Glasgow Warriors blended clinical attack with resolute defence at Scotstoun this evening, overcoming Edinburgh 29-19 in a titanic 1872 Cup decider.
Four tries and the boot of Ross Thompson ultimately ensured that it would be the Warriors lifting the silverware at the end of a classic cross-country derby.
The tone for a ferocious night of rugby was set right from the opening whistle, with both sides giving no quarter in the opening exchanges. Despite spending most of the opening 10 minutes defending resolutely own their own 22, it would be the Warriors who would be first to trouble the scorers as Thompson made no mistake with a penalty from 35 metres.
Straight from the restart, Glasgow went on the offensive. A textbook chase from Kyle Steyn and Thomas Gordon forced Bill Mata to concede a penalty on halfway, from which Thompson produced the perfect touch-finder to give his team a five-metre lineout. Whilst the initial maul was repelled by the visitors, there was no stopping Cole Forbes as the full-back cut an inch-perfect line to collect Ali Price’s ball and dive over untouched. Thompson converted, and the hosts had a 10-0 lead.
Edinburgh recovered well from the double-blow, crossing for their first score with 19 minutes on the clock. After referee Adam Jones reversed a penalty decision to give the visitors possession, the capital outfit went to work from close-range. In the end, it was Dave Cherry who was driven over from the maul, Nathan Chamberlain converting impressively from the touchline.
Yet the Warriors wasted no time in striking straight back. From the restart, an inspired chase and hit from Steyn on Damien Hoyland saw the Warriors win the turnover, with Ali Price keeping the tempo high. After Nick Grigg’s carry had taken him to within five metres, Fotu Lokotui was the man to barge his way over for his second try in as many home matches, Thompson adding the extras for a 10-point lead.
The match was being played at breakneck speed, with some thunderous hits from the Glasgow defence audible on a perfect night for rugby. Lokotui and Oli Kebble were to the fore, the latter crunching Chamberlain in midfield.
However, when Rob Harley was sent to the sin-bin following repeated lineout infringements, it didn’t take long for Edinburgh to take full advantage. A scrappy end to a maul saw the try eventually credited to Cherry once more, Chamberlain converting to narrow the deficit once more.
The drama was just beginning in the closing stages of the first half, though. It began on 33 minutes, when a high shot by Mark Bennett on Ali Price was referred to the TMO through a Captain’s Challenge by the Warriors. Upon review the Edinburgh centre was shown a red card, with Thompson only inches away from converting the penalty from 40 metres.
It became 14 against 14 with just two minutes left in the half, with the second red card similarly coming as a result of a Captain’s Challenge. This time it was Kebble who was shown to the stands by referee Jones, following an altercation with Henry Pyrgos off the ball.
Yet undeterred, Glasgow finished the half on the front foot and struck for their third score on the stroke of half-time. After determined carrying from Stafford McDowall and Gordon, Fraser Brown was the man to pile over under the posts to the delight of his team-mates, Thompson converting after an unsuccessful Captain’s Challenge for a 24-14 lead at the break.
The Warriors started the second stanza as they had finished the first, firing into their opponents from the off. A clever kick in behind from Forbes on 48 minutes forced Eroni Sau to concede a five-metre scrum, allowing the Glasgow power game to go to work. When the gap eventually appeared, Price’s looping pass found the inspired Steyn in acres of space for a walk-in out wide, marking his first appearance at Scotstoun in 15 months with the bonus-point try.
Having been restored to 15 players under the new 20-minute red-card replacement rule, Edinburgh responded with a try of their own five minutes later. Just moments after coming off the bench, it was Stuart McInally on his return from long-term injury who would peel off a maul to dive over, Chamberlain’s conversion sailing wide to leave the score at 29-19.
As the half wore on, game management was becoming increasingly key. Price kept the Edinburgh defence honest with a couple of sniping breaks around the ruck in addition to some canny tactical kicking, whilst the Warriors continued to stand tall in the face of pressure.
Edinburgh were now throwing everything at their hosts, with Richie Gray receiving a yellow card with eight minutes to play for collapsing the maul. Yet still Glasgow resolutely stood their ground, Tom Lambert’s hit on Mesu Kunavula highlighting the attitude of the home side’s defence before a Forbes intercept cut out another Edinburgh attack.
Closer yet came the visitors, with only superb scramble defence from Tagive and George Turner denying McInally a second score. That only served to strengthen the home side’s resolve; across the park, the Warriors defended their home to the end, the game-winning turnover roared to the rafters by the Glasgow replacements.
For the first time since 2017, the 1872 Cup is staying in Glasgow.
Kick-off 5:30 pm