Edinburgh take 12-point advantage into second leg

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Watched by a record crowd of 23,642, it was an emotional opening to procedures on Sunday at BT Murrayfield as Roddy Grant carried the match ball – and his young daughter – out onto the pitch having announced his retirement due to injury the previous day.

And it was a pretty emotional start to the match for the Edinburgh supporters as, six minutes in, the visitors scored the opening try. Glasgow easily held off Edinburgh’s early attacking play and launched their own. The pack worked the ball into the 22 where the backs took over and, exploiting space out wide, Finn Russell found Mark Bennett in space and the centre crossed the line for the five-pointer. Russell, due to have a ‘difficult’ day, missed the conversion, but the away side were 5-0 ahead.Edin Rep-EdinvGlas-3

Edinburgh came back strongly from the restart and put pressure on the Glasgow side, barely allowing them any time on the ball and using their kickers well to gain territorial advantage.

Edinburgh’s first try came in the 13th minute when a pass out from Dougie Fife found Cornell du Preez near the touchline. The No. 8 then set off up the line in his usual fashion, slipping the tackle from Leone Nakarawa, before steam-rollering his way over Russell. He was then brought down in a two-man tackle, but managed to get the ball away to Matt Scott who then had a fairly clear sprint in from the edge of the 22 to score. No. 9, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – in contrast to Russell – slotted the kick home to take the lead for the home side at 7-5.

The next score was just on the half hour and, again, came from the boot of the Edinburgh scrum half. Following a fairly evenly balanced period of play, Glasgow won a penalty, which Russell failed to convert, but Edinburgh then won one of their own, which Hidalgo-Clyne scored to stretch the lead – which they took into the break – to 10-5.

The second half started, more or less, where the first had left off, with both sides making a variety of incursions into opposition territory, but Glasgow were first on the score board again from a successful Russell penalty to close up the difference to 10-8.

However, in the way of things, it took Edinburgh two minutes to restore the five-point gap with a penalty of their own from Hidalgo-Clyne.

Edin Rep-EdinvGlas-4Another exchange of penalties – Glasgow first, followed by Edinburgh – then took the score to 16-11 as the match entered the final quarter. The visitors attack made inroads into the home half, but heavyweight wing, Taqele Naiyaravoro – who had failed to make any ground all match – tried to run over full back, Jack Cuthbert down the right touch line. Cuthbert was more than up for the task and the ball was soon on its way back to the Glasgow half. A penalty then put play on the five-metre line with a lineout and a chance for Edinburgh.

With the ball won, and in the hands of flanker, John Hardie, he and a couple of his mates crashed through to score the home side’s second try. Hidalgo-Clyne, once more, successfully saw the ball over and, with the score at 23-11, and less than 10 minutes to play, Glasgow would have to score two tries and convert one to, at least draw. They came close to one of them with a couple of minutes left, as Mark Bennett had another go and then Tom Brown put his life on the line to put Naiyaravoro into touch. An, almost, unfortunate TV technician on the sideline must have seen his life flash before his eyes as the 19 stone winger crash landed at his feet, almost taking him out!

That, however, was the last hurrah for the visitors and the match ended 23-11 to Edinburgh and they now take that 12 point advantage through to Scotstoun for the second leg on the 2nd January.

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Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.