Edinburgh line up all their ducks with a win over Glasgow
With a fine, battling win over Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield on Saturday night, Edinburgh Rugby secured, not only, the 1872 Cup but, a PRO14 play-off place and a return to the big stage of European Rugby – the Champions Cup.
Two of the above were eased through by the draw earlier in the day between Ulster and Munster, but the 1872 Cup was up for grabs as the two protagonists each had a win to their names.
So, (some) pressure off, how would it go?
Not so well early on as Glasgow scored a twelfth minute try via the magic of Finn Russell’s boot.
Both sides had made early forays with the home side getting closer the try line, but having the ball turned over and cleared. Then, as Glasgow were pressing the home defence, a gap opened up on the left and the mercurial Russell lobbed a deft kick over the defence for winger, DTH van der Merwe, who collected and skipped past his opposite number to dive over near the corner. Russell then stepped up to convert for 7-0.
Then it was Edinburgh’s turn to attack and they exerted a huge amount of pressure on the visitors’ line, using their forwards to punch up through the centre before slinging the ball wide to the back division. Glasgow cleared for a short period, then it was back to work in defence as the onslaught continued.
The dam eventually broke from the middle as the play switched to the left and James Johnstone had a slightly harder job than DTH of scoring Edinburgh’s opener. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne then stepped up and slotted home the wide conversion for 7-7.
And then it was Glasgow’s turn to score…..
In a move initiated by Russell, he weaved through the tackles to complete a long break upfield, and put Callum Gibbons in close to the posts for their second try. Russell then converted again to open up the gap to 14-7 in favour of the visitors.
As the clock ticked over the 30 minute mark, the home side were beginning to dominate proceedings in the Glasgow half of the pitch, moving the point of attack all over the place and drawing a number of penalties from referee, Nigel Owens.
Reward for all the hard work came in the 36th minute following a series of near things on the line from the persistent Edinburgh pack. The final penalty on the list put the home side on the front foot and prop, Jordan Lay burrowed over for the try. Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion then meant that with a few minute to go in the half, it was, again, all square at 14-14.
From the restart, Edinburgh got straight back to the job in hand and a series of probing runs from wing, Dougie Fife and centre, Junior Rasolea – aided and abetted by a rampant pack – soon had play back in the danger zone and, in a repeat of their first try – this time through Duhan van der Merwe (no relation…) – the third was on the board. Once again, Hidalgo-Clyne proved his worth – why is he going? – and kicked the conversion for 21-14 to Edinburgh at the break.
The first 10 minutes, or so, of the second half were dominated by a lot of huge hits, some of which were audible from half way, but Edinburgh were the first to threaten the line, but the ball was lost over the side line in the 22, initiating a mild scuffle in the goal area.
As Glasgow were beginning to come back into the match, a loose pass was grabbed by Stuart McInally and the hooker then made a 60+ metre break, before running out of legs and the play breaking down. However, this all lead to a penalty at the breakdown for Edinburgh and, with 65 minutes played, Duncan Weir knocked the ball over to extend the lead to 10 points at 24-14.
With the defences on top, it took a 69th minute try from Glasgow’s van der Merwe to inject a bit of attacking flair with his second – this time unconverted – try and 24-19, but, despite this and the visitors throwing the kitchen sink at the home side defence in the final minutes, Edinburgh held on to take the win, the Cup, the play-off place and the Champions Cup qualification. All in the first year of Richard Cockerill’s tenure at BT Murrayfield. Must be a coincidence, eh…?
Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.