1872 Cup: Breakdown key to Edinburgh’s win over Glasgow

Glasgow stand-off Adam Hastings was punished for mistakes. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
Glasgow stand-off Adam Hastings was punished for mistakes. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
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These things are usually tense, tight, nervy affairs that go right down to the wire but frankly this first 1872 Cup match was unexpectedly straightforward for Edinburgh.

It wasn’t that the home side didn’t have to work hard for their 23-7 win. It was just that they had it won on the hour mark, after Duhan van der Merwe’s second try, and they cruised through the final quarter of the match on auto pilot, emptying the bench while they were at it.

“We knew we would have to be really physical,” said smiling Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill, “set piece would have to be really good and we had to control them best as we could when they had the ball. It’s a big win for us, they came with their best side, and we played very well and we deserved to win.

“Defensively I thought our line was good. Calum MacRae is a very good ‘D’ coach and he’s worked hard since he’s been with us and I thought that came out tonight.”

It did. Edinburgh’s defence bossed the game, keeping Glasgow’s free scoring, all singing, all dancing back division to just one try, which not many teams can manage.

The key was at the breakdown which many teams these days ignore altogether and instead ensure the line is fully manned. Edinburgh did the opposite, throwing players into the contact zone and slowing down Glasgow’s ball to a snail’s pace. Without the quick ball those dangerous Glasgow backs were toothless.

“Our boys were very motivated,” Cockerill said, stating the obvious, “as they always are against Glasgow but we didn’t give them opportunities to settle and play on the front foot. Slow the ball down, make every breakdown a contest. You give them front foot ball and they are one of the best in Europe at exposing you! We knew if we could stop them playing on the front foot they would struggle a little bit.”

Glasgow coach Dave Rennie wasn’t happy about the set scrum penalties that his side conceded, arguing that the Edinburgh scrums weren’t legal.

“You’ve got to push straight,” Rennie argued. “If they are just going to walk around and the tighthead is going to shear off... If you look at it they are just walking around and they were getting rewarded for it. Generally referees have been a lot tougher, if you don’t push straight you don’t get rewarded for it. That wasn’t the case tonight.”

Rennie insisted that last night’s performance was not indicative of what they can do and he hoped to prove as much next weekend. No one in the visitors’ dressing room will be hurting more than Adam Hastings who threw two interception passes that led directly to 14 Edinburgh points.

“He’s a young man who is desperate to perform well,” said Rennie. “He made a couple of errors tonight and he will learn from that. We all have to look at how we prepared and how we performed.”