EDINBURGH fought back from 19-7 down at half-time to defeat Glasgow Warriors 19-21 in this afternoon’s closed-doors ‘A’ team match, with a strong wind at Scotstoun dictating much of the direction of play.
Warriors used the game as an opportunity to test out several different line-ups, using 30 senior squad and academy players over the course of the match, while Edinburgh treated it much more like a traditional match.
Warriors raced into a 12-point lead, before Scotland cap Damien Hoyland marked his return to action for the first time since injuring his ankle in October by going over for the capital outfit, and Nathan Chamberlain converted.
Warriors scored another try before the break. Their three trie scorers were Tongan back-row Fotu Lokotui, tight-head prop D’arcy Rae and former Australian schoolboys scrum-half Jordan Lenac, who is on a training contract with Warriors and was supposed to play for Ayrshire Bulls in Super6 this season.
Australian hooker Sam Kitchen, who joined Edinburgh on a partnership contract with Ayrshire Bulls in June, carried on his prolific try-scoring exploits from last year’s Super6 when he went over from a line-out maul to start the away team’s second half comeback. Australian recruit Charlie Savala converted to make it 14-19.
Fijian international Mesulame Kunavula tied the match with a 20-yard charge to the line, and Savala hit a late penalty to secure his team’s victory.
“The weather conditions weren’t brilliant, with the wind and the rain,” said Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill. “We were playing into a headwind in the first-half, struggled to get territory and were behind on the scoreboard at half time, but in the second-half, with the weather conditions, we played some decent rugby.
“In the end a draw would have probably been a fairer result but it’s always nice to get the win.
“It was always going to be a little bit tricky for some guys who haven’t played for the best part for ten or eleven months, so it was interesting to see how the game flowed. But there was a lot of intent and physicality.
“It was good getting guys like Damien Hoyland and Murray McCallum back from injury, which is really good for us going into the Six Nations period.
“It was good to get Nathan Chamberlain game time, Charlie Savala did well when he came on for his first game in an Edinburgh shirt, and for guys like Ben Muncaster – who was playing his first game of men’s rugby ever – as well as the first time in an Edinburgh shirt.
“Guys like Patrick Harrison, who plays at Peebles was stepping up and playing senior rugby with us so, all round, for both teams, I think there was some real positives and probably something in the future we can replicate.
“A lot of these guys do all the training in the week, hold a lot of bags and help the 23 that’s preparing to play in a PRO14 or European game, so we put a real emphasis on preparing them for the game. This week the normal 23 were the guys holding the bags and doing all the donkey work for the young guys that were playing today.
“We prepared well, we treated it like normal first team preparation, with the meeting pre-match and buses to the game together. It was good for the spirit and the ambience of the squad, good to get guys playing, and treat them as they were the stars of the show, sort of speak.
“They want to get out there and enjoy themselves and the best way to develop is to play. Eventually getting the win makes it nice to review tomorrow (Friday), knowing we can still do lots of things better.”
“Those guys first experience of playing at Scotstoun is going there and winning and that’s good for our mentality as a club.”
Warriors head coach Danny Wilson added: “It’s great to see guys from both sides getting good minutes in a competitive game. For some boys this was their first game in 12 months and to play in a high level game will have been great for their development. Hopefully we can get more games like this organised in the future.”