Glasgow Warriors drew first blood in the 2021/22 1872 Cup series, running in three tries to claim a 30-17 victory over Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship.
A brace from Thomas Gordon and a piece of counter-attacking excellence from Josh McKay secured the points for the home side, who move clear at the top of the Scottish-Italian Shield and into third place in the overall standings.
Roared on by a sold-out Scotstoun, it was the Warriors who enjoyed the early momentum with ball in hand. A turnover penalty won by Gordon allowed the pack to show their strength early on, driving to within five metres of the line. Duncan Weir was then just inches from the line, snaking through a gap only to knock on as he reached for the line.
Glasgow’s early pressure was stretching the visitors, with Henry Immelman lucky to escape a yellow card for a deliberate knock on with just six minutes on the clock. As it was, though, the home side made the most of their field position, setting up camp in the Edinburgh 22 as they set about searching for a breakthrough.
It would be a breakthrough that would not be long in arriving; after Jack Dempsey was hauled down just short of the line, the Glasgow pack’s patience was eventually rewarded. Good footwork from Gordon saw the flanker manufacture enough space to reach out and dot down, Weir converting for a 7-0 lead.
Almost immediately, though, the visitors were back on level terms. From a five-metre scrum, a penalty saw the capital side enjoy phase after phase of close-range possession, before Glen Young reached out to ground just enough of the ball for the TMO to award the score. Emiliano Boffelli converted, and the game was all square.
An increasingly even game was being played in the middle third of the field, with both sides going in search of the next score. Chris Dean’s chip ahead almost resulted in a score for Henry Pyrgos, only for Weir to cover and turn the ball over superbly on his own five-metre line.
Instead, the next try would come from those in blue and white, and what a score it would be. A miscued kick from Jaco van der Walt found Sebastian Cancelliere in acres of space, and the winger countered with aplomb, putting Stafford McDowall through a gap and into open field. The centre drew his man and found the supporting Gordon on his shoulder, with the flanker dummying the last defender and going over for his second try of the night. The crowd was still applauding as Weir made it the full seven points, and gave Glasgow a 14-7 lead at the half-hour mark.
Boffelli briefly narrowed the gap once more with a penalty, but the final word of the half would be Glasgow’s. A clever kick from Jamie Dobie forced Mesulame Kunavula to turn and regather, before Simon Berghan expertly won the turnover penalty at the ruck. Weir made no mistake from the tee, making it 17-10 at the break.
As much as it was Glasgow who enjoyed a monopoly on possession in the opening 10 minutes, so it was that Edinburgh dominated proceedings immediately after the restart. Their persistence was eventually rewarded, as Boan Venter – on at the interval – capitalised on repeat close-range penalties, driving over for the score which, converted by Boffelli, levelled the scores once more.
Yet Glasgow’s defence regrouped in the face of more Edinburgh pressure, with Gordon again to the fore. A crucial turnover on his own 22 almost sparked a Glasgow counter-attack, whilst Sione Tuipulotu’s introduction saw a couple of physical hits from the centre on visiting attackers.
That defensive pressure proved vital, as the Warriors struck for their third score of the night. A loose ball at the base of a ruck was pounced upon by Sebastian Cancelliere, the Argentinian dancing away from three defenders as he darted from his own 22 up to the Edinburgh 10-metre line. Hearing the call from McKay on the outside, an over-the-shoulder ball sent the full-back haring into the corner for the score to the delight of the East Stand. Ross Thompson, on for Weir, added the extras, before adding a penalty on 65 minutes for a 27-17 lead.
Another Thompson penalty made it a two-score game as the match entered it’s final 10 minutes, as the Warriors chased a four-try bonus-point. It would a pursuit that would ultimately be in vain, but there was to be no doubt about the result. First blood to Glasgow in the 1872 Cup, and vital URC points in the bag as the Warriors return to winning ways.
Kick-off 12:15 pm