Edinburgh 20 Glasgow Warriors 8: Three talking points
Three talking points as a Tim Visser double helps the Gunners stun their Scottish rivals to win the 1872 Cup for the first time since 2009
Flying Dutchman derails Warriors
Tim Visser has been overshadowed this season by a trio of Warriors wings, who were ahead of him in the pecking order for the viagogo Autumn Series, but Edinburgh’s Netherlands-born Scotland international stole the show at BT Murrayfield with a quick brace of tries to add to his impressive scoring record against the Glaswegians. Visser bagged a late double at Scotstoun in April and was on the scoresheet the last time the Gunners defeated the Warriors at Murrayfield in 2011. His ability to pounce on defensive mistakes has proved invaluable for Alan Solomons’ side, with four tries in his last two matches against the Warriors yielding six league points. In form, he is one of the deadliest finishers in the Guinness PRO12 with 56 tries in 80 appearances. He reached double figures and the accolade of the league’s top try-scorer in each of his first four seasons with the Gunners between 2009 and 2013, but he has endured a tough couple of seasons since, scoring just four tries in nine PRO12 appearances last season, a tally he has already equalled in the same number of appearances this season with 10 rounds still to play. Slowly he is beginning to shake off the cobwebs and find some form, although he still drifts out of matches too much, much like Cardiff Blues and Wales wing Alex Cuthbert. Finishing tries isn’t good enough, no matter how good he is at doing that. With Scotland head coach Vern Cotter currently mulling over his squad choices for the Six Nations, which starts in February, Visser should be recalled and, if he can produce strong performances against Connacht next week and Lyon the week after, he’ll have a chance to challenge Tommy Seymour for the 11 jersey, but the Warriors wing remains first choice.
Woeful Warriors need a plan B
There is a post-autumn international slump happening at the Warriors, which could threaten their chances of finishing in the PRO12’s top two this season. They lack the intensity on the road that has brought about all three of their league defeats. The Warriors have rarely looked troubled in defence over the last few seasons in the PRO12, but they were woeful at times on the big Murrayfield pitch, certainly their worst performance of the season. The loss of star flankers Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro who, barring injuries and international call-ups, have been essential to their team’s success has definitely played a part in coming off second best at the breakdown. Gregor Townsend’s side missed their tireless tackling and ability to disrupt and win the battle of the breakdown. They can’t come back soon enough for the Warriors. Even captain Al Kellock, who had a man of the match performance the week before and was imperious in the lineout, looked ordinary second time out as Edinburgh locks Anton Bresler and Ben Toolis had a read on almost every throw from Dougie Hall and Fraser Brown. They were second best all over the park for much of the match, notably at the scrum after winning the early exchanges. Even their potent attack looked one-dimensional, barring a few clever kicks from outside-half Finn Russell (and replacement full-back Stuart Hogg) and some direct running from the back three. A couple of hit ups through the middle and sling it wide only gets you so far, and it certainly didn’t work this time round. Such was their predictability, deadly finisher Visser was ready to intercept Peter Horne’s pass outside almost as soon as it left the Warriors centre’s hands. That runaway try killed the game. Even the back-up plan of letting their flying Fijians run riot, as they did at the start of the second half when Leone Nakarawa replaced Kellock, only worked for a brief spell, before Edinburgh got on top of it. The cracks are widening it won’t be any easier against the Scarlets next week, even with home advantage.
Solomons’ belief starting to show
Edinburgh’s biggest problems in recent seasons have been consistency, injuries and a lack of strength in depth, and creating and finishing off opportunities. Head coach Alan Solomons has come under a fair bit of flak, but has resolutely maintained that they can turn a corner. Their dire injury list is slowly improving: Visser, Phil Burleigh, Hamish Watson, Sam Beard and Dave Denton are all back and have strengthened the squad. Cornell du Preez and Grant Gilchrist may be some time off returning, but the big problem for the Gunners remains being able to perform consistency. Edinburgh never look like rolling over a team, which makes it paramount that they take what they can. There are signs that some of their key players are slowly returning to form. Hooker Ross Ford and loosehead prop Al Dickinson among them as Edinburgh’s set-piece play has improved immeasurably as the season has progressed, and both impressed against the Warriors, although both will be in the Scotland squad for the Six Nations, as will Denton, who bounced back from a torrid afternoon in Glasgow to give Edinburgh a lift at Murrayfield. If they can turn up and win the games they should win, and sneak a couple of wins against the top six as they have this season against Munster and the Warriors, then they could certainly be in the mix to claim sixth place, even if it seems unlikely this season, given the impressive first half of the season from Connacht.