Glasgow Warriors 20-16 Edinburgh

A 78th minute try from George Turner proved decisive for Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun this evening, as Dave Rennie’s men claimed a 20-16 win over Edinburgh in the opening match of this season’s 1872 Cup.

A man-of-the-match showing from Zander Fagerson epitomised all that was good about the Warriors, on a night where flashes of attacking brilliance and a resilient defensive attitude earned the home side all four points at a sold-out Scotstoun.

It was the home side that looked the most lively in the opening exchanges, harrying their visitors at every opportunity under the Scotstoun floodlights. Their efforts were rewarded with six minutes on the clock, as a loose pass from Simon Hickey put George Taylor under all sorts of pressure in midfield. Whilst the centre regathered, the Warriors defence forced him to concede a penalty from which Adam Hastings duly kicked his side into the lead.

Indeed the battle of the boot was going Glasgow’s way early on; a couple of imperious takes from Ruaridh Jackson and some canny kicking from Hastings kept the Warriors on the front foot, as Fagerson and company exerted pressure at scrum-time to frustrate the visitors.

Yet it was a tale of two set-pieces in the opening stanza. An overthrown Glasgow lineout ultimately allowed Hickey to level the scores, with the Warriors penalised for going offside as they scrambled back to foil Stuart McInally.

The game’s first clear-cut try-scoring opportunity arrived on 27 minutes, as Darcy Graham sparked into life on the Edinburgh wing. Standing up Kyle Steyn, the winger’s chip over Jackson saw him collide with the Glasgow full-back, with the match officials ruling Jackson’s actions merited a yellow card.

Whilst Hickey’s initial penalty attempt struck the post, the New Zealander was on target just moments later. With Edinburgh getting the bounce of the ball, a second offside call from referee Ben Blain allowed Hickey to nudge the capital outfit in front for the first time in the match.

Not to be deterred, however, Hastings duly restored parity on 34 minutes. Once more it was from the scrum that the opportunity arose, with the Glasgow fly-half slotting the penalty down the middle from 40 metres.

With the return of Jackson restoring the hosts to full strength, it was the Warriors that finished the half the stronger. A Sam Johnson charge and a Scott Cummings line break took Glasgow into the Edinburgh danger zone, forcing Bill Mata to illegally slow the play and receive a yellow card for his troubles.

Determined to make the most of their numerical advantage, the home side came out of the traps running at the start of the second period. A big hit from Tommy Seymour on Duhan van der Merwe set the tone, before half-breaks from Johnson and Cummings had the Warrior Nation urging their side on.

Whilst the visitors survived Mata’s spell on the side-lines, they were immediately down a man once more – a shoulder to the head from Stuart McInally on Fraser Brown saw the Edinburgh captain receive a yellow card from referee Blain, and the Warriors’ advantage renewed.

Yet it was the men from the capital that were first to score in the second period, as Hickey sent his third successful kick of the night over the crossbar from 40 metres following the sin-binning of Turner.

In a game of small margins, every chance was met with a rise in volume from the Scotstoun crowd. Darcy Graham’s electric sidestepping had the Glasgow defence – and supporters – on edge, before Seymour’s chip and chase saw the ball just refuse to bounce into the Glasgow winger’s hands for the opening score.

A try was coming however, and it was one more than worth the wait. With seemingly nothing on, Huw Jones brilliantly regathered a Hastings chip into space and accelerated clear. Despite a screaming Niko Matawalu on the outside, the centre cut back inside and found Ali Price on his shoulder to send the scrum-half scampering under the posts and the Warrior Nation into delirium.

Having seen Hastings add the extra two for a 13-9 Glasgow lead, Edinburgh knew that a try was required to have any chance of victory. Richard Cockerill’s men duly delivered as the game entered the final ten minutes, as Blair Kinghorn finished well under pressure to edge his side in front. Jaco van der Walt’s conversion made the score all the more valuable, and gave the visitors a 16-13 advantage heading into the closing stages.

Yet with the clock ticking down, the Glasgow pack went to work. Having seen Nic Groom become the fifth recipient of a yellow card for cynically denying Price a quick-tap penalty opportunity, the ball was kicked to the corner by Hastings. The result was straight from a textbook; Turner’s thrown found the ever-reliable Jonny Gray, before a perfectly executed maul saw Turner driven over for the all-important score. Scotstoun erupted, as Hastings kicked the conversion to nudge his side further in front.

The final turnover was greeted as if the Warriors had scored a third try. With Edinburgh searching for a match-winning breakthrough, the crucial intervention came from man-of-the-match Fagerson. The tighthead latched on to the ball at the breakdown and refused to be shifted. Penalty to Glasgow. Victory for Glasgow. First blood to Glasgow.

live commentary 5:45 PM Saturday 21 Dec 2019

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Kick-off 5:45 PM

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