Glasgow Warriors 16
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun
FIRST blood to Glasgow in this festive season’s 1872 Cup double-header, and four valuable URC league points obtained which leap-frogs them ahead of their inter-city rivals and up to fifth in the table (at least until Boxing Day) – but Edinburgh will certainly fancy their chances of turning around the six-point deficit in next Friday’s re-match to claim the silverware, and they’ll also draw some consolation from Jaco van der Walt’s late penalty securing a losing bonus-point which could be crucial in the final shakedown at the end of the season.
“I’m very happy with the fight for the gain line the guys showed,” said the victorious head coach Franco Smith. “We didn’t get the attacking platforms we hoped for, but the guys stuck in well. There’s still a lot of learning to be done, but I’m happy to get the win.
“Next week will be a completely different story away from home. We’ve got Christmas now and I hope the guys enjoy that, but we know we will face a really strong Edinburgh team next week.”
“I think it’s a derby match. Edinburgh are a quality side. But I wasn’t too concerned,” he replied, when asked about Edinburgh’s second-half rally. “We must learn now how to muscle teams out in the last 20 minutes to see the game out. I’ve seen worse games. If you see the conditions, both teams were positive. They carried the ball
“Yes, there were errors, but I don’t think it was that bad. I think there was enough entertainment. There were some great collisions, both teams got really close with the ball in hand. But I think without the ball we did our job very well.”
Both teams had to make late changes to their line-ups with Warriors’ replacement loose-head Nathan McBeth‘s withdrawal through illness causing a reshuffle which saw Lucio Sordoni added the starting XV at tight-head, and Murphy Walker dropping down from the team to become loose-head cover.
That will be a major disappointment for Walker, who will have been targeting this match as an opportunity to press his case for a central role in Scotland’s upcoming Six Nations campaign, but didn’t end up making it onto the pitch for a cameo appearance before the end. In the event, Glasgow’s scrum struggled until Edinburgh swapped out their starting front-row midway through the second half.
Edinburgh’s change was in the back three, with Wes Goosen a late call-off with a calf injury, meaning Emiliano Boffelli moved from full-back to the right wing in place of Goosen, while Harry Paterson took over in the No 15 jersey in just his second appearance for the capital side.
Edinburgh were sharper out the blocks and had the first scoring chance of the game when Warriors flanker Sione Vailanu was penalised for coming in from the side, but Emiliano Boffelli was uncharacteristically wide with his penalty attempt from just inside the Glasgow 10-metre line.
Warriors had barely escaped their own half up to that point, but they did so a minute later, and thought they had claimed the first try of the match when Jamie Bhatti barged through three tackles and stretched for the line, only for the referee to give a penalty against the prop for a double movement.
Boffelli had a second chance to open the scoring, but the normally reliable goal-kicker hit the post this time, and that was as close as it got to a score in the opening quarter.
The deadlock was finally broken when Glasgow thrice kicked penalties to the corner, and after being frustrated in their attempts get their line-out maul into gear, they moved in-field, with Vailanu, Bhatti and Fraser Brown all carrying hard, before Jack Dempsey burst past Chris Dean and James Lang on his way to the line, with George Horne converting.
Having been under pressure for much of the opening quarter-hour, Warriors slowly gained the upper hand i, and had threatened to take the lead for some time before that 29th-minute score. Edinburgh’s efforts to hit back straight away were easily repelled, and they were dealt another blow just before the break when Chris Dean was forced off with ahead injury following a collision with Sione Tuipulotu.
There was time for one more play after that, and it ended with the home side being awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Horne scored to put his team into double figures.
Edinburgh looked livelier after the break with Lang breaking the line then releasing Duhan van der Merwe on the left touchline, but the big winger couldn’t get past Josh McKay’s excellent cover defence.
The visitors continued to dominate territory and possession for the next 10 minutes, with the home defence initially standing strong, before all that pressure finally delivered for Edinburgh when Connor Boyle marked his first start of the season by spinning off a maul then motoring over the line.
Boffelli made some amends for his earlier misses by slotting the conversion, but Warriors burst back into life with McKay going close after a powerful surge up the middle of the park from Vailanu. And after their scrum had been under pressure all evening, the hosts took advantage of an all-new Edinburgh front row to win a set-piece penalty right in front of the sticks.
Tom Jordan stepped up to kick the goal, which stretched the home lead back out to six points with just under 15 minutes to play.
Then a huge tackle by Glasgow’s giant South African JP du Preez on Ben Muncaster won another penalty with six minutes to go, and Jordan once again delivered to create a nine-point cushion, which effectively killed off the contest – although a last-minute penalty from Van der Walt secured a losing point for the visitors.
“That was a real derby game and we probably didn’t see the best of either team,” said beaten head coach Mike Blair afterwards. “Sometimes that happens and it is how you manage the big pressure moments. I thought we weren’t at our best into the breeze, but we managed the conditions pretty well and managed to restrict them to just the one try.
“In the second half we struggled back into the game and put ourselves within three points, but there was just a couple of things which had they gone the other way, of had we been slightly smarter with our decision-making, the result could have been the other way.
“They deserved their win tonight. I thought they showed more physicality than us at the start of the game and more intent.
“There were two teams there who wanted to play,” he added. “The breakdown was pretty messy, which is something we had previewed before the game. Ben Blain, the referee, lets the contest happen, which is fine, but it can sometimes make the game a little bit messy because teams don’t get as much quick ball.
“We had a bit of desperation when we were going to the win at the end, and you think at that point that if we can get our own stuff in order – our speed to contact and our brutality – we can get quick rucks and put the opposition under pressure. So it is very much in our hands.”
Glasgow Warriors: J McKay: S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall, K Steyn; T Jordan, G Horne (A Price 61); J Bhatti, F Brown (G Turner, 51), L Sordoni (S Berghan, 51), S Manjezi (L Bean 51), R Gray (J du Preez, 63), M Fagerson, S Vailanu, J Dempsey (C Neild 62).
Edinburgh: H Paterson; E Boffelli (J van der Walt, 75), J Lang, C Dean (C Scott 38), D van der Merwe; C Savala, B Vellacott (H Pyrgos 53); P Schoeman (B Venter 51), T Cruse (P Harrison, 61), W Nel (A Williams 61), G Young (M Sykes 51), G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, C Boyle, V Mata (B Muncaster 61).
Referee: Ben Blain
Glasgow Warriors: Try: Dempsey; Con: Horne; Pen: Horne, Jordan 2.
Edinburgh: Try: Boyle; Con: Boffelli, Pen: van der Walt.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0; 7-0; 10-0 (h-t) 10-5; 10-7; 13-7; 16-7; 16-10.