Edinburgh Rugby V Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors claimed the spoils at BT Murrayfield this afternoon, as they saw off Edinburgh 25-12 in the first leg of the 1872 Cup.Junior Bulumakau scores the opening try at BT Murrayfield

Tries from Junior Bulumakau, Josh Strauss and Alex Dunbar gave Gregor Townsend’s side the win, as a crowd of 21,036 at BT Murrayfield roared their respective sides on in the Boxing Day encounter.

In front of the crowd, the Warriors made the perfect start. After Alex Dunbar’s kick into the Edinburgh 22 was fumbled by Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn, Junior Bulumakau was on hand to touch down for the game’s opening try with just 55 seconds on the clock. The conversion drifted just wide, but Glasgow led 5-0.

Despite heavy rain earlier in the afternoon, both sides were looking to throw the ball around at every opportunity. A sustained period of possession for Edinburgh led to referee Ian Davies penalising the Warriors, allowing Duncan Weir to register the home side’s first points of the evening.

In an open first quarter, running rugby was king. Finn Russell was inches away from darting through a gap, whilst only good cover defence from Mark Bennett stopped Chris Dean making a clean break for Edinburgh.

The home side were beginning to gain the upper hand in both possession and territory. After conceding one penalty too many, the Warriors were reduced to 14 men after 22 minutes as Alex Allan was shown the yellow card. Weir was on target with the resulting penalty to give Edinburgh a 6-5 advantage.

Allan returned to the field, and almost immediately the Warriors regained the lead. With Russell having elected to kick a penalty into the corner, Glasgow’s forwards took charge. A dominant rolling maul saw them drive to within a metre of the Edinburgh line, before Josh Strauss touched down for the try. Russell added the extras, and Glasgow had a 12-6 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.

Glasgow were ending the first-half the stronger of the two sides, and almost finished the half in the same manner in which they had started. Mark Bennett’s scything break in midfield took the Warriors into the Edinburgh 22, but they were unable to cross the whitewash despite recycling the ball through several phases. Instead, they consoled themselves with a Russell penalty, meaning the visitors led 15-6 at the interval.

Both teams came out firing at the start of the second-half, and a break from Stuart Hogg led to referee Davies awarding Glasgow a penalty on the Edinburgh 22. However, on this occasion Russell’s strike was wayward, and the score remained unchanged.

Instead, it was left to Weir to open the scoring for the second period, the Edinburgh fly-half kicking a penalty after 53 minutes to narrow the gap to 15-9.

Russell cancelled out Weir’s effort with an unorthodox effort just three minutes later. Lining up a penalty in front of the posts, the ball fell off the tee as Russell was completing his run-up. Undeterred, however, the fly-half picked up the ball, composed himself, and dropped the goal from 30 metres. The first drop-goal of his career, Russell’s efforts restored Glasgow’s nine-point lead.

Alex Allan and Mark Bennett celebrate at the end of the gameEdinburgh were determined to reply immediately, and did so. Weir added his fourth penalty of the afternoon after the home side had threatened the Glasgow line, making it 18-12 to the Warriors.

However, it was the visitors who were playing the more ambitious rugby, and it paid off with 13 minutes to play. After spending a succession of phases in the Edinburgh 22 totalling five minutes of uninterrupted possession, Russell, Brian Alain’nuese and Sean Lamont combined to send Alex Dunbar over for Glasgow’s third try of the game. Russell added the conversion from a tricky angle, giving Glasgow a 25-12 advantage.

Determined to get something from the game, Edinburgh set up camp in Glasgow territory, pushing hard for the try. Tenacious defence from the Warriors pack, however, ensured their line remained unbroken.

Even in the final act of the game, Glasgow ensured their opponents would take nothing from the game. With Viliame Mata looking for all the world like he would score a consolation try for Edinburgh, scramble defence from the Warriors saw the big Fijian held up over the try-line, bringing an end to a frenetic encounter.

It is Glasgow, then, who take the upper hand into the second leg with the Crabbies 1872 Cup up for grabs, as well as four valuable Guinness PRO12 points. Next up for the Warriors is a trip to Treviso on Hogmanay, before they host Cardiff Blues in January.

live commentary 4:05 PM Monday 26 Dec 2016

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