Glasgow Warriors 22-10 Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors ensured that Christmas would come early for the Warrior Nation, as a sold-out Scotstoun roared on their team to a 22-10 victory over Edinburgh in the first leg of the 1872 Cup.
Unyielding defence was married to scores from Kyle Rowe, Johnny Matthews and Ally Miller on a dreich evening in Glasgow’s west end, with the Warriors drawing first blood in the festive double-header.
Befitting with tradition, the festive fortnight began in thunderous fashion, as both sides gave no quarter in the early exchanges. It was the Warriors who gained the early advantage with five minutes played, a scrum penalty providing the platform for the rolling maul, which in turn provided George Turner with the chance to charge. When Jamie Ritchie was penalised for going off his feet at the ensuing ruck, Ross Thompson made no mistake from the tee for a 3-0 lead.
Glasgow’s defence was a sight to behold inside the opening quarter, Rory Darge and Jamie Bhatti leading the charge with some thumping early shots on Edinburgh attackers. The Warrior Nation urging their side forward with increasing intensity, the volume inside Scotstoun would reach fever-pitch levels as their side crossed for the opening score of the night. Sione Vailanu’s carry and his team’s determination to keep play alive saw Glasgow motor into the Edinburgh 22, and with advantage in hand the backs would take over. Thompson and Stafford McDowall’s deft handling saw the ball reach Josh McKay, whose pop pass would send Rowe over for the score. Thompson couldn’t quite bring the ball back around enough, but Glasgow led 8-0 after 18 minutes.
As the rain continued to swirl around Scotstoun, the physicality and intensity rose in unison. Time and again the Glasgow defence would get stuck in about their counterparts from the east, Darge and Turner to the fore.
Edinburgh would finally find a way through the Glasgow wall with 34 minutes played, after phase upon phase of possession inside the home side’s 22. The experienced figure of WP Nel was the man to make the final yard, dotting down on the whitewash for a score that – coupled with Ben Healy’s conversion – brought the visitors back to within one point at the interval.
A penalty from Healy in the Glasgow 22 saw Edinburgh take the lead six minutes into the second stanza, but Franco Smith’s team were in no mood to let the capital side extend that lead any further. A barrage of carrying from Siones Vailanu and Tuipulotu led the assault on the Edinburgh try-line, forcing penalty upon penalty to be conceded by the visitors. Grant Gilchrist eventually saw yellow as a result of repeated indiscretions at the lineout, and it took Glasgow 90 seconds to capitalise.
Roared on by the Warrior Nation, the maul went to work. A full team effort, involving 14 players being marshalled by George Horne, saw the maul rumble over the line, the inevitable figure of Matthews arising with the ball for his ninth try of the campaign. Horne added the extras for a 15-10 lead with 15 minutes to play, and Glasgow were in no mood to stop there.
With six minutes remaining, the match was put to bed in scintillating fashion. Making a mockery of the conditions, Horne – now deployed on the wing – and Ben Afshar’s connection saw the duo slice open the Edinburgh defence, the pack following up with a series of short-range carries. Tom Jordan and McKay then took centre stage, spinning the ball wide with inch-perfect precision to find Millar in the wide channels, and for the second week in succession the back-rower would race over the line to send the Warrior Nation into delirium. Horne’s conversion made it 22-10, and the hosts were hunting a bonus-point.
Whilst that fourth score would ultimately elude Smith’s squad, the result was nevertheless roared home by a sold-out Scotstoun, referee Sam Grove-White’s whistle confirming the result for the Warriors. A 12-point lead heading into next weekend’s second leg at Scottish Gas Murrayfield, and a win that keeps Glasgow Warriors at the top of the BKT URC standings.