Glasgow Warriors 32
DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield
A THUNDEROUS second-half turnaround saw rampant Glasgow Warriors wipe out an eight-point deficit and charge into a totally dominant 12-point lead with five minutes to go, and although a late try from replacement hooker Paddy Harrison salvaged a losing-bonus point for Edinburgh that clearly provided scant consolation to beaten head coach Mike Blair afterwards.
“They were able to take control of the game and we were hanging in there at the start of the second half,” he reflected afterwards. “I felt if we got away clean around that Marshall Sykes yellow-card [in the 65th minute] it would have been a bit easier for us, but we didn’t and their chests seemed to come out a bit, and they were playing with a bit of confidence and creating opportunities
“They are a good team. They got a lot more possession in the second half. When had possession in the first half we were able to put pressure on them with our attack and our kicking game, but they were just able to make more of that possession in the second half than we managed.
“I’m feeling challenged in the job,” he admitted, reflecting on his team’s record of one win from their last six matches in all competitions. “I’m obviously pretty new to it with not a huge amount of experience, but I’m also very clear that we are a good side with good personnel.
“So, I’m challenging myself because I’m clearly not getting the best out of players at the moment whether that’s an individual situation or a team situation. So, I need to look at what I’m doing and find a way out of this.
“I still don’t believe we are far off because we are playing good rugby. We need to start looking more at our belief and psychologically where we are, because we are doing enough good stuff, but we’re having periods where teams are finding it too easy to put points on us.
“We have discussed how you change momentum of a game, through working on you ‘no talent’ battles, or our communication being more challenging of each other in that period, or producing big moments through a big hit or a strong ball-carry, but we weren’t able to find that tonight.”
Meanwhile, for the victors, there was the immediate gratification of getting to lift the 1872 Cup having achieved a 48-35 aggregate win over their great rivals from this festive season’s double-header, and more importantly they have moved four points clear of Edinburgh in the URC table, strengthening their position for play-off and Champions Cup qualification. This was their first away win in this fixture in six years.
“I’m really delighted for the boys,” said Warriors head coach Franco Smith. “We had a plan and they stuck to it, and I thought the second half, the energy the boys brought from the side [as replacements] and the way they reacted to the half-time talk, was fantastic.
“We lacked a little of belief and one or two things said at half-time helped us align again. There was some decisions made in pre-season on how we want to approach the campaign and they [the players] have bought into the philosophy. We think there is [still] a lot to work on but if you have this buzz in the changing room it will help.
“The first half showed that expectation is our enemy,” he added. “There was a lot of expectation around us and I felt that drained our energy so the quicker we get rid of the expectation around our next performance the better it will be. We’ve got the Stormers coming [next Sunday] – they are the champions of this competition – and it is going to be a tough afternoon if we don’t find our feet immediately. With them being the favourites, it will be good.”
The biblical winds and rain which had buffeted Edinburgh overnight and into the morning had calmed by kick-off time, and it wasn’t too cold, which was surely the key factor in this match – from the very start – being a much more open and entertaining affair than the first leg at Scotstoun seven days earlier.
Glasgow laid down an early marker when they earned a scrum penalty, and after kicking to the corner they built through the phases, with big carries from the excellent Sione Tuipulotu and Richie Gray, before Kyle Steyn stepped inside three weak Edinburgh tackles to score the opening points.
Tom Jordan nailed the conversion, but Edinburgh bounced back when Sam Skinner charged-down Ali Price’s clearance and Jamie Ritchie barged over to set up an easy Emiliano Boffelli conversion which squared the contest with 11 minutes played.
The hosts grabbed the lead two minutes later when a powerful surge from Viliame Mata took play up to Glasgow’s 22, and Ollie Smith was penalised for entering a ruck from the side, handing Kinghorn three easy points.
Edinburgh came close again on 19 minutes when Duhan van der Merwe burst onto Henry Pyrgos’ inside pass straight off scrum ball, carrying three men over the line, but Sebastian Cancelliere did well to get his body between the ball and the ground.
All the momentum was with the capital outfit now, and a huge scrum near halfway shoved Warriors off their own ball to earn a penalty, before Luke Crosbie grabbed Edinburgh’s second try by off the back of a line-out maul, with Kinghorn adding the tricky conversion from wide on the right.
But Warriors stayed in the battle with a cute play from a line-out which involved winger Steyn as front lifter to centre Stafford McDowall, who patted down to Gray peeling round the front, and Matt Fagerson finished the move, but Edinburgh had the last say of the first half when Kinghorn slotted his second penalty of the evening, after another dominant home scrum.
After 10 minutes of cat and mouse at the start of the second half, Warriors stand-off Jordan broke Edinburgh’s defence when he fended Mark Bennett and it took some excellent defence by Emilano Boffelli on his Argentinean countryman Cancelliere to stop a near certain try.
But there was no stopping Glasgow the next time they attacked, with Gray’s soft hands sending Sione Vailanu on a trademark gallop deep into enemy territory, before feeding Cancelliere to make more good ground up the right touchline, with Jordan finishing off. Jordan converted himself to pull it back to a one-point game with just over 20 minutes to play.
Glasgow were straight back on the offensive, and they snatched the lead with 13 minutes to play with a George Horne penalty after Sykes was yellow carded for an offside bang in front of the posts..
That was Horne’s first major involvement after coming off the bench to replace Ali Price, and it got even better for the scrum-half when he finished off a sweeping attack which featured a clever kick ahead by man-of-the-match Tuipulotu and an excellent pick up and pass inside from Steyn to Jordan, who provided the final pass.
Having shown their flashy side, Glasgow then showed their grunt up front by squeezing out another penalty through an uncompromising line-out drive, which Horne kicked to make it a 12-point lead, before Harrison’s late try meant Edinburgh did at least end up with something from the match.
Edinburgh: H Paterson; E Boffelli, M Bennett, J Lang (C Hutchison 71), D van der Merwe (C Savala 65); B Kinghorn, H Pyrgos (C Shiel 69); B Venter (P Schoeman 50), T Cruse (P Harrison 61), W Nel (A Williams 69), S Skinner (M Sykes 60), G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, L Crosbie, V Mata ( C Boyle 57).
Glasgow Warriors: O Smith: S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall, K Steyn; T Jordan (D Miotti 76), A Price (G Horne 60); J Bhatti (N McBeth, 60), F Brown (G Turner 52), L Sordoni (S Berghan 11-21, 52), S Manjezi (L Bean 40), R Gray (J du Preez 60), M Fagerson, S Vailanu (C Neild 76), J Dempsey.
Referee: Sam Grove-White
Edinburgh: Tries: Ritchie Crosbie, Harrison; Con: Boffelli 2; Pen: Boffelli 2.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Steyn, Fagerson, Cancelliere, Horne; Con: Jordan 2, Horne; Pen: Horne 2.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 10-7; 15-7; 17-7; 17-12; 20-12 (h-t) 20-17; 20-19; 20-22; 20-27; 2o-29; 20-32; 25-32.
Yellow cards –
Edinburgh: Sykes (65mins)