Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh Rugby
It’s advantage Glasgow Warriors after the first leg of the 1872 Cup in front of an energized 6,000 crowd at Scotstoun.
The home favourites belied conditions which seemed tailor-made for a war of attrition, to produce a performance of substance and style leaving them in pole position to retain the silverware and local bragging rights, as well as picking up vital PRO12 points.
They take a nine points cushion to Murrayfield next Saturday for the second leg and garnered four RaboDirect PRO12 league points courtesy of tries through DTH Van der Merwe (2) and Robert Harley.
Edinburgh, trailing 17-3 at half-time, did engineer a second-half fight-back, closing the gap to six points on two occasions, but the Warriors were not to be denied and Duncan Weir closed out the game with his trusty boot.
Arguably, the only pity was that Glasgow did not garner the bonus point fourth try, especially after a period of pressure in the closing stages.
Gregor Townsend, Warriors head coach, said afterwards: "I'm delighted that we managed to score three tries tonight and looked so dangerous in the first half. We let our intensity slip a little in the second but I was very impressed with the impact Duncan Weir and Henry Pyrgos especially had on the match.
"Edinburgh are always a dangerous side, particularly when you give penalties away. They can bring themselves back into any game with Greig Laidlaw's boot so I was very pleased the way we stepped it up into the final twenty minutes and closed out the win.
"We go to Murrayfield next week and we know we need to keep up the same level of intensity to come away from their with a win. But we've picked up four PRO12 points tonight, and that's very important to our season."
To the dulcet seasonal tones of Dean Martin, Edinburgh kicked-off and Peter Murchie was quickly into the action with a secure catch.
From lineout possession off Van Der Westhiuzen, Edinburgh went through the phases and Visser and Tonks threatened on the narrow side before Edinburgh spilled the ball forward as the visitors continued to dominate the opening five minutes.
The game’s first scrum saw Glasgow awarded a penalty but it remained an edgy start, until, from ball off the tail of a lineout, a Ruaridh Jackson miscued pass actually worked in the stand-off’s favour as he astutely regathered, fed Murchie and the big full-back timed his pass sweetly to send in DTH Van der Merwe from 40 metres for his sixth try of the season. Peter Horne missed the conversion (5-0, 6 mins).
Seven minutes later Glasgow built on their lead. Denton spilled the ball in midfield and from the turnover Glasgow made a substantial dent into Edinburgh territory through the voracious engagement of Sean Lamont.
Glasgow then rumbled forward close to the Edinburgh line and eventually found space on the opposite touchline for Robert Harley to dot down. Horne was off target again. (10-0, 14 mins).
Chris Fusaro lost ball close to try number three and the Warrior menace was underlined anew as DTH almost uncorked Sean Maitland who was only denied by a gutsy saving tackle from Laidlaw.
Glasgow won an offside penalty as Jackson sought to maintain a high tempo. From the lineout his forwards honey-potted and surged on in a driving maul for Niko Matawalu to hoist a flighted kick which DTH pursued fruitfully to be awarded his second score of the night after consultation with TMO Jim Yuille. Horne this time landed the kick and Glasgow were well worth their 17-0 lead (25 mins).
Harley was pinged by assistant referee Bob Nevins for a late hit on Denton and on the half hour Al Kellock was nabbed for offside at a ruck, centre-field on the 22, and Laidlaw goaled Edinburgh’s first points (17-3, 31 mins).
HT Glasgow Warriors 17 Edinburgh Rugby 3
Laidlaw popped over his second penalty within three minutes of the restart and that triggered Edinburgh’s best period as stand-off Francis was dispatched by Matt Scott for their opening try. Laidlaw did not nail the conversion but the contest was back on (17-11, 49 mins).
Duncan Weir, introduced as part of a double half-back change with Henry Pyrgos, was short with a 63rd minute penalty attempt but Glasgow now roused themselves and when assistant referee Andrew McMenemy caught Edinburgh offside Weir did not err (20-11, 66 mins).
Edinburgh responded and Laidlaw landed his third penalty as the game moved into the final ten minutes (20-14, 69 mins).
Jones failed to catch a high ball and when Yapp was penalised for a high tackle Weir nudged the gap up to nine points again (23-14, 71 mins).
The TMO was called up again to adjudicate after Weir had threatened on the blindside with DTH but the ball had gone forward and the score was correctly ruled out.