Glasgow Warriors 15
DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield
FANS at last! What a shame the 700 ‘lucky’ supporters who were lined-up in perfect, socially distanced columns in Murrayfield’s East Stand didn’t get more of a spectacle to mark the occasion. If last weekend’s contest between these same two teams exceeded expectations after a five-month hiatus, then this one fell frustratingly flat.
Three fumbles in the first minute and a half set the tone for a disjointed affair, apart from a brief glimpse of light just before the hour mark when both side suddenly found some rhythm in a passage of play which swept up and down the field before culminating in Ratu Tagive’s decisive try.
This is the first time Edinburgh have tasted defeat to Glasgow on home soil during the Richard Cockerill era. If there was any consolation the coach could take from his evening then it is surely that it will have left Ulster scratching their heads in confusion, trying to work out what on earth they should expect in next Saturday’s PRO14 play-off semi-finals.
With his experienced half-backs reinstalled, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis back to add ballast to the engine-room, and Stuart McInally ready to lead from the start, Edinburgh should be much better next week. If they are not then they will be in big trouble.
For Glasgow, it was a mildly pleasing end to a largely disappointing season, but there was no big celebrations at the end. It didn’t feel like that sort of occasion.
Edinburgh new boy Nathan Chamberlain settled his nerves early on with a tidy collection of Adam Hastings’ kick-off and a 40-yard clearance, but he was off target a few minutes later when he pushed a pretty long-range offside penalty to the right of the posts.
Hastings, meanwhile, opted to go for the corner when a collapsed line-out maul gave him an opportunity at a very achievable shot at goal, and that decision paid off when captain Fraser Brown burst from the base of another collapsed line-out maul, pirouetted out of a tackle and stretched across the line.
Hastings’ conversion dissected the posts, but his clearance from the restart went out on the full. An Edinburgh line-out malfunction let him and his team off the hook that time, but less than two minutes later the Warriors stand-off sent another wayward clearance downfield – this time right down Duhan van der Merwe’s throat (of all people!) – and the inevitable counter-attack culminated in Huw Jones committing a high tackle on Hamish Watson right under the posts, landing the full-back a yellow-card for his troubles and handing Chamberlain an easy three points.
Edinburgh failed to take any more advantage of their extra man. They had an extended period of pressure inside their opponents’ 22 just before the half hour mark, but their forwards struggled to make any headway against some stout defence and ended up conceding a ruck penalty.
Then, with Jones returned to the fray, it was Glasgow’s turn to squander promising field position when they were manhandled out of possession at a line-out maul just inside their opponents’ quarter.
The TMO was called into action twice during the final few minutes of the half as Warriors laid siege to Edinburgh’s line with a series of punishing tight drives and it was ruled on both occasions that the ball had not been grounded. The video evidence for the first query was inconclusive, while the second was a clear knock-on by Brown.
It didn’t improve much after the break. Hastings did manage to slice through Edinburgh’s defensive line, but then the opportunity was wasted when Stafford McDowall prodded a thoughtless grubber into touch.
The game finally burst briefly into life as we entered the final quarter, when Edinburgh attacked turnover ball from the middle of the park and launched a passage of play which zipped up to the Glasgow line, then all the way back down the field again largely thanks to an excellent 60-yard break-out from a quick tap-penalty on his own line by Ali Price. The move ultimately ending with Tagive’s try in the corner, after some good handling from Jones and McDowall.
Hastings edged Warriors further ahead with a penalty as the game slid back into the quagmire of mediocrity, and Edinburgh’s night was summed up with just over five minutes to play when they managed to squeeze a scrum penalty which they kicked to the corner, then overthrew the line-out.
Edinburgh Rugby: B Kinghorn; D Graham, J Johnstone, C Dean (M Gordon 63), D van der Merwe; N Chamberlain, C Shiel (R Frostwick 67); P Schoeman (R Sutherland 43-76), M Willemse (S McInally 43), S Berghan (W Nel 43), N Haining, J Hodgson, M Bradbury, H Watson (L Crosbie 53), V Mata (M Sykes 67).
Referee: B Blain
Edinburgh: Pen: Chamberlain.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Brown, Tagive; Con: Hastings; Pen: Hastings.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7 (h-t) 3-12; 3-15.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Warriors: Jones.