Glasgow Warriors 23-22 Edinburgh: Home side level things up in 1872 Cup thriller
If the first match between these sides was a dull affair, this one had excitement in spades. Both teams deserve credit for showing adventure in wet and windy conditions and most of the plaudits should go to Ross Thompson, the home stand-off who was making his first start for the Warriors.
The 21-year-old played with composure throughout and kicked three penalties and two conversions to keep Glasgow’s noses in front.
Edinburgh outscored the Warriors by three tries to two but it wasn’t enough. Matt Fagerson and George Turner crossed for the home team, and Jamie Farndale, Chris Dean and Eroni Sau did likewise for Edinburgh.
Sau’s late, late try made it a one-point game with 90 seconds remaining but Jaco van der Walt could not convert from out on the left touchline and Glasgow were able to hang on for victory.
It had taken over an hour for the first points to be scored when these sides met at Murrayfield on January 2. Thankfully, the second installment of the 1872 Cup got off to an altogether livelier start.
Thompson, making his first start for Glasgow, looked anything but daunted by the occasion. The young stand-off put through a nice little grubber early on which led to the home side being awarded a penalty. Thompson stepped up and confidently struck the ball between the posts from around 30 metres.
It was the perfect start for the Scotland under-20 international and there was more to come.
Glasgow’s pack had been dominated in the scrum during the first game, prompting much soul-searching in the Warriors camp. Having had two weeks to stew over things, the home forwards were determined to make amends and did so impressively.
A couple of early scrum penalties went their way and the reaction from the home forwards showed what it meant to them. The second one presented Glasgow with another penalty and young Thompson duly delivered to put the home side 6-0 ahead.
Edinburgh hit back quickly and when Glasgow prop Aki Seiuli was penalised for offside, Jaco van der Walt halved the arrears with a simple kick.
The scrums were being keenly contested - a little too keenly for referee Mike Adamson who had cause to speak to Magnus Bradbury and Ryan Wilson.
Edinburgh were finding their feet but when awarded a kickable penalty they opted to go for the corner rather than take the points and ended up with nothing to show for it.
Glasgow were holding up well but were reduced to 14 men eight minutes before half-time when hooker George Turner was sent to the sin-bin for an off-the-ball shoulder charge on the on-rushing Grant Gilchrist which left the Edinburgh man winded.
Debutant winger Rufus McLean was sacrificed to allow the Warriors to bring on their replacement hooker Johnny Matthews but the home side were now outnumbered in the backs and Edinburgh made them pay with the game’s opening try.
The visitors threw the ball out wide right to Farndale but he was stopped in his tracks by Huw Jones. Edinburgh recycled and tried their luck on the left but were stymied once again. They were not to be denied, and put the ball through the hands of their backs once more, with van der Walt, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Dean all involved before Farndale found the gap in the corner, with Jones caught trying to defend against two men.
Van der Walt converted smartly from out wide on the right to put Edinburgh 10-6 ahead with half-time looming.
Glasgow bounced back quickly and were rewarded for their attacking intent with a penalty award in injury time as Edinburgh were caught offside. Thompson kicked the points from in front of the posts to reduce Edinburgh’s lead to 10-9 at half-time.
Thompson’s third penalty meant Glasgow had suffered only a four-point deficit while Turner was off the pitch and when the hooker returned early in the second half he quickly made his presence felt as a part of a refreshed Glasgow pack.
Turner was carrying hard as the Warriors forwards turned the screw five metres from the Edinburgh line. Seiuli had a surge for the line but was held up but Edinburgh were only delaying the inevitable and Matt Fagerson forced his way over for the try, despite the best efforts of Simon Berghan.
Thompson’s conversion put the home side 16-10 ahead and they increased their lead just seven minutes later.
By that stage Edinburgh had been reduced to 14 men, with van der Walt shown the yellow card for not rolling away after a superb run by Jones in which he broke three tackles.
Glasgow tails were up and when Gray won good lineout ball to set up the maul, Turner spotted the gap and dived over the line for the try. The unflappable Thompson added the extras to make it 23-10.
Glasgow’s celebrations were quickly doused as the visitors hit back almost immediately. With WP Nel on as a sub for his 150th appearance in Edinburgh colours, the capital side produced a try worthy of the landmark. It stemmed from a lineout, and when hooker David Cherry went on a rampaging run he had excellent support in the form of Hamish Watson. The flanker made some yards then passed to Dean who ran in the score. In the absence of van der Walt, Mark Bennett took over kicking duties and added the extras to make it 23-17 to the home side and set up a nailbiting finale.
Edinburgh continued to press and replacement prop Pierre Schoeman thought he had scored but the try was ruled out for a double movement.
Leone Nakarawa made his long-awaited return from the bench but Glasgow were under the cosh and Huw Jones was sent to the sin-bin for slowing the ball up at the breakdown as Edinburgh pressure mounted.
Dean thought he’d scored in the corner but he had a foot in touch thanks to the desperate defensive efforts of Lee Jones who took a head knock for his troubles.
With Glasgow short-handed, the try eventually came from winger Sau who wriggled through to make it a one-point game with around 90 seconds on the clock. It left van der Walt with a conversion to win the game for Edinburgh. The stand-off gave it a mighty boot but it sailed wide to leave Glasgow in the ascendancy.
The game restarted with seconds left and the home side continued to drive forward rather than kick the ball dead with 80 minutes on the clock. They even won a penalty which Thompson kicked wide, the only flaw in an otherwise perfect starting debut for the young fly-half.
Scorers. Glasgow Warriors: Tries: M Fagerson, Turner. Cons: Thompson 2. Pens: Thompson 3
Edinburgh: Tries: Farndale, Dean, Sau. Cons: van der Walt, Bennett. Pens: van der Walt
Glasgow Warriors: Huw Jones; Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Robbie Fergusson, Rufus McLean; Ross Thompson, Ali Price; Aki Seiuli, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson (C), Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Tom Lambert, Enrique Pieretto, Leone Nakarawa, Rob Harley, Jamie Dobie, Brandon Thomson, Ollie Smith.
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Jamie Farndale, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Eroni Sau; Jaco van der Walt, Nic Groom (Co-capt); Rory Sutherland, David Cherry, Simon Berghan, Jamie Hodgson, Grant Gilchrist (Co-capt); Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Bill Mata.
Replacements: Mike Willemse, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Nick Haining, Luke Crosbie, Henry Pyrgos, Nathan Chamberlain, James Johnstone.
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU).
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