RaboDirect Pro12: Glasgow go second after 1872 Cup win
RaboDirect Pro12: Glasgow Warriors move up to second after 37-34 victory over Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors retained the 1872 Cup and moved up to second in the RaboDirect Pro12 in a thrilling 37-34 win over Edinburgh in the Scottish derby.
Gregor Townsend’s side secured just their second try bonus point of the season in front of a record crowd as they ran in five tries before a late Edinburgh comeback made the scoreline much closer than it should have been.
It was the fifth time in a row the Warriors have won the 1872 Cup, but the ambitious club have their sights on much bigger silverware with the Pro12 title still within their reach.
The five-point haul from their final game in hand puts the Warriors in pole position to secure a home semi-final for the first time with two rounds of the regular season remaining: a trip to Treviso next weekend before a home tie against bottom side Zebre.
Their Irish rivals have a trickier run-in with Munster travelling to Edinburgh next weekend before hosting Ulster, and the Belfast side hosting league leaders Leinster at a revamped Ravenhill next weekend.
The Warriors opened the scoring after just four minutes when the Pro12’s leading marksman Finn Russell slotted over a penalty.
Edinburgh struggled to get out of their half and Glasgow’s first try quickly arrived as Mark Bennett sent full-back Peter Murchie away to crash over in the right corner.
Russell missed the conversion, but added a second penalty four minutes later to make it 11-0 after more Edinburgh indiscipline.
Alan Solomons’ side briefly rallied as captain Greig Laidlaw—back for the first of three farewell matches before he moves to Gloucester—broke through the Warriors defence and chipped ahead.
Scotland centre Matt Scott collected and offloaded to tighthead prop WP Nel, who burst through half-hearted tackles in the left corner. Laidlaw added the tricky conversion with the wind in his face to bring his side into the match.
Russell then missed an easy penalty before Edinburgh looked to have taken the lead as Andries Strauss burst down the right wing towards the Warriors tryline and went over in the corner.
But replays showed a last-gasp tackle from Bennett had forced the Edinburgh centre’s foot into touch and it was ruled out, only for referee Mathieu Raynal to go back for an offside penalty and Laidlaw duly converted to make it 11-10.
The Warriors stepped up their effort in the final quarter and London Wasps-bound outside-half Ruaridh Jackson went over in the left corner, with Russell again missing the conversion, but Edinburgh’s task was made harder with Izak van der Westhuizen sin-binned for a high challenge in the build-up.
Laidlaw hit back with another penalty, but the Warriors weren’t done in the first half and Jackson found Bennett on an angle for the centre to keep up his impressive try-scoring run.
Russell made no mistake with the conversion as the Warriors went in 23-14 at the break.
With all thoughts firmly on securing a much-needed bonus point which would aid their effort to finish above Munster, the Warriors were given an early advantage in the second half when Edinburgh’s Mike Coman was binned after repeated team infringements.
The Warriors pressed and Chris Fusaro was unlucky not to have stretched the lead after he went over as the home side were penalised for obstruction, but the score was inevitable and Murchie was the hero as he went over for an easy second, stretching the lead to 30-13 when Russell added the conversion.
Despite the scoreline, Edinburgh weren’t completely out of it and Scott found his way over; Laidlaw maintaining his conversion accuracy.
Gregor Townsend’s glut of changes in the second half appeared to upset the defensive rhythm, but the Warriors were still on top and Moray Low thought he had scored only for a forward pass to chalk it off.
But a fifth try for the hosts duly arrived as Murchie’s impressive performance continued as he got the Warriors moving forward, offloaded replacement centre Richie Vernon, who fed flanker Rob Harley Glasgow; Russell converting to make the score 37-20.
The drama didn’t end there as Edinburgh sparked to life. A break down the left from Scotland wing Tim Visser almost resulted in a try, but the Warriors scramble defence just did enough to keep him short, but Edinburgh recycled and the forwards took over.
Wicus Blaauw had a go before replacement flanker Tomas Leonardi burrowed under a pile of bodies, Laidlaw adamant it was a try.
Much confusion ensued as Mayal went to the TMO to check two efforts at the line, with communication an issue, the officials eventually confirmed Visser was short, but Leonardi’s effort was good for his first Edinburgh try, despite the stadium announcer giving it to Visser.
Laidlaw added the extras and from the restart Edinburgh stole possession and came back at the Warriors again, with Visser this time running in unchallenged to secure two bonus points for Edinburgh.
Laidlaw again added the extras to make it a very respectable scoreline for the visitors.
Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett (Richie Vernon, 72) Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour; Ruaridh Jackson (Duncan Weir, 77), Chris Cusiter (Niko Matawalu, 61); Ryan Grant (Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 77), Dougie Hall (Pat MacArthur, 50), Jon Welsh (Moray Low, 61), Jonny Gray, Al Kellock (captain) (Leone Nakawara, 61), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro (Ryan Wilson, 61), Josh Strauss.
Tries: Murchie (2), Bennett, Jackson, Harley
Cons: Russell (3)
Pens: Russell (2)
Edinburgh: Jack Cuthbert; Tom Brown, Matt Scott, Andries Strauss (Sam Beard, 51), Tim Visser; Carl Bezuidenhout, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Al Dickinson (Wicus Blaauw, 77), Ross Ford (James Hilterbrand, 77), WP Nel (Simon Berghan, 61), Grant Gilchrist, Izak van der Westhuizen (Tomas Leonardi, 51), Mike Coman (Ben Toolis, 77), Cornell du Preez, Dave Denton.
Replacements not used: Grayson Hart, Piers Francis,
Tries: Nel, Brown, Leonardi, Visser
Cons: Laidlaw (4)
Pens: Laidlaw (3)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
Man of the match: Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors)