United Rugby Championship: Glasgow Warriors and Ulster claim narrow derby day wins over Edinburgh and Connacht
Glasgow Warriors put one hand on the 1872 Cup, defeating Edinburgh 16-10 in the first leg on Friday evening.
A hard-fought encounter saw just two tries scored, one apiece, in the Scottish derby. Backrower Jack Dempsey touched down in the first half for Glasgow, while openside flanker Connor Boyle scored for Edinburgh, with the Warriors’ superior kicking game seeing them to victory.
George Horne converted Dempsey’s try and added a penalty, with his five points and Tom Jordan’s six (two penalties), bettering the conversion from Emiliano Boffelli and penalty from Jaco van der Walt.
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Both sides made late changes ahead of kick-off. Glasgow promoted Lucio Sordoni, who was not even in the initial 23, to the starting line-up, with Murphy Walker dropping to the bench after Nathan MacBeth, who was among the subs, was forced to withdraw.
For Edinburgh, who were already without a string of key men through injury, Harry Paterson came in for just his second appearance after Wes Goosen was deemed unfit for action.
The visitors spurned a good chance to get the first points on the scoreboard in the fifth minute when Emiliano Boffelli – kicking into the wind – sent a penalty wide of the posts from a central position.
The Argentine’s kicking once again let him down eight minutes later when he kicked another penalty against the post.
Those missed kicks proved costly as Glasgow made the breakthrough in the 28th minute when Dempsey received a pass from George Horne and powered beyond a challenge from Chris Dean to touch down over the line. Horne duly added the conversion.
In the last action of the half, Horne kicked a close-range penalty to give Warriors a 10-0 lead at the interval.
But Edinburgh made a strong start to the second half and they got themselves back in the game when Boyle powered his way over following a line-out near the Glasgow line. This time, Boffelli was successful with his conversion.
The hosts – having been on the back foot for much of the second half – extended their lead to six points in the 67th minute when Tom Jordan kicked a close-range penalty.
And Jordan then kicked another penalty in the 75th minute to put Glasgow more than a converted score ahead of their visitors.
Jaco van der Walt gave Edinburgh a glimmer of hope with a long-distance penalty in the 79th minute, but it proved too little, too late.
Carty misses chance to seal the draw
Connacht captain Jack Carty missed a last-gasp conversion as Ulster clung on for a 22-20 United Rugby Championship derby win at the Sportsground.
Smarting from three straight defeats in all competitions, Ulster led by 16 points at one stage, and it was 22-8 after John Cooney’s 71st-minute penalty.
Connacht stormed back thanks to tries from replacements Jarrad Butler and Adam Byrne, the latter scoring deep into added time, but Carty pulled the difficult conversion wide.
A Rob Lyttle try had the visitors leading 5-3 at half-time, before Tom Stewart bagged a brace. Caolin Blade hit back on the hour mark, only for Connacht’s fightback to fall short.
There was little to separate the sides in the opening exchanges, Carty chasing down Ethan McIlroy after his pass had been intercepted by the Ulster winger, and it was not until the 29th minute that Dan McFarland’s side belatedly broke the deadlock.
Stewart and McIlroy showed quick hands, and although Luke Marshall’s offload was blocked by Tiernan O’Halloran, Lyttle managed to dribble the loose ball through and touch it down.
Cooney’s missed conversion was followed by Carty’s lone penalty as the first half finished 5-3 to the visitors.
It was all Ulster after the restart, though.
Their reliable maul did the damage for 21-year-old hooker Stewart to plunge over and Cooney made it 12-3.
Connacht dug in as Bundee Aki turned over Marty Moore before a scrum move involving McCloskey was well-defended.
Crucially, Stewart struck from another close-in drive in the 53rd minute – followed by a crisp Cooney conversion – to widen the gap to 16 points.
Blade showed impressive strength and speed to snipe over from a maul, although Carty badly missed the conversion at 19-8.
Having watched Stewart be held up short, former Connacht favourite Cooney landed a penalty which should have sewn up the result.
Instead, the Ulstermen had to endure a nerve-jangling finish. With replacement Greg Jones in the sin bin, they could not prevent Butler from crashing over after Cian Prendergast had a try ruled out for accidental offside.
Connacht then matched Ulster’s three-try tally, a brilliant surge downfield ending with Byrne powering over past Lyttle and Stewart Moore, but Carty’s kick from a tight angle faded away to the left as the visitors just held on for the win – their seventh in nine URC matches this season.
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