This inter-city derby was marred by a 35-minute unscheduled break in the middle of the match, caused by a fire alarm in the North Stand, necessitating the presence of two fire engines and the complete evacuation of the stadium for what proved to be a false alarm.
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As a result, and with the agreement of both coaches, the first half was cut to 38 minutes. It’s hard to imagine, though, that many of those in attendance will rue the loss of those two minutes because the match was spoiled far more by the general level of incompetence on view.
This was a dreadful advert for Scottish rugby with both sides capable of so much more, as they will surely prove next weekend. If not, Murrayfield might want to cancel that entirely artificial edifice, the third leg of the 1872 Cup, right now if this is any sort of barometer for the standard of play on offer. Admittedly the conditions weren’t great but they were a lot better than they threatened to be 20 minutes before kick off.
The fire alarm was probably the most exciting aspect of this poor match and if the search is on for culprits then any rugby lover has to be a suspect because the first half especially was hard going. The game was littered with errors by both sides. We seem to say the same every week and the same excuses are wearing a little thin.
Glasgow took the honours and kept their cup hopes alive, displaying a lot more spit and sawdust than last weekend, but that apart there was very little enough to crow about. It was thanks to the boot of Finn Russell which, with everything else working with the precision of a Turkmenistan watch, remained on song. The fly-half kicked four penalties on five, 42, 57 and 73 minutes to give his side a buffer before Lee Jones added the icing in the form of an 80th-minute try with the clock in the red numbers.
Only after the break, with the wind at their backs, did Glasgow exert some authority over proceedings, setting up camp inside Edinburgh’s half of the field and pretty much staying there without ever looking totally in command of things. They deserved their win but it was a lot harder work, for fans and players alike, than the scoreboard suggests.
Edinburgh bossed possession in the first half and would build up a head of steam only for someone to cough up a penalty. Glasgow would string a few phases together and someone would pass the ball straight into touch, Nick Grigg and Ruaridh Jackson both managed the feat in the first half alone.
Blair Kinghorn looked sharp and split Glasgow apart early in the second half only to drop the ball. Ali Price was charged down, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne kicked the ball straight out and both fly-halfs mis-judged every cross-field kick they made, sending every one straight down the full-back’s throat. One of Russell’s kicks hammered into his own forward pack not ten metres away.
At one point McInally passed the ball straight to his opposite number Fraser Brown who, with Glasgow’s backs lined up outside him, ran straight into the Edinburgh pack and had to leave the field with a head injury. It was that sort of game.
Glasgow dominated the set scrum but probably not as much as they should have and what extra possession they got from Peter they quickly donated back to Paul by losing a couple of throws at the sidelines.
There were a few moments of genuine quality. McInally enjoyed a great first-half run which ended when Jackson knocked the ball from his grasp. It fell for Damien Hoyland who thought he had scored but the referee adjudged a knock on.
Just before the break Alex Dunbar picked a superb line to break the Edinburgh line only for winger Duhan van der Merwe to clatter him into next year. The big South African was a handful all afternoon and had his pass, from a wayward Russell kick, found fellow Saffa Jaco van der Walt the Edinburgh fly-half might have grabbed the first try of the match just before the 38 minute break.
As it was the Scotstoun fans, and the Sky Sports audience, had to wait until the 80th minute before celebrating the first five pointer. Edinburgh went to the short side from a five metre scrum and Jones latched onto George Horne’s bullet to sneak into the corner for the first and last try of the evening.
It caused a huge rammy between the two forward packs in which Fraser McKenzie and Chris Fusaro were carded for their trouble; the second most interesting aspect of this match.