Glasgow fight-back downs Edinburgh

Edinburgh Rugby 16 Glasgow Warriors 20

It was first blood to Glasgow in the opening leg of the 1872 Cup at Murrayfield on Boxing Day as the visitors produced a compelling second-half fight-back to overcome Edinburgh.

Watched by a season-best crowd of 10,125, Edinburgh’s pack dominated the first-half and looked on course for their first derby victory since January 2011.

But the points which had flowed in the first-half, dried up in the second with scramble defence from the visitors denying Edinburgh’s go-to back-row forwards, David Denton and Cornell du Preez, early in the second-half and just after the hour respectively.

Edinburgh dominate first-half

While Edinburgh’s forwards were the dominant force in the first period, Glasgow’s pack looked the hungrier in the second-half, especially at breakdown and their bench made a greater impact.

Roddy Grant led out Edinburgh on the day of his 100th appearance for the club but the opening score went to the men from along the M8 as Duncan Weir landed a second minute penalty.

Denton was quickly into the action – his lineout catch and a concerted drive from his forward chums suggesting that the Edinburgh pack were up for this contest.

At the first scrum, Glasgow were penalised and Greig Laidlaw levelled the scores (3-3, 6 minutes).

Weir edged Glasgow ahead on 10 minutes after Willem Nel was penalised at breakdown but Edinburgh’s response was out of the top drawer.

They pinched a Glasgow lineout on the visitors’ 22 and went through a few phases for Greig Tonks and Du Preez to link and Jack Cuthbert to give a grand inside pass to Dougie Fife who followed up his try against champions Leinster last Friday with another cracking touchdown. Laidlaw converted for 10-6 after 14 minutes.

At the end of the first quarter, Weir narrowed the gap to one point with his third penalty, this time for offside.

Yellow cards

Laidlaw replied in kind on the 26th minute after he had been wiped out beyond the ball at a breakdown.  Tyrone Holmes, the guilty Glasgow player, saw a yellow card for his offence.

From the restart, Glasgow lost Tommy Seymour to injury and with Edinburgh winning their second scrum penalty, there was a chance for the Capital to establish some momentum and earn daylight between the sides.

It didn’t materialise, however, with the next notable event, a yellow card for Tom Brown and Stuart Hogg who had become involved in a petulant fracas on the East Stand touchline.

Glasgow were thus down to 13 men, Edinburgh to 14 and Cuthbert’s inability to hold a pass from Ollie Atkins looked crucial even at that juncture.

Edinburgh did exploit their numerical advantage before Holmes’ return, as Laidlaw goaled his third penalty for a 16-9 half-time lead.

Edinburgh began the second-half at a decent pace. Nick De Luca released Fife with a wide miss-one pass on the right, then Denton was held up on the left as Glasgow were further affected by injury.

Ruaridh Jackson was their next casualty meaning Ryan Wilson had to vacate the pack and set-up shop at inside centre.
Both sides were back to full strength in the 46th minute, Hogg returning to operate at full-back for Glasgow and Sam Beard replacing Brown.

Glasgow's rousing finale

Weir ate into Edinburgh’s lead with his fourth penalty in the 49th minute and, alas for the home support, Laidlaw could not respond similarly three minutes’ later after Glasgow were adjudged to have tackled an opponent without the ball. The offence was advanced 10 metres for back-chat but scrum-half’s kick was off target.

Glasgow had replaced four of their pack by the hour and when Chris Cusiter’s kick forced an Edinburgh infringement Weir knocked over his fifth penalty and the home lead was cut to a single point.

Du Preez was denied on the right after a sustained Edinburgh attack but it was Glasgow who finished with a flourish to underline their second-half resurgence as Robert Harley benefited from a turnover for his forwards to support, Alex Dunbar to carry on and DTH Van Der Merwe to kick through for Hogg to win the race for the try. Weir missed the conversion but Glasgow emerged victorious, their first victory since they had defeated Ospreys away last month.

Edinburgh Rugby: Jack Cuthbert; Dougie Fife, Nick De Luca, Ben Atiga, Tom Brown; Greig Tonks, Greig Laidlaw captain; Wicus Blaauw, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Ollie Atkins, Cornell du Preez, Roddy Grant and David Denton.  Subs: Sam Beard for Tom Brown (46 mins), Mike Coman for Grant (59-64 mins), Izac van der Westhuizen for Atkins (71 mins). Unused: Aleki Lutui, Alex Allan, Geoff Cross, Grayson Hart and Tony Fenner.

Glasgow Warriors: Sean Maitland: Tommy Seymour, Stuart Hogg, Alex Dunbar, DTH Van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter captain; Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Jon Welsh, Tim Swinson, Tom Ryder, Robert Harley, Tyrone Holmes, Ryan Wilson. Subs: Ruaridh Jackson for Seymour (27), Josh Strauss for Jackson (43), Dougie Hall for MacArthur and  Moray Low for Welsh (both 48), Chris Fusaro for Holmes and Leone Nakarawa for Swinson (both 58), Henry Pyrgos for Cusiter (66), Gordon Reid for Grant (74).

Referee: Neil Paterson (Dundee HSFP).