Glasgow Warriors won the first leg of the 1872 Cup after claiming a 25-12 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Boxing Day.
Glasgow put a halt to their three-game losing streak in the PRO12 with a victory over Scottish rivals Edinburgh. The Warriors started strongly with a try inside the first minute but let the home side back in as the first half progressed.
Duncan Weir pushed Edinburgh ahead with 23 minutes on the clock but that was as good as it got for Edinburgh as they let the Warriors take a nine point lead into half-time. Glasgow then took control of an often scrappy second half and will be happy with their day’s work, even if they did leave without a try scoring bonus point.
A mistake at the kick-off led to an attacking lineout for Edinburgh just outside the Glasgow 22. But the ball was stolen by Brian Alainu’uese who stormed up field and behind the Edinburgh line. It was recycled quickly and Alec Dunbar kicked into the unmarked meadow that sat behind the home side’s defense. Blair Kinghorn, fresh off a two-year contract extension, couldn’t collect and Junior Bulumaku, who has been out of the picture at Glasgow of late, flopped over for one of the easier finishes. Finn Russell couldn’t convert from the far right touchline.
Edinburgh were able to shake off the turkey fueled malaise and march into the Glasgow 22, assisted by a Hamish Watson break. A stretched defence were forced into a penalty which was happily slotted over by Weir to bring the score to 5-3 and ease Kinghorn’s blues.
The large Murrayfield crowd were treated to something resembling a post-Christmas dinner slumber as the two teams trudged between the two 22’s without ever really looking threatening. They were awoken though by an Edinburgh scrum on halfway and a wonderfully flat Duncan Weir pass which allowed Chris Dean to carve between Finn Russell and Josh Strauss but once again Edinburgh lacked composure when they reached the opposition 22. A familiar issue as the game went on.
On the 22-minute mark, yet more Edinburgh pressure led to a sin-binning for slow moving prop Alex Allan, caught at the bottom of a ruck, and Duncan Weir slipped the kick over to give the capital city club the lead.
With Allan perched on the sideline, the Edinburgh pack were walking through their Scottish counterparts. But yet another mistake allowed Glasgow to clear their lines and send the home side cantering back into their own half for some rare defensive duties.
It was another rarity a successful lineout for Glasgow – there were six missed lineouts across the game – something Vern Cotter will be concerned about with Ross Ford and Fraser Brown both Scotland capped hookers, which led to a crushing maul driven from the 22 to the try line by the bearded Josh Strauss. The South African emerged from the bodies, holding the ball, and Russell was successful with his conversion to give the Warriors a 12-6 lead.
It was a game that was plodding towards half time, but a scything break by Mark Bennett took Glasgow into the 22 and after phases where Glasgow failed to threaten, Edinburgh were struck by a sense of charity and conceded a penalty which Russell smacked over to take the lead to 15-6 heading into the break.
The Edinburgh pack were on a high after their domination of the Allan-less Glasgow pack but after the home side were forced back, a wayward Weir kick found Stuart Hogg, anonymous until now, who skipped through the home defence and into the Edinburgh 22. Yet more Edinburgh indiscretion allowed Russell to kick at goal but he missed the simple three-pointer. The foothold that Edinburgh had previously had was becoming much more slippy. But, with the scrum descending into a random exercise in penalty giving, Edinburgh found their salvation with a third Weir penalty to close in on the Warriors.
It was short-lived though as Edinburgh once again infringed on the ground, it was a relatively straightforward kick, made more complicated by the fact that as Russell stepped up it fell off the tee and he had to drop kick it through.
Edinburgh were still clinging on though and some Harlem Globetrotters handling put Damien Hoyland clear and into the Glasgow 22. This time it was Glasgow’s turn to draw the referee’s ire as they crept offside and Duncan Weir was once again on hand to stick the conversion through to cut the Edinburgh lead to just six points.
The home team were determined to be good hosts and a charge down by Jonny Gray gave Glasgow a five-metre scrum with a quarter of the game to go. The Edinburgh pack stood firm and when the ball was mis-controlled at the back of the scrum, Hidalgo-Clyne put replacement Viliame Mata clear to cross back into Glasgow’s territory. Another mistake gave the ball back and restarted the Glasgow attack.
The Glasgow attack was relentless, if not prolific, but after numerous phases Alainu’uese freed his hands and fed Sean Lamont who found Alec Dunbar alone on the wing to cruise over in the corner. Russell struck it over to push the Warriors thirteen points ahead with ten minutes left.
A moment of insanity by Finn Russell, chipping ahead when inside his own five-metre line, gave Edinburgh possession and a penalty. But, after a plethora of scrums and reset scrums the Warriors were able to clear their lines and leave Edinburgh with 40 metre to make in three minutes and a best case scenario of a losing bonus point.
Another penalty was conceded by Edinburgh and Glasgow were inside the Edinburgh part of the field and chasing a bonus point of their own. But as was the main feature of the game, another error gave Edinburgh the ball and soon a penalty. They found touch at halfway and eventually a successful lineout.
Replacement scrum-half, Sean Kennedy cut around the back of the Glasgow pack and then hit Damien Hoyland, electric in a losing cause, he cut across in search of support but was hauled down. Kennedy was there and came back to the open side and found Viliame Mata. The Fijian barrelled towards the line with the Glasgow defence in disarray but he was halted at the line and referee Davies blew up with 80 minutes on the clock to leave Edinburgh pointless.
Pens: Weir 4
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Bulumakau, Strauss, Dunbar
Cons: Russell 2
Drop Goal: Russell
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Glenn Bryce
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Junior Bulumakau, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos (cc), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (cc), 4 Brian Alainu’uese, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown,1 Alex Allan (36)
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Adam Ashe, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Ali Price, 22 Nick Grigg, 23 Sean Lamont
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)