1872 Cup analysis: derby match failings highlight problems national team must tackle

Moments of class are few and far between as Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors slug it out in error-strewn encounter

Glasgow Warriors full-back Ruaridh Jackson celebrates but Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van der Walt tis less impressed after George Turner's match-winning try. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
Glasgow Warriors full-back Ruaridh Jackson celebrates but Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van der Walt tis less impressed after George Turner's match-winning try. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

FOR the first 65 minutes this was a desperately poor game of rugby that was saved by an electric and intriguing final quarter which boasted three tries, some decent play and an edge-of-the-seat excitement that was sadly missing from most of yesterday’s encounter.

It was impossible to ignore the referee who, a little like the recent speaker of the House of Commons, took centre stage when he would have been better advised to adopt a lower profile. The game was feisty, as all inter-city games are, but did this match really deserve the five yellow cards it got?

There the one little moment of class from each side in the final quarter and both of them were rewarded by tries. Adam Hastings had done little of note to date when the Glasgow fly-half dinked a little sand wedge over Edinurgh’s rush defence around the 65 minute mark and Huw Jones caught it and made a brilliant decision.

Ignoring Niko Matawalu outside him, the centre turned inside and drew two defenders to send Ali Price over the try line. Jones is about as popular as herpes with Glasgow coach Dave Rennie but he remains a potent attacking force although quite why Glasgow subbed him late in the game is anyone’s guess?

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Just five minutes later Blair Kinghorn got the ball on the left wing and stepped inside the covering defenders to score and reclaim the lead only to see Edinburgh march up the field, milk another penalty and yellow card, this one to Edinburgh scrummy Nic Groom, and march a maul over the Edinburgh line.

Glasgow won with a move from Edinburgh’s play book, although whether that will resonate with Gregor Townsend who was watching proceedings is anyone’s guess?

The home team edged this one as they had to do but they are papering the cracks because they share many of Scotland’s problems, not least the dreadful slow start where they were unable to get out of first gear throughout the first half.

Around the 34 minute mark, the official match stats claimed that the visitors had carried a rather modest 103 metres but that was Herculean compared to the 14 metres that Glasgow had managed in the same period, with no Warrior making it into double figures. Of course, those numbers improved, finishing 294 v 317, but had Glasgow been quicker out of the blocks they might have spent the final quarter looking for the four try bonus rather than fretting about a nervy win.

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Glasgow are also hopelessly ill-disciplined, losing the final penalty count by 15-10, and that comes from the top. Even at the death, the Warriors’ captain Ryan Wilson conceded the dumbest penalty you will witness in a long time, wrestling the ball back onto the Glasgow side while pinned at the bottom of a maul in full view of the match referee who, as we’ve seen, wasn’t going to give anyone the benefit of any doubt.

That stupidity gifted Edinburgh one last roll of the dice but the visitors lacked the composure, patience and pedigree to make Wilson pay and man-of-the-match Zander Fagerson came up with a crucial turnover to end the game.

In the enforced absence of brother Matt, serving time for an elbow to the chops of a La Rochelle player last weekend, Zander was clearly playing for two Fagerson’s rather than just the one. He tackled, jackled and carried like his life depended upon it.

In particular he enjoyed a good ding dong with Pierre Schoeman in both the tight and loose exchanges. While both behemoths had their moments in the set scrum, Fagerson will have enjoyed his post match beer that little bit more having sat the burly South African down on his backside with one barrelling run in the second half.

But the poor public had to sit through 65 minutes of dross before a rugby match eventually emerged from the mess. There were a host of mistakes on both sides.

In the first half, Blair Kinghorn missed touch with a penalty and, in the very same minute, Mark Bennett kicked straight into touch. After the break the same, anything-you-can-do attitude emerged again when when first Glasgow, in the form of Hastings, had a kick charged down before Nic Groom made the same mistake for Edinburgh. I know it’s a derby but the conditions were near perfect and three quarters of this match were a featureless mess.

These are the same unforced errors that undermine Scotland when repeated at international level when many of these same players pull on a blue shirt. It is no coincidence that the teams at the top of the twin conferences, Leinster and Munster, are the teams that boast the lowest error count.

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About Iain Morrison 146 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.


  1. Completely disagree on the analysis of the referee. He was very astute, got all the big decisions right and didn’t allow the players to shoot their mouths out when they felt like it. Too many refs (and Adamson is one of the worst) seem to want get into a dialogue with players ending upmrunnibg the match. Blain will go far with performances like this.

  2. missed the best bit of the game as I coudnt take any more refereeing decisions,but the players must take some of the blame,how many mistakes can 2 teams make in one game,25 penalties thats a penalty every 3 minutes,how many bad passes,how many dropped passes,scrums were a disaster, lineouts the same,no wonder the scottish team are crap,when the bulk of the scottish team come from these 2 teams,is it the players fault, or the coaches, or the scottish system,things will have to change, or we will be getting dropped from the top tier of rugby.

  3. I thought it was a good contest and fair play to Glasgow winning at the end. I also thought the referee had a good game overall despite a few contentious decisions. I was a little surprised that the offside had such a negative slant until I realised that Iain Morrison is the author. I wish he’d cheer up and show a bit of positivity for a change. He is in the privileged positions of getting paid to follow Scottish rugby – it would be nice if this was reflected in his articles.

  4. I think it was a flawed appointment of the ref. This was his fifth Pro14 game. Mike Adamson was reffing a Super6 game at the same time- did they mix the names up?! Referee development is really important but so is ensuring we have the most experienced officials for the tougher games.

  5. Agree with the last comment. Even if matters improve in the return leg, it’s consistently not conceding daft penalties (and not fecking dropping the ball on contact) that will see us improve both domestically and nationally. Putting a real premium on discipline in the academies will help – thinking needs to become part of our culture as much as being fast or fit.

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