Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh
It was at times a drab stalemate and perhaps lacked a cutting edge, but with both sides giving it their all in the heat of battle, and then some more, there was no doubt it was the 1872 Cup.
As Glasgow held on to tie the series at one a piece, the famous old trophy will have to wait until April’s third and final leg at BT Murrayfield to find out which end of the M8 it will take up residence for at least the next year.
With very little between the two sides, this afternoon’s tight affair, which will perhaps be remembered more for the fire alarm which resulted in the entire stadium being evacuated two minutes shy of half-time, rather than the quality of the game itself, Edinburgh Head Coach Richard Cockerill had no quarrels with the fixture’s end result.
“In the end, Glasgow deserved to win,” admitted Cockerill. “They played well and put us under pressure at the right times. Considering how the evening turned out – with the weather and the long interval – I thought that both sides played good rugby.
“I’ve never had to evacuate a stadium before, but I’m just glad we got the game back underway. It was a step forward for us in many ways. They’re a hard side to play against but I thought we came here, fired some shots and put them under a lot of pressure. It’s not very often Glasgow will be kicking for goal at 9-0, because they’re worried about the result.
“From where we were at the start of the season, we’re beginning to become a tough team to beat – with or without the ball, and we’re beginning to gain some real respectability. The lads worked really hard and I’m proud of the performance, and the fact that we were in the battle the entirety of the match,” added the Head Coach.
I’m obviously disappointed to lose, but we’ll come in on Monday, dust ourselves off and prepare to face the Southern Kings on Friday night. We took a step in the right direction tonight, even though we were on the wrong end of the result. We’ve got a belief and we’ve got a mentality and if we play like that the rest of the season, we’ll win more games than we lose.
With torrential sleet lashing down on Scotstoun prior to kick-off, supporters were in dire need of some full-throttle action to keep them warm – and they weren’t disappointed. Both sides shot out their respective blocks to start the match. Glasgow’s Alex Dunbar would power through a gap in midfield, before Duhan van der Merwe showcased his attacking prowess with a dashing touchline break.
Glasgow would strike first blood as Finn Russell’s simple penalty dissected the uprights, but Edinburgh had an instant reply in the form of this afternoon’s skipper, Stuart McInally. As Grant Gilchrist secured a short lineout, the hooker – who has been in tremendous form for both club and country – took an inside ball from the advancing Sam Hidalgo-Clyne before propelling himself into Glasgow’s twenty-two. It was speed and power personified, and whilst the hooker’s resulting offload was deemed forward, it was an early sign of Edinburgh’s attacking intent.
With both sides going hammer and tong, and competing viciously at nearly every breakdown, clear cut chances were few and far between, whilst slow ball was at a premium.
Then came a moment which will undoubtedly go down in 1872 Cup history. With only three points in the game, and the half drifting to a close, Scotstoun’s fire alarm began to shriek. In a mass cloud of confusion, supporters and players alike were evacuated to the surrounding car parks.
Twenty minutes would pass before gates were once again opened, and just like that the second-half kicked off. Crazy and bizarre, but undoubtedly keeping in the fashion of what had been a peculiar tussle.
As Finn Russell once again chipped over a penalty, Glasgow’s lead was doubled, however, Edinburgh were still in the battle. A near genius piece of skill saw Kinghorn flick an out-the-back-door offload to the supporting Watson, whilst Fijian back-row Bill Mata was ready and willing to carry and tackle in abundance.
The hosts would keep the scoreboard ticking when Russell notched his third penalty of the afternoon, whilst Edinburgh attempted to shift the ball into the wide channels at pace. At times the Edinburgh back line were an inch away from breaching their west coast rivals onrushing defence, but all so often their final pass let them down.
When Russell added his fourth penalty of the match on 71 minutes, the contest was drifting away from Edinburgh at a rate of knots. Richard Cockerill’s side would attempt to play their way out of trouble, even on their own try line, in an attempt to snatch a late losing bonus point – but when Lee Jones dived over in the corner with time running out, the match was all but over. Series tied and April’s showdown at BT Murrayfied can’t come soon enough.