Alex Dunbar: Glasgow learned from past 1872 Cup defeats

Alex Dunbar tackles Edinburgh's Hamish Watson during the 1872 Cup clash at BT Murrayfield on Boxing Day. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Alex Dunbar tackles Edinburgh's Hamish Watson during the 1872 Cup clash at BT Murrayfield on Boxing Day. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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Try-scorer Alex Dunbar believes Glasgow learned from previous painful memories against Edinburgh and profited from a “smarter” gameplan on Boxing Day.

The Warriors ended a run of three successive defeats against their inter-city rivals with a convincing 25-12 triumph in Monday’s 1872 Cup clash at BT Murrayfield, with the Scotland centre grabbing the third try which sealed the deal midway through the second half.

“When we got the ball we played smarter than we did the last couple of years,” said Dunbar. “Sometimes we get drawn into playing a game we do not want to play. I think we are a bit smarter this year and did not allow ourselves to get dragged into that.

“As defence leaders on the pitch we talked about not giving away penalties. In the first half the boys were not quite accurate enough at the breakdown and we were giving away penalties that kept us in our half and put us under a wee bit of pressure.

“We just did not have a lot of ball and did not get into shape at times as we would want to. That hurt us a bit in the first half but when we did get into our shape we did create a little but need to work on getting into our shape more often.

“We were clinical when we got the chances.”

Dunbar had helped Glasgow get off to a dream start when his kick caught Edinburgh cold and full-back Blair Kinghorn’s misjudgment allowed Junior Bulumakau in for the opening try with less than 60 seconds played.

“It is something we worked on through the week if there was space in the back field. I looked up and saw it,” explained the centre.

“They defend with a lot of numbers in the front line so there will always be space at the back so it was always going to be hard for just one guy to cover it so we found space.”

With the return match not until May, the victory was important in terms of the Guinness Pro12 and, while Glasgow remain sixth, Monday’s win has given them a leg up and provided a platform to get right back into the top-four hunt in the new year.

“It was a very important to get that win,” said Dunbar. “Before Europe we had a couple of tough results so we know we needed to pick up a win to try and get back into the top four.”

Dunbar was delighted to get on the scoresheet with that third try but was keen to give the credit to his team, who displayed masterful ball retention and slick hands to give their centre the easiest job to finish off in the corner.

“We kept the ball through a lot of phases and there was a lot of big hits going in,” recalled Dunbar. “We did well, especially the forwards to keep the ball and luckily I created the overlap and went in at the corner.”

The quality of the score certainly delighted Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend, who said: “Our control in defence was really good, we were holding our shape well.

“How many phases were there for Alex Dunbar’s try? I think someone said 30. So that shows control and patience to get that breakthrough. In the end it took a bit of skill, a couple of offloads and passes which was great to see.”

After that early try, Edinburgh enjoyed their best period in the middle part of the first half, when Glasgow were temporarily reduced to 14 men, but the home side could never quite break the shackles and their control slipped away.

Townsend added: “I felt given where we were in the first half when we were getting penalised a lot and Edinburgh had a lot of possession, to win by 13 points was excellent.

“I felt the turning point for us was the yellow card against [prop] Alex Allan. We really dug deep then. We played our best rugby of the game.

“Up front we carried well, got the drive going, went through the phases and caused them problems. We were getting penalties and took that confidence into the second half.”

The one slight frustration for the coach was seeing another bonus point left unclaimed. As against Racing 92 in the recent European clash, Glasgow had bagged the third try with plenty of time to spare but couldn’t put the cherry on the cake.

“That’s something we need to work on,” conceded Townsend. “ There were a lot of good things but the last 20 minutes when it looked like we were on the front foot we should have converted opportunities. Inaccuracy on a couple of occasions cost us. Once you’ve scored that third try, like against Racing, you want to get back down there and score again. We have to set ourselves higher standards.”