Glasgow Warriors took the early advantage in this year’s 1872 Cup after beating Scottish rivals Edinburgh in a match which exploded into end-to-end life late on after what had been a tetchy, edgy affair.
A total of five from either side were yellow-carded as Glasgow’s Ruaridh Jackson and George Turner were sent to bin by referee Ben Blain, alongside the Edinburgh trio of Bill Mata, Stuart McInally and Nic Groom.
What had been a low scoring and hard-fought battle suddenly became a ding-dong festive cracker as Ali Price and Blair Kinghorn exchange tries before Turner finished off a maul to win it for Dave Rennie’s side right at the end.
It means Glasow can win back the three-match 1872 Cup from Richard Cockerill’s men if they back up at BT Murrayfield next Saturday afternoon.
It also scored the Warriors some vital Guinness Pro14 points after losing four of their matches in the competition so far.
In fresh but much milder conditions than beset last Saturday evening’ European defeat to La Rochelle, the opening exchanges were as nip and tuck as you would expect from a derby clash which means so much to the players.
Club and city pride kicks in but also, for many of those involved, in front of watching Scotland coach Gregor Townsend there is a chance to get one over on rivals and stake claims for Six Nations which is fast approaching.
Lineouts dominated the opening quarter, with a flurry of penalties called for technical offences by rookie referee Blain, who hails from Carlisle but is being nurtured in the Scottish system.
Adam Hastings drew first blood for the home side in the sixth minute before the even nature of the contest was fairly levelled up with three points from the boot of visiting stand-off Simon Hickey.
The most significant moment so far came close to the half-hour mark when livewire Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham showed fantastic skill and electric pace when he burned opposite wing Kyle Steyn down the right, chipped over Jackson but was impeded by the Warriors full-back.
Blain went to the TMO and there was no surprise when the yellow card was shown. Hickey was unlucky to see the resulting penalty come back off the left-hand post but Glasgow infringed again and the former New Zealand Under-20 internationalist made no mistake in the 29th minute to open up a narrow lead which lasted for only six minutes before Hastings drew the match level again with a clean strike.
Glasgow unleashed the best attacking phases of the game in the closing minutes of the match, forcing a yellow card for Edinburgh No 8 Mata after going off his feet at the breakdown but the points were not taken and it fizzled out at 6-6 heading in to the interval.
The home locks combined brilliantly to carve out the first opportunity of the second half as Jonny Gray’s excellent pass put Scott Cummings in behind but the Edinburgh defence, which had been so impressive before the break, continued to hold up well and good work from Hamish Watson and Ben Toolis stemmed the flow.
There was a potentially crucial moment in the 50th minute when Edinburgh skipper McInally was the next man to visit the sinbin when Blain determined that he had made high contact in a follow up tackle on his opposing hooker Fraser Brown.
It could be viewed as a slightly harsh call but contact was made and the visitors were forced to endure another ten minutes a man light as the Warriors No 2 departed for an HIA.
Hickey put Edinburgh back ahead with a penalty before three minutes later Brown’s replacement hooker Turner became the latest to be pinged to the bin for a no-arms chop tackle and that meant a spell of uncontested scrums.
Glasgow were gradually taking a grip on the match. Tommy Seymour, back in his more familiar wing position, came close but couldn’t quite regather his kick ahead.
The first try came in the 64th minute with a sparkling move created by a brilliant chip by Hastings, which was claimed by centre Huw Jones who then calmly put the onrushing sub scrum-half Price in under the posts, the stand-off converting.
Edinburgh’s fine response came with ten minutes to go when Graham and Watson combined well to feed Kinghorn, whose scintillating step inside saw him crash over. Sub stand-off van der Walt slotted the extras to leave Edinburgh defending a 16-13 lead as a tight encounter came to life.
Glasgow pressed again on the Edinburgh line after Jones’s kickthrough into the corner and Groom became the fifth man to concede a yellow card. The Warriors got the maul motoring and Turner finished off.
Hastings converted from wide to open up a four-point lead and sustained a late, desperate surge to seal the win.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Price, Turner; Cons: Hastings 2; Pens: Hastings 2. Edinburgh: Try: Kinghorn; Con: Van der Walt; Pens: Hickey 3.
Glasgow: R Jackson; T Seymour, H Jones, S Johnson, K Steyn; A Hastings, G Horne, A Seiuli, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Harley, C Gibbins, R Wilson. Subs: G Turner, O Kebble, A Nicol, A Ashe, T Gordon, A Price, N Grigg, N Matawalu.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Graham, M Bennett, G Taylor, D Van der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, S McInally, P Ceccarelli, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, H Watson, V Mata. Subs: M Willemse, J Bhatti, S Berghan, L Carmichael, J Ritchie, N Groom, J Van der Walt, J Johnstone.
Referee: B Blain (SRU)