Glasgow Warriors cemented their position in the play-off places of the RaboDirect PRO12 and took home the 1872 Cup for a fourth successive year with victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
A first Warriors try for Sean Maitland and a score apiece for Ruaridh Jackson and half-back partner Henry Pyrgos gave Gregor Townsend’s side the win, with the platform built on a domineering defensive performance.
They now sit just two points behind second place Scarlets and a point behind Munster as the battle for the play-offs intensifies.
Captain Al Kellock said afterwards: “The boys were magnificent tonight. From 1 to 15 and throughout the squad there was an intensity, which was great to see.
“Yes, we’re disappointed that we let them in for a late score but for the majority of the game we were very, very good.
“The backs were outstanding and they showed the quality that they have if they are given good ball.
“With hindsight, we would have liked to have taken both games with bonus points as the chances were there, and the guys will be disappointed with that, but we’ve come away from two tough games with eight league points in the bag.
“The reaction in the last ten minutes to them scoring was brilliant. The energy in the changing room was phenomenal at half-time and we managed to keep that going, especially in that final period, when we stepped up again and closed out the game."
Warriors will now face Treviso at home on Friday, 4 January (kick-off 7.30pm) looking to make it three wins in a row in the league and maintain their pursuit of success in the RaboDirect PRO12.
With the pack ruthlessly efficient at the breakdown, the ball was moved wide to the left and the wing was in the line to evade two tackles and have the large Warriors supporter contingent on their feet early on in the afternoon.
The boot of Greig Laidlaw brought Edinburgh back into the game just a couple of minutes later when Stuart Hogg, who looked back to his menacing best throughout the match, was deemed to have taken out his opposite number, Tonks, under a high ball.
Peter Horne was sin-binned for an offence off the ball near the breakdown but the Warriors held firm with fourteen men and shortly after Horne's return to the field of play, Jackson would further extend the lead. He read the pass by Piers Francis, plucked it out of the air and took off from 40 metres out. Ears pinned back, the fly half headed for the corner and the second score of the day to make it 3-10 to Glasgow.
Two penalties by Peter Horne extended the advantage towards half-time and even with a Dougie Hall try disallowed, Warriors entered the break with a solid 13 point advantage.
Glasgow began the second half with the same intenstity as the first, with a searing break from the hugely impressive Sean Maitland setting up a chance for DTH van der Merwe in the corner. With the ball shuffled out to his wing, DTH looked to be over in the corner but the TMO ruled no try and a foot in touch.
One of the greatest weapons in the Warriors armoury all afternoon was a dominating scrum and the pack won numerous penalties at the set-piece, all contributing to more pressure on the home goal line.
Pyrgos was next to breach the whitewash as another scrum squeezed the home side. When the ball popped out from under the control of Ryan Wilson, Pyrgos was first to react and, after another decision by the TMO, the try was awarded.
Edinburgh tried to inject something a little different into the game and got their rewards almost immediately as Laidlaw, now at stand-off, dinked over the defence. Roddy Grant the eventual beneficiary as he touched down near the posts.
Glasgow should have put the game beyond any doubt when an incredible run from van der Merwe scattered the Edinburgh defence, his flipped pass to Hogg should have led to the easiest of scores but the full back took his eye off the ball to his obvious frustration and the try went begging.
It was game on come 75 minutes when Tim Visser finally showed what he can do, scoring the try that would make the last seven minutes a nervy affair. The big Scotland winger equalled Tommy Bowe for number of tries scored in the league, 48, when he touched down inside the final ten minutes but such had been the defensive effort, his threat had been largely nullified for the majority of the game with his first real involvement only occurring on 67 minutes.
Edinburgh, as they have done in seasons past, looked for the grandstand finish and had thrown caution to the wind in an attempt to breach the defences once again, but they met with Warrior resistance and the sounds of 'Glasgow, Glasgow' rang around the Edinburgh stands as the Warriors held out for a 17-21 victory.
15 Greig Tonks 14 Dougie Fife 13 Matt Scott 12 James King 11 Tim Visser 10 Piers Francis 9 Greig Laidlaw (Captain)
1 Allan Jacobsen 2 Andy Titterrell 3 Geoff Cross 4 Grant Gilchrist 5 Sean Cox 6 David Denton 7 Roddy Grant 8 Netani Talei
16 Steven Lawrie 17 Robin Hislop 18 Lewis Niven 19 Perry Parker 20 Dimitri Basilaia 21 Richie Rees 22 Ben Atiga 23 Sep Visser
15 Stuart Hogg 14 Sean Maitland 13 Sean Lamont (Sub Matawalu 72) 12 Peter Horne (Sub, Morrison 60) 11 DTH van der Merwe
10 Ruaridh Jackson (Sub, Weir 60) 9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Ryan Grant (Sub Reid, 67) 2 Dougie Hall (Sub MacArthur 54) 3 Moray Low (Sub Araoz 72) 4 Tom Ryder (Sub, Swinson 51) 5 Al Kellock (Captain)
6 Josh Strauss (Sub Eddie 63) 7 Rob Harley 8 Ryan Wilson
16 Pat MacArthur 17 Gordon Reid 18 German Araoz 19 Tim Swinson 20 James Eddie 21 Niko Matawalu 22 Duncan Weir 23 Graeme Morrison
Referee: Neil Patterson
|5||Neath Swansea Ospreys||22||14||7||1||62|
|11||Newport Gwent Dragons||22||6||16||0||28|
|12||Zebre Rugby *||22||0||22||0||7|
* A points deduction has been applied.
|Ulster Rugby||37||v||13||Cardiff Blues|
|Connacht Rugby||3||v||20||Glasgow Warriors|
|Edinburgh Rugby||31||v||24||Newport Gwent Dragons|
|Leinster Rugby||37||v||19||Neath Swansea Ospreys|
|Llanelli Scarlets||17||v||41||Benetton Treviso|