Planet Rugby

Glasgow grind out derby triumph

26th December 2013 16:44

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Stuart Hogg Leinster v Glasgow 2013 PRO12 SF

Try-scorer: Stuart Hogg

Glasgow Warriors battled back from behind to claim a 20-16 derby victory over Edinburgh in the Pro12 at Murrayfield on Thursday.

Barely a few months ago, this was a match Glasgow could justifiably have expected to win at a canter.

In recent weeks, though, the Warriors have struggled with their cohesion, precision and ruthlessness despite boasting some of the Pro12's most dangerous backs.

But the visitors overcame their European woes courtesy of a fine smash and grab try from British and Irish Lion Stuart Hogg, playing at outside centre this week, as the momentum swung dramatically in favour of the visitors in the second half.

Edinburgh, by contrast, are beginning to show signs of the steel and pragmatism head coach Alan Solomons promised to instill on arriving from the Southern Kings.

Their two noteworthy victories in the lead-up to this one were built upon the foundations of a bruising forward effort, and intelligent play from fly-half Greig Tonks.

But despite dominating the first half, the hosts failed to convert their pressure in the second 40 to points, with Glasgow's latent potency coming to the fore in one devastating flash.

It was the Warriors who struck first through an early Duncan Weir penalty as Roddy Grant - making his 100th appearance for the hosts - failed to roll away after making a tackle.

WP Nel went one-up on Ryan Grant at the set-piece, as the latter was penalised for driving in at the game's first scrum. Laidlaw converted from close range to level the scores.

Nel conceded the sort of penalty that drives coaches mad just four minutes later, however, unable to resist reaching into the middle of a ruck and scoping the ball back in plain view of referee Neil Paterson. Weir added his second three-pointer of the afternoon with little trouble.

But Edinburgh were soon to make the breakthrough, as they stole a Warriors lineout off the back of a fine kick to the corner from Tonks.

Much is made of the newly-appointed fly-half's boot, but Tonks' attacking intelligence came to the fore when, after some telling carries from Ollie Atkins and Dave Denton, he sent full-back Jack Cuthbert galloping for the corner.

Cuthbert was caught five metres from the line, but offloaded inside to the tracking Dougie Fife who dotted down for the game's opening try; Laidlaw adding the extras from right-of-centre.

Weir added his third penalty shortly afterwards, but the visitors were soon to be down a man as openside Tyrone Holmes flew through on Laidlaw at the base of the ruck; the scrum-half contentedly slotting his second penalty.

Hogg certainly stoked the fire with his pre-match remarks riling his derby opponents, and that niggle was evident as Tom Brown needlessly pushed the centre after bundling him into touch. That sparked the game's first flashpoint, with Hogg grappling the winger over the advertising boards. Both men were sent to the sin-bin.

The hosts butchered a scoring opportunity just minutes later as Atkins spilled with the line at his mercy, but Paterson was playing advantage for an earlier infringement, allowing Laidlaw to knock over a simple three-pointer. It was, however, one of several chances the capital outfit were to regret.

The Warriors, by contrast, rarely threatened to breach the Edinburgh rearguard in the opening forty, and fittingly ended the half 16-9 down as a Weir pass floated too far in front of DTH van der Merwe.

Solomons' men began the second-half as they ended the first - powerful and full of purpose. Space opened up for Fife to break down the right-hand-side, and Denton was hauled into touch metres from the Glasgow line after a good offload from Grant.

Ruaridh Jackson had replaced Tommy Seymour after the winger sustained a nasty head knock midway through the first half, but he was soon heading for the sidelines himself having picked up an injury.

With Warriors boss Gregor Townsend naming six forwards on the bench, that left Josh Strauss coming into the back-row, and number eight Ryan Wilson moving into midfield.

Glasgow burst into life with ten minutes of the second half gone, and threatened the home line for the first time through Hogg's arcing run into the 22. An overly-eager Edinburgh defender was guilty of tackling without using his arms, allowing Weir to reduce the arrears to four points with his fourth penalty.

Laidlaw missed with his next attempt from 40 metres, leaving Rob Harley the most relieved man inside Murrayfield having been marched back ten metres for backchat.

Edinburgh enjoyed sustained pressure in the away 22 as the hour mark approached, but were unable to make the pressure tell.

The Warriors confidence was now growing, and they begun to dominate both collisions and the breakdown where before they had appeared blunt and easily stifled.

Weir cut the gap to a single point from over 40 metres after a high kick caused havoc in the home ranks.

The telling blow was landed with fourteen minutes left on the clock, as a sweeping Glasgow move saw van der Merwe chip cleverly into the vast and inviting Edinburgh in-goal area. Hogg won the race to touch down with time to spare, and the hosts' protests of a forward pass in the build-up went unheeded.

Weir's missed conversion left the visitors ahead by just four points, but that proved to be enough, as a late home rally failed to materialise.

That left Edinburgh ruing those missed opportunities, and quite rightly wondering how they had been left consigned to another derby defeat.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Try: Fife
Con: Laidlaw
Pens: Laidlaw 3
Yellow Card: Brown

For Glasgow:
Try: Hogg
Pens: Weir 5
Yellow Card: Holmes, Hogg

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Izak van der Westhuizen, 2 Mike Coman, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Tony Fenner, 23 Sam Beard.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Stuart Hogg, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Robert Harley, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Chris Fusaro, 22 Henry Pyrgos, 23 Ruaridh Jackson.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Sco)

By Jamie Lyall
@JLyall93

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