Edinburgh retained the 1872 Cup for the fourth time in the last five seasons and pocketed some precious league points while they were at it in a satisfying afternoon’s work for the capital club.
Both sides scored one try apiece but Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van der Walt added three penalties compared to the three points from Adam Hastings’ boot. The final scoreline flattered the hosts who possibly performed worse than they did in the corresponding fixture last weekend at Murrayfield.
Everyone expected Glasgow to fight back after last weekend’s reversal but any bounce was of the dead cat variety. The home side never looked like winning this one from the moment Edinburgh took the lead four minutes into the match. If Warriors coach Dave Rennie isn’t concerned about the damage to team morale he should be, because there were few crumbs of comfort on offer for the Kiwi yesterday.
Edinburgh ended Glasgow’s long winning run last season and they seem to have got into the Warriors’ psyche, with other opposition sure to copy Richard Cockerill’s up-and-at-’em example.
Despite home advantage and the first half wind at their backs, Glasgow looked timid and uncertain. They were unable to execute basic skills in open play or secure their ball at the set piece.
For long stretches of this game Glasgow were reduced to playing Edinburgh at their own game, one-phase, walking rugby by any other name, and once that happened the Warriors were never going to win.
It was an awful advert for rugby, slow and stately, performed at the same pace as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It took three weeks to play the game, or so it seemed, with the ball in play time measured in seconds, all of which suited Edinburgh just fine.
If the visitors could play old school and walk from one set piece to the next you feel they would happily do without all that headless chicken stuff that goes on in between. That said, Edinburgh probably played most of the rugby that was on offer, just not very well, but they didn’t need to be any better.
It speaks volumes about Glasgow’s problems that Edinburgh needed nothing more than basic competence to beat them in their own back yard.
Neither side appeared able to hold on to the ball for long enough to build any serious pressure. Glasgow can blame the aggressive Edinburgh defence that, for the second weekend in succession, hounded them relentlessly whenever they had possession, putting stress on decision making and accuracy.
Edinburgh can blame… well, mostly themselves, although Peter Horne and Stuart Hogg both made try-saving tackles on Duhan van der Merwe in the first half. The Scotland full-back didn’t come out for the second half after tweaking his groin/hip in the first 40; more bad news for Glasgow on a day with plenty to choose from.
The scrums were a mess throughout but Edinburgh had the whip hand again and could usually rely upon a penalty when they put their shoulder to the wheel. Glasgow loosehead Oli Kebble eventually tried referee George Clancy’s patience once too often and took a break, leaving the home side short-handed for ten second half minutes, and it had an immediate effect.
Edinburgh were on the attack and all four wheels came off one Glasgow scrum. Viliame Mata picked and almost muscled his way to the line. Two phases later Stuart McInally went one better with the first try of the match coming with the contest already 49 minutes old.
If the scrums were bad, Glasgow’s lineout was a lot worse, with hooker Grant Stewart unceremoniously yanked at half-time after three, maybe four stray throws, several of which were deep inside the Edinburgh red zone.
If it wasn’t their skills that let them down, Glasgow were undone by indiscipline. One promising attack was ruined when Jonny Gray gave one visiting player a sarcastic slap on the head and was promptly pinged, hallelujah, by the referee for his trouble. Clancy had a good game, no, really.
If the match had a turning point it was on 54 minutes when Edinburgh were already 13-3 to the good. Glasgow enjoyed their best attacking opportunity with a long series of forward charges at the Glasgow line only for Hamish Watson to come up with the crucial turnover.
Edinburgh marched down the field, with the help of the second half wind at their backs, and van der Walt’s third penalty of the afternoon gave the visitors a 16-3 lead which they held onto well into the final quarter.
With the clock against them, Glasgow went on the offensive as George Horne offered some much needed urgency at nine. The scrum-half eventually scored Glasgow’s first try from close range but Hastings fluffed the extras and the margin remained more than one converted try… which is how it ended after DTH van der Merwe’s final pass of the match bobbled harmlessly into touch.