Glasgow Warriors marked Rob Harley’s 250th appearance in the best possible fashion, earning a barnstorming 31-24 victory over Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield.
A try from Player of the Match George Turner was one of four for Danny Wilson’s men on a memorable night in the capital, as the Warriors completed a Rainbow Cup double over their cross-country rivals.
Having expected a response from their hosts a week after relieving them of the 1872 Cup, the Warriors were hit by their hosts straight from the kick-off. Early Edinburgh pressure in Glasgow territory eventually resulted in the first try of the evening, as Bill Mata’s half-break and offload saw Chris Dean scamper under the posts for the score. Blair Kinghorn converted, giving the home side an early 7-0 lead.
Shaking off the early setback, Wilson’s side set about establishing a foothold in proceedings, building phases inside the Edinburgh 22. Their efforts yielded successive penalties, the second of which Ross Thompson slotted from 10 metres in front of the posts to cut the gap to four points.
Whilst Kinghorn cancelled out the penalty with a kick of his own on 16 minutes, the momentum was firmly with the Warriors. On 20 minutes, momentum was converted into points; superb work from Ratu Tagive saw the winger hound the Edinburgh defence into coughing up possession, before the pack took up the mantle inside the Edinburgh 22. Matt Fagerson was eventually the man to apply the finishing touch, taking the aerial route to sneak over the top of a ruck to dot down. Thompson added the extras and the score was level at 10-10.
Straight from the restart, the visitors cut loose. A superb take from Steyn saw the winger fly over two chasing opponents, before a quick tap penalty from George Horne saw the scrum-half race fully 60 metres up to the Edinburgh 22. Only an illegal pull-back by Pierre Schoeman prevented Nick Grigg from collecting the ball and crossing the whitewash, with the Edinburgh loose-head duly dispatched to the sin-bin by referee Andrew Brace.
Glasgow made their numerical advantage count immediately. George Turner’s tap and go from five metres out saw the hooker have too much power and presence of mind for the capital side, Thompson’s conversion giving the visitors a 17-10 lead.
There was almost a second try in as many minutes for the Warriors, as Steyn continued to dominate the restarts. This time, the winger somehow found a gap to accelerate away, going from 22 to 22 and beating multiple Edinburgh defenders. The home side’s scramble defence found a way to nullify the attack, though, turning the ball over to snuff out the chance.
Instead, it would be Edinburgh who would be the next to trouble the scorers in an end-to-end opening 40 minutes. A brutally physical passage of play eventually culminated in Mike Willemse just about doing enough to get the ball down, despite Richie Gray doing everything humanly possible to prevent the grounding. A forensic look from referee Brace confirmed the try, Kinghorn converting to tie the scores.
The Warriors weren’t done for the half yet, though. The Warrior Nation might have thought the chance to lead at the interval had gone after Grigg was a fingertip away from gathering an offload from Hastings, but a scrum penalty won by Tom Lambert gave the visitors a final platform. After hard yards from Ryan Wilson and Turner had taken the Warriors to within five metres, it was left to the unlikeliest of crash ball options in the form of Hastings to birl over the line for the score. Thompson’s kick was on target, and the Warriors led 24-17 at the break.
Glasgow were in no mood to let their opponents back into the match, and came agonisingly close to a bonus-point score just four minutes into the second half. A brilliant rip in midfield saw Fagerson free Turner, with the hooker bursting into the 22. Grigg and Wilson’s interplay sent Lambert barrelling towards the line, only for a knock-on at the ruck to end the visitors’ hopes.
The Warriors came closer still on 48 minutes, as only a TMO decision prevented Rory Darge from crashing over against his former side. Yet the bonus-point score wouldn’t be long in arriving, as the visitors displayed their power game once more. After phase upon phase on the Edinburgh five-metre line, Horne spotted the gap to dive under the challenge of Mata to touch down. A sublime conversion from Thompson made it 31-17, and the Warriors were motoring.
Not content with scoring tries, Horne then turned try-saver on 56 minutes with an inspired piece of play. Mata’s pick-up of a loose ball on his own 22 saw the Fijian race clear, only for Tagive to scramble back to bring him down. With a try begging for Edinburgh, Horne’s perfectly-timed sack of Charlie Shiel saw the ball turned over and Glasgow’s defence held firm.
Edinburgh weren’t going to go down without a fight, however, getting themselves back within a converted score with 11 minutes to play. Kinghorn was the catalyst, finding a gap and accelerating through before feeding Shiel on his inside for a run-in. The conversion cut the gap to 31-24, setting up a finely-balanced finale.
Yet there would be no let-up from the Glasgow defence, with the physicality evident from each and every Warrior. Back-to-back bonus-point victories over the oldest rivals, and a fitting way to mark a memorable night for the club.
Kick-off 8:00 pm