14-man Edinburgh win with the last roll of the dice

The 1872 Cup is possibly more important to the fans of both sides than how the, now three, matches affect the teams relative standing in the PRO14 competition and may well rival the other ‘old enemies’ clash to be played out in early March against England.

It was a fairly fraught first 10 minutes for the home side at BT Murrayfield as Glasgow started with an early penalty kick to touch, handing them the platform to score the opening try. It proved to be all nice and simple. Ball off the top of the lineout, draw in the defence, then get the ball wide to wing, Huw Jones. He then, more or less, trotted in for the touch down and 5-0. Stand-off, Peter Horne, then converted for 7-0 with less than three minutes played.

A couple of minutes later, fate conspired against Edinburgh again. Winning a penalty inside Glasgow’s 22 for a ruck infringement, the referee’s attention was drawn to suspected foul play. A fairly long consultation with the big screen showed that prop, Simon Bergan had ‘made contact’ with the head of an opposing player on the ground and, malicious or not, he was rightly red-carded and the penalty reversed.

Faced with the prospect of playing out the remainder of the game with 14 men, few in the stadium gave the home side much of a chance, but, Richard Cockerill’s men have found a new resolve this season and they would need it in the next 75 minutes.

As Edinburgh upped their game, Glasgow were forced into retreat when team captain, Stuart McInally, charged down a kick from Horne, immediately putting pressure on the visitors. A subsequent penalty, then a bit of a scuffle involving the two scrum halves, followed by another penalty, give Edinburgh the chance to pull back a few points and, with 17 minutes played, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne slotted the kick home for 7-3.

The next, almost, 20 minutes were fairly scrappy, with both sides having a go, but errors and a bit of decent defending kept the score at 7-3. However, as the end of the half approached, Glasgow had a couple of near misses in the ‘Red Zone’, but they were turned over on both occasions and the, almost forgettable, first half ended 7-3 to Glasgow.

The first 10 minutes of the second half were fairly frantic, with both sides making penetrating runs at the opposing defence with no real threat until Jones made an, almost decisive, run down the left wing, only to be hauled down by Edinburgh’s No. 10, Duhan van der Merwe, before he could pass the ball on.

The breakthrough, such as it was, came the way of the visitors around the 50 minute mark from a penalty, converted by Horne, to stretch Glasgow’s lead to 10-3. However, the gap was closed again a couple of minutes later by a successful Hidalgo-Clyne penalty for 10-6.

And then it all appeared to go wrong for the home side as Glasgow won a penalty and kicked for the corner, and the subsequent lineout, a few metres from the Edinburgh line. The home side chose not to contest in the hope that Glasgow would go through the ‘normal’ line out drill and be forced to obstruct, However, they called Edinburgh’s bluff and kept the ball at the front allowing lock, Scott Cummings, to, essentially, fall over the line for the try. Replacement 10, Finn Russell, then kicked the conversion to open up the gap to a seemingly unassailable 17-6 with less than 20 minutes to play.

It was to prove unassailable only in the minds of a select few as the home side went on the offensive and, following a sequence of penalties, had a lineout on Glasgow’s five-metre line. A more conventional approach to the whole lineout situation ensued and a couple of recycles later, substitute 9, Nathan Fowles, nipped round the right hand side of the maul to score. Van der Walt then converted for a 17-13 score and a, potential, losing bonus point……

Glasgow had another chance to score early in the final quarter, but, taking advantage of the narrow, home side defence, Russell’s nicely weighted kick over to the wing bounced awkwardly – imagine that – and just evaded Lee Jones’ dive in the left corner.

With the match drawing to a close, Edinburgh were looking a bit tired after fending off their opponents, but the final play of the match belonged to the home side. Another penalty kicked to touch set up the situation for them to win the match. As the rolling maul trundled forward, Glasgow were penalised twice and, playing under advantage, Chris Dean took the ball off the back and ran it unopposed into the corner for an 18-17 lead with less than a minute left on the clock. Van der Walt then took as long as he could to set up the kick. He missed, but that didn’t matter as the 14-man home side had inflicted Glasgow’s first defeat of their PRO14 season and now take a slim, one point advantage into the second round of the 1872 Cup at Scotstoun next weekend.

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