Glasgow Warriors 16-10 Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors produced a confident display in front of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun to draw first blood in the 2022/23 1872 Cup, grinding out a 16-10 victory over Edinburgh in round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.
Jack Dempsey’s try and the kicking of George Horne and Tom Jordan proved decisive, as Franco Smith’s men earned a deserved victory in front of the Warrior Nation.
Against the backdrop of a fever-pitch atmosphere at a sold-out Scotstoun, both sides made their intentions clear from the start. A scrum penalty gave Emiliano Boffelli a first chance of points from 40 metres, only for the Argentinian to push his kick wide of the upright with five minutes played.
Two minutes later, it was the Warriors’ turn to go close. A lineout steal inside the Edinburgh 22 saw the Glasgow pack burst into life, with Sione Vailanu barrelling over the line for what he thought was the opening score. Referee Ben Blain would intervene, however, penalising the Tongan for a double movement and chalking off the score.
Back would come the visitors again, and when the home side were penalised for not rolling away at the ruck Boffelli would step up once more to have a shot at goal. For the second time inside the opening quarter, though, the kick would miss it’s target, striking the upright and bouncing clear.
When the momentum shifted towards the Warriors once more, though, it would be a decisive swing. Establishing themselves inside Edinburgh territory, Smith’s side would set about exerting pressure upon pressure on their visitors from the east, earning repeat penalties from referee Blain.
It was from the third of these penalties that the breakthrough would finally arrive. Whilst a close-range maul would be stopped short, there would be no stopping Dempsey as the number eight thundered his way through two tackles to score, dragging Charlie Savala over the whitewash with him. Horne added the extras in front of the West Stand, and the Warriors led 7-0 after half an hour.
Back would come Edinburgh once more, as Viliame Mata and Duhan van der Merwe led the charge for the capital side. Glasgow’s defence was ferocious in reply, however; Dempsey and Stafford McDowall were amongst those to give no quarter, before a superb turnover from Matt Fagerson brought the Scotstoun roar to full volume.
Instead, it would be Glasgow who finished the half on the front foot. Once more the pressure proved too much for the visitors when pinned in their own 22, Horne punishing their indiscipline with the last play of the half by converting a penalty for a 10-0 lead at the interval.
Knowing that they needed to score next to establish a foothold in the game, Edinburgh came out of the changing rooms firing. Good interplay saw Boffelli break the line on 44 minutes, with only an excellent cover tackle from Josh McKay denying the Argentinian.
McKay wasn’t alone in his defensive efforts, however. In the face of their opposition, the Glasgow defensive shift was resolute. McDowall and Fagerson were to the fore with a couple of expertly timed turnovers, whilst Richie Gray was proving himself a nuisance both in the tight and the loose.
Eventually, Edinburgh’s persistence would pay off. Whilst a lineout maul inside the 22 would be broken up, Connor Boyle would be smuggled over the whitewash for the score. Boffelli’s conversion would make it a three-point game, as the atmosphere rose another notch.
Glasgow’s response was swift, and it would be one packed with power. A barnstorming charge from Vailanu would take Glasgow from halfway to the Edinburgh 22, before McKay was stopped just short. A knock-on at the ruck would initially deny the Warriors, but the pack’s united shove saw the Warriors win a penalty from the resulting scrum that Jordan dispatched for a 13-7 lead with 67 minutes on the clock.
Edinburgh were now chasing the game at every opportunity, but once more Glasgow’s defence was resolute. A thumping hit from JP du Preez on Ben Muncaster brought the Scotstoun crowd to its feet and a penalty from the referee, with Jordan making a mockery of the tricky angle to extend the lead to 16-7.
The visitors would bring themselves back within bonus-point range with a Jaco van der Walt penalty two minutes from time, but that would be as close as they would get. A determined tackle from Sebastian Cancelliere on countryman Boffelli would see the Edinburgh man ushered into touch, sparking roars of delight from the Warrior Nation.
Part one of the 1872 Cup job is done; attentions now turn to finishing the effort at BT Murrayfield in seven days’ time.