WHEN Scott Cummings showed great game-awareness to trundle straight through the middle of the gap created when Edinburgh stood off a line-out drive in an attempt to coax a penalty out of referee Frank Murphy, and then dived over the line to put Glasgow Warriors 6-17 ahead with 25 minutes to go in Saturday evening’s 1872 Cup clash at BT Murrayfield, it felt at the time like it was going to be the decisive moment in the clash.
Despite Warriors getting off to a flying start, with a try from Huw Jones inside two minutes, and then getting another big boost when home prop Simon Berghan was red-carded for stamping in the fifth minute, the PRO14 pace-setters had struggled during the next 50 minutes to establish the sort of momentum which was the hallmark of their league form leading into this encounter.
Surely now they would settle into their groove; and surely their plucky opponents were finally going to run out of steam.
Well, it didn’t quite work out like that. Instead of being a launch-pad for the Warriors, that score ended up as the catalyst to a brave and historic Edinburgh fight-back – and while the capital side deserve all the credit they get for one of the most remarkable victories in 1872 Cup history, there is no escaping the fact that they were helped along by a strangely inept performance from their opponents.
“That try got us 11 points ahead and gave us that buffer, but after that we didn’t exit properly, they get a lineout in our half and the pressure was back on us. It wasn’t as if it was a lead that was unassailable for them,” lamented Cummings afterwards.
It was, in fact, Cummings who was penalised for side entry at a ruck a few minutes later after Warriors had tried and failed to run the restart back from inside their own 22. Edinburgh kicked to the corner, and it was replacement home scrum-half Nathan Fowles who burrowed over on the hour mark after some tenacious work by the home forwards.
Were Warriors guilty of putting the cart before the horse? Did they under-estimate their opponents?
“We’re not the sort of team that gets complacent. We’re always pushing on. We just didn’t perform, that’s the bottom line,” insisted Cummings.
“Obviously when you score early and they get a red card, that sometimes makes you think the game’s going to be a bit easier but it wasn’t. Credit to Edinburgh, they really stuck in there and it was a close game. They really just niggled in and kept putting pressure on us. We need to look at ourselves in that area. We didn’t perform anywhere close to where we know we can so it’s all to do with us.”
“With them being down to 14 men, there was more space on the pitch for us but it certainly didn’t look that way at times. We didn’t use that space anywhere near as well as we usually do. We’re a team who likes to play the ball. It’s always the situation when we play Edinburgh that you get caught up in that up-front battle, trying to get one over on your opposite man. We need to be smarter as a team. We’ve got 15 men and they’re all decision makers and we didn’t make the right ones.”
Fortunately for Cummings and his team-mates, they have a near immediate chance to get some revenge, with Edinburgh due at Scotstoun in four days’ time. After this result, on top of back-to-back defeats in Europe, the Warriors really do need to make sure of a morale boosting win.
“It’s our home patch and we don’t want to repeat that performance. They are a team on a high as they’ve won a lot of games but we need to get back into the way of things.”