The opening weekend proved to be a little ordinary for fans of Scotland’s twin pro-teams. Edinburgh lost to two tries from Ospreys’ winger George North while Glasgow were second best for much of their match against Connacht and had to survive an 82nd minute penalty attempt that hit the post and bounced wide.
The two Scottish teams are set up very differently. Despite bossing both possession and territory stats, Edinburgh took 75 minutes to score their first and only five pointer in Swansea. Stand-off Simon Hickey looks a keeper but they need to add creativity in the midfield.
In contrast, Glasgow opened their try-scoring account 63 seconds into their match against Connacht, finishing the game with a total of four and the bonus.
Blair Kinghorn, pictured, scored Edinburgh’s one touchdown. He enjoyed a great season last time out and received all the plaudits. Now the big full-back is in the spotlight and his porous defence was the main reason that George North dominated the headlines.
Kinghorn missed a tackle on the Welsh winger in the first half although his blushes were saved by Duhan van der Merwe tackling back on that occasion. Not so in the second half.
Kinghorn’s first mistake was kicking the ball tamely into touch when he could have secured possession and worked it upfield. From that position the Ospreys moved the ball wide to North who stepped inside Kinghorn far too easily to score. The full-back wasn’t the only one who missed a tackle. The final statistics suggest that the Ospreys missed 16 and made 195 tackles while Edinburgh made 97 and missed an embarrassing 20.
And defence wasn’t the only issue. At least five Edinburgh players lost the ball in contact, and substitute hooker Ross Ford sclaffed his first two throws. Simon Berghan looked rusty, with Edinburgh’s scrum only dropping anchor when Murray McCallum appeared late in the day.
If both defences were on top in Swansea, there were tries galore in Galway, six in total. In the first half the game was so open it looked like yet another pre-season friendly although both teams tightened up as the game progressed.
We did see signs of Glasgow’s plan B. Route one rugby resulted in a try for Ryan Wilson in the first half and, unleashing their inner Leinster, saw Glasgow complete 28 phases after the break.
What both Scotland’s pro-teams did have in common, however, was a brainless lack of discipline. Edinburgh conceded the first five penalties in Swansea but Glasgow were much, much worse, conceding 16 in total, exactly twice as many as Edinburgh.
In the first half Oli Kebble conceded a lineout penalty to gift Connacht three points and, straight from the kick off, DTH van der Merwe conceded another to give Connacht an easy exit.
Glasgow’s chronic lack of discipline peaked on 57 minutes when a high tackle by Adam Hastings reduced the Warriors to 14 men, although they won the card with a short-handed try.
Good discipline is one of those intangibles that needs no skill and coaches are driven to distraction when players concede dumb penalties, as almost all of them are.
Glasgow out-scored Connacht in tries, but four successful penalties almost won the game for the home side, with two more going wide including that late, late effort that hit the woodwork.
One week ago George Horne was carded for back-chat.
When Connacht’s Cian Kelleher scored yesterday, the little scrum-half was so busy shouting at the referee that he didn’t attempt to stop the winger from running under the posts.
It makes the kicker’s task much easier… just ask big brother Peter, who missed a gimme.