CHARACTER under pressure is a quality which Edinburgh have at times been accused of lacking, but they had it in abundance at Murrayfield this afternoon, to the delight of head coach Richard Cockerill. The pressure was certainly severe at stages in their 29-19 win over Glasgow, especially in the third quarter when the Warriors threatened to take control of the contest.
In the end, though, it was the home team who came out on top with two late tries, delighting Cockerill not only for the sake of getting a victory in the second derby of the season after losing the first last week, but also because of the effect it had on the PRO14 table, where they are now just a point behind Munster at the top of Conference B. “I’m delighted with the win: I thought the players showed huge character across the board to take maximum points, which is huge for us,” Cockerill said. “The way the conference is panning out, these tight wins are going to be huge for us.
“We need to make sure we turn around, have a good training week, pick the right team and play with the same intensity and skill against Kings next week. As we know, Edinburgh have a habit of climbing a mountain and then falling off the cliff at the other side, so we have to make sure we avoid that.
“It was a see-saw game. We believe in the systems we’ve got. Whether you like or dislike our systems, they work pretty well. We can still do it better than we did tonight, but it was good that we stayed in the battle. We put them under pressure, we believed in ourselves, kicked to the corner and went for the extra point.
“The players should take huge belief and confidence from how they performed. Glasgow are a quality team with quality players. They’re very dangerous when they have the ball, you saw that tonight, and we want to be thought of as that quality of team. It’s not a fluke when we beat them.”
One downside of the win was the rib injury that ended Stuart McInally’s match before half-time, but Cockerill is hopeful that the hooker will soon be back. “It’s just bruising – it will be probably a couple of weeks,” he added.
Bruised but not broken
As for Glasgow, a fifth defeat from nine games in the league leaves them in a difficult position, but one from which Dave Rennie is sure they have the ability to extricate themselves. The Warriors coach was dissatisfied with his team’s error count, but was also happy to praise Edinburgh for a spirited display.
“It was an arm-wrestle for a big chunk of it,” Rennie said. “We got our nose in front a couple of times in the second half, but to Edinburgh’s credit they kept coming back and I thought they played really well. They were pretty clinical: a couple of their tries came from us on possession turnovers, so got to give them credit.
“We had possession late in the game, we tried to steal the game and we knock it on, they go wide and go the length of the field. That’s the type of thing we normally do. They don’t tend to play from deep but if you have a lineout and turn it over, they’ve got a lot of numbers in the line and a lot of space so that was a little bit different. We’re turning over in key positions and that’s what hurt us. It’s hard to win big games with the amount of errors we made.”
That late score from Darcy Graham put Edinburgh ten points clear, and although that meant the game was beyond Glasgow, a fourth try in the final minutes would have given them two bonus points in defeat – something which may be critical in a tight fight for the play-offs at the end of the regular season. “We talked about that – if we could get our hands back on the ball and score, we could have got a couple of bonuses which would have helped,” Rennie added. “We would have liked to have got something out of the game, but we have to give Edinburgh credit.”