GIVEN his decision to treat the two-legged 1872 Cup as two halves of the same match, then it was no surprise that Franco Smith wasn’t exactly turning cartwheels on Friday night despite Glasgow’s 22-10 victory over Edinburgh at a rather soggy Scotstoun.
Warriors weren’t at their best but defended well and made their chances count to give themselves the upper hand ahead of the return at Murrayfield in front of an anticipated crowd of around 30,000 on 30th December.
They ran in tries from Kyle Rowe and Ally Miller either side of Johnny Matthews’ maul effort, while Edinburgh’s sole grounding came from WP Nel during a period of extended first-half pressure that ought to have yielded more by way of points return.
Smith was naturally pleased to have eked out a victory in the incessant rain and hoped the conditions would be better next weekend to allow his team to play more expansive rugby.
“We see these two games as one, it’s a first half and a second half, so continuity will be important,” he said. “The result was fantastic. It would have been the perfect evening if we could have managed to get the last one over the line [for the bonus point]. But I’m really proud of the guys sticking to their process.
“I hope the weather plays its part next week because we’ve had a couple of wet evenings here which limited us. It can be frustrating and we kicked a little bit more than we should but the weather was bad.
“Now we’ve got to go to Murrayfield and we need to be better if we want to be involved in the business end.”
Edinburgh will also look to improve, especially on the discipline front where a raft of penalties led to Grant Gilchrist’s yellow-card which in turn contributed to their defeat. But a 12-point deficit does not seem insuperable.
“It was definitely a frustrating one for us,” admitted their flanker and international captain, Jamie Ritchie. “We left a lot out there, a lot of it through our own errors. Credit to Glasgow for keeping us out, but our discipline let us down at times, and we coughed up the ball two or three times in their 22. There were a few positives in there, but a lot for us to work on before next week.
“Derby games are often closely fought, and the weather turned on us in the second half at Scotstoun. That made it a bit harder to score tries, but again credit to Glasgow for managing to get themselves over the line a couple of times. But I’m backing us to chase that down – we’ll do our best to turn it around.”
In the meantime, a temporary ceasefire has broken out, with both teams given time off to spend Christmas with their families.
“We’re off through Boxing Day then back in on the 27th,” revealed Ritchie. “Guys have a little bit of time off to get away from rugby and spend some time with their families which we’ve not had in a long time. It will be really nice.”
For Smith, the occasion will be even more special with wife Tania and daughter Cara having flown in from South Africa to join him.
“You’re going to bring me to tears now!” he said. “It’s fantastic because I have my wife and daughter here. They are only here for short parts of the year. We’ll have our Christmas dinner and spend time with each other, and I’ll get my boys on the video call and make sure we spend enough time with them.
“I think we’ve spent only five minutes together all year as a family and that was after my boy played in the under-20 game against Georgia.
“We got to see each other for five minutes and we took a Christmas photo – and that was in June! My wife and daughter are here now until January 11th so it’s fantastic to have them and have a win in this period as well.
“We’re not going to train much now. It’s Christmas and our families are an important part of the team’s character. So we’ll come together again on Wednesday and have the team ready to go on Saturday.”