Stuart McInally described the stunning 18-17 win over Glasgow as the best feeling he has had at club level but insists there is more to come from his side, though also from their smarting opponents come this Saturday afternoon’s return at Scotstoun.
The Edinburgh hooker was skipper on a famous evening as the home side shook off the early double blow of a try conceded and a red card to tighthead prop Simon Berghan in the opening minutes to scrap their way to victory and take a 1-0 lead in the 1872 Cup series.
The dramatic win also ended Glasgow’s perfect ten-game start to the Guinness Pro14 season and McInally, who has carried on his excellent Scotland form from the autumn Tests into club colours, is brimming with pride at the achievement.
“Best derby win definitely, I’d say the best club game I’ve been involved in,” he said. “Just the whole occasion, the atmosphere, the crowd, and then just the task on our hands after the red card.
“It was just really good messaging from everyone throughout the game, the confidence we had at half-time. We spoke a lot about that before the game, let’s not worry too much about the result, let’s just put Edinburgh Rugby’s best game out there, which we managed to do.
“We adapted well, and effectively our game-plan didn’t change when we went down a man. We just tried to look after the ball, and we probably looked after the ball a wee bit better than they did in the second half.”
The win took Richard Cockerill’s men to a record of nine wins from the last ten in all competitions but McInally insists there is more to come.
“I think we’re still some way off from playing at our best,” he said. “It was tough with 14 men and you’re used to situations when you’re carrying with pods of three and after a couple of phases there’s just one guy left.
“I don’t really feel we put our best game out there in terms of [what we could have with] 15 men, but given the circumstances it’ll go down as one of the great Edinburgh wins against Glasgow.”
There have been a few of those of late, with Edinburgh now five out of six against inter-city Scottish rivals who have otherwise left them in their distant shadow for some years now.
“I don’t know whether we’ve got their number. Not my words,” said a beaming McInally.
“We have a strong game-plan going into these games, we know exactly how Glasgow want to try and play and they’re very good at it and very dangerous.
“But it can be a downfall if they try and play too much and I felt they had some good attacks at times, the last pass didn’t stick.
“On another day against another team, the pass sticks and they win with a bonus point, but [on Saturday] we applied enough pressure that we came down on the right side of it.”
McInally said Edinburgh would be fully prepared for a backlash this weekend as Dave Rennie’s men seek to avoid another defeat which would mean the 1872 Cup returning to Edinburgh hands for the third time in four years.
“Yeah, they’ll be smarting after that, they’ll want to put it right and be disappointed with the result, given they were a man up for the whole game,” said 12-times capped 27-year-old.
“But they were going to lose that unbeaten record at some point, so we’re just really pleased with the win. It helps us believe in ourselves a lot more. It’s something that we’ve struggled with in past years, that we can compete at the top. Glasgow are one of the top teams in the comp if not the form team, so it was nice to beat them.
“It gives us confidence that we’re moving in the right direction, we’ve had some good wins recently, we’re aware they were against teams in the Challenge Cup while Glasgow were playing in the Champions Cup, they were playing statistically better opposition. But it’s nice to come up against a team that were unbeaten in the league and to really put a marker down that we’re here to compete.”
A record crowd of 23,883 was in attendance at BT Murrayfield on Saturday and McInally hopes that the drama of the occasion will tempt a good number of the one-off attendees to get along to Myreside come the new year.
“I hope so,” he said. “You feel really special running out to see the top and bottom tier full up and people in the North and South.
“When Nathan Fowles scored that try to get us to within four points you could feel the buzz and that when we really started to believe I think, receiving that kick-off at 14-17 and thinking, okay we’re a man down but we could win this.”