Glasgow Warriors 23-22 Edinburgh

Glasgow Warriors earned a dramatic 1872 Cup victory at Scotstoun tonight, as Danny Wilson’s side claimed a 23-22 win over Edinburgh.

A player-of-the-match-winning performance from Ross Thompson on his first professional start, coupled with tries from Matt Fagerson and George Turner, meant that the home side emerged victorious from a titanic tussle under the Saturday night lights.

The home side came flying out of the traps as the opening whistle sounded, as Wilson’s men started brightly in their first home match of 2021. Their early pressure was rewarded with the first points of the night after just three minutes, Thompson producing a flawless strike with a penalty from 35 metres to punish Chris Dean for transgressing.

It wasn’t just with the boot that the fly-half caught the eye early on, earning a roar of approval from the sidelines with a perfect chop tackle on Bill Mata. The Glasgow pack were introducing themselves to their opposite numbers to boot, their physicality allowing Ali Price and Thompson to dictate the pace and tempo.

The early dominance was turned into points on 12 minutes, as Aki Seiuli earned a scrum penalty from which Thompson made no mistake. The six-point lead lasted a mere 90 seconds, however, Jaco van der Walt getting the capital side on the board with a penalty on Glasgow’s 22.

That kick provided Edinburgh with a foothold in the match, as the two defences began to take centre stage. An Edinburgh attack looked destined for the corner until a great cover tackle from debutant Rufus McLean denied Jamie Farndale, before Turner’s turnover allowed Thompson to clear.

Glasgow’s second-row partnership were also picking up where they left off a fortnight ago, with Richie Gray and Scott Cummings each charging down Nic Groom as he attempted to box-kick clear.

Yet the flow of the match turned Edinburgh’s way on 33 minutes, as Turner was shown a yellow card for a late hit on Grant Gilchrist. In his absence, the capital side struck; with McLean having to give way to allow Johnny Matthews to come on for a full front-row, the numerical advantage saw Farndale capitalise on three-on-two to cross in the corner. The conversion from van der Walt gave Edinburgh a 10-6 lead, the first time they’d been in front in the match.

The first-half scoring wasn’t over yet, though, as one of the more bizarre moments of the season came with just a minute to play. A passing train’s horn confused Groom into thinking the half was over, kicking to touch under no pressure inside his own 22. A penalty from the ensuing lineout allowed Thompson to make it three from three from the tee, and narrow the deficit to a single point at the interval.

As with the first period, it was the Warriors who made the brighter start to the second stanza. A high tackle on Robbie Fergusson saw Thompson set up Glasgow’s platform inside the Edinburgh 22, and from there the pack went to work. Phase after phase later, it was left to Fagerson to power over from five metres, smashing through the tackle of Dave Cherry to touch down. Thompson converted, and the hosts led 16-10.

The Warriors were looking to play with ball in hand, with both Thompson and McLean fitting in seamlessly to professional rugby. Great pressure from the latter saw Glasgow earn a scrum on the Edinburgh ten-metre line, and from there Danny Wilson’s men turned it on. A scything break from Huw Jones was only stopped short of the line due to a professional foul from van der Walt, referee Mike Adamson reducing the visitors to 14 men for good measure.

Not to be outdone by their cross-country rivals, Glasgow made their numerical advantage count almost immediately. Thompson’s kick to the corner saw Turner find Richie Gray at the lineout, before tucking himself away at the back of the maul and rumbling over for the score. Again Thompson added the extras, giving the home side a 23-10 lead.

Yet Edinburgh weren’t about to lie down, and struck back with a try of their own just moments later. Good interplay from Cherry and Hamish Watson off a lineout saw the pair race into the Glasgow 22, and Chris Dean was on hand to take the scoring pass to touch down. Mark Bennett added the conversion with van der Walt still in the sin-bin, narrowing the gap to just six points.

The game was opening up as it entered the final quarter, as both sides looked to find a chink in the opposing defence’s armour. The introduction of Leone Nakarawa added another dimension to the Glasgow attack, whilst fellow Fijian Mata provided Edinburgh’s main threat as the visitors pressed.

With five minutes to go, the tide seemed to turn to the visitors once more. A break from Bennett was halted illegally by Huw Jones, the Glasgow full-back shown a yellow card to compound matters for the Warriors.

Whilst the Glasgow defence held firm in the face of the Edinburgh pack’s onslaught, there would be no denying the visitors a final score. Eroni Sau’s pace and power saw him evade the despairing tackle of debutant Ollie Smith, touching down in the corner to set up an all-or-nothing conversion attempt for van der Walt.

Yet this time fortune favoured the Warriors, the kick drifting wide to ensure that the 1872 Cup would require a decider as the at-home Warrior Nation celebrated a well-deserved victory.

live commentary 5:15 PM Saturday 16 Jan 2021

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Kick-off 5:15 PM

Glasgow Warriors

Edinburgh

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