Glasgow Warriors 7
DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield
THIS was not the antidote we were hoping for to wash away the disappointments and frustrations of 2020. The New Year got off to an inauspicious start for Scotland’s two pro teams as they fought out a grim contest on a cold but dry night in the capital.
Ultimately, Edinburgh’s composure at the start of the final quarter proved the difference. Victorious head coach Richard Cockerill and his players will take the league points and move on – and we will all hope for something a bit more entertaining when these two teams meet again at Scotstoun next Friday night.
The opening 10 minutes set the tone. It was a game of cat and mouse, then, slowly but surely, Edinburgh – aided by a careless fumble from Ratu Tagive – got on top. The hosts allowed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock to slip by them when they opted to scrum a penalty on Glasgow’s five-yard line, only to see a decision for collapsing go against them a few minutes later.
Edinburgh were back in the strike zone a few minutes later when a high tackle by Aki Seiuli on Darcy Graham allowed Blair Kinghorn to kick to the corner, but they still couldn’t find a way through Glasgow’s resolute defence, before a terrific double-tackle by Ryan Wilson and Zander Fagerson on Viliame Mata gave Warriors a chance to ease the pressure again.
Warriors finally made it into Edinburgh’s 22 with a wonderful slaloming run from Huw Jones just before the half hour mark – the only time this tussle really threatened to turn into a rugby match during the first hour – and the visitors should have taken the lead when awarded a penalty right in front of the posts, but Brandon Thomson, not for the first time in recent weeks, fluffed his lines.
Your granny could have back-heeled a chest of drawers over from there, but just as he did against the Dragons at the start of December, Thomson somehow contrived a way to miss.
That meant it was 0-0 at half-time. The score-line flattered the spectacle.
Finally, with 63 minutes gone, Jaco van der Walt struck a 40-yard ruck penalty which broke the deadlock and edged Edinburgh into a three-point lead.
Up until this point, Warriors had actually looked the marginally more dangerous when they had the ball – not a high bar to hurdle – but they shot themselves in the foot with 10 minutes to go when the hapless Thomson fired a pass behind Sam Johnson’s shoulder and van der Walt hacked the loose ball ahead.
There were four Edinburgh jerseys lining up to claim the try as it bobbled over the line, and it was replacement No8 Magnus Bradbury who stepped forward to do what needed to be done.
Warriors spent the last five minutes battering away at Edinburgh’s line, and got their reward when Lewis Bean wriggled over, and Ross Thompson – making his debut off the bench – popped over the straightforward conversion.
A bonus point salvaged by the visitors, but when Huw Jones lost possession in the tackle as he tried to run the restart back from his own 22, the chance of a last-gasp win evaporated.
The final whistle came as a blessed relief.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Graham, M Bennett C Dean, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (N Groom 66); P Schoeman (R Sutherland 56), S McInally (M Willemse 71), W Nel ( S Berghan 56), B Toolis, J Hodgson, J Ritchie, H Watson, V Mata (M Bradbury 67).
Glasgow Warriors: H Jones; L Jones, N Grigg, S Johnson (G Bryce 74), R Tagive; B Thomson (R Thompson 71), A Price (J Dobie 77); A Seiuli (G Thornton 60), G Turner (J Matthews 71), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 67), R Gray (L Bean, 74), S Cummings, R Wilson, T Gordon (T Ioane 63), M Fagerson.
Referee: Sam Grove-White
Edinburgh: Try: Bradbury; Con: Van der Walt; Pen: Van der Walt.
Glasgow Warriors: Try: Bean; Con: Thompson.