Edinburgh secure derby day bonus-point win
Saturday afternoon brought with it a late Christmas present for Edinburgh Rugby, and a fitting final match of the decade, as they triumphed over rivals Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield in an action-packed 1872 Cup derby
In an enthralling contest, the capital side eventually secured a bonus-point win as Darcy Graham ran in a 79th minute try to add shine to a hard-earned victory.
The leads swapped hands on several occasions as both sides refused to throw caution to the wind with their attacking philosophies. Graham openeed the scoring following an outrageous offload from Bill Mata before Glasgow levelled proceedings before half-time thanks to Huw Jones' simple score.
The visitors took the lead in the second-half when Scott Cummings powered over, however, the capital soon regained the upper hand as a quick dart and score from Henry Pyrgos was followed by a penalty try.
And Graham send the BT Murrayfield faithful wild as he sprinted in from 50 metres out to seal the derby day victory, making it 1-1 in the series.
The first five minutes gave a real insight into what the game would offer as a whole, with a lot of fast exchanges, hard-hitting tackles and a real air of intensity around both sides. Glasgow missed a chance to put the first points on the board after an awry penalty kick for posts, but followed it up with a series of piercing attacks into the final third.
The Edinburgh defence was holding as strong as it had in any other game this season though, as the visitors were enjoying a long period of possession.
Finally though, an opportunity for Edinburgh arose, in the figure of Duhan van der Merwe, who escaped the clutches of a Glasgow tackle to tear his way up the pitch. The South African punctured deep into the opposing half before he was brought down, albeit after a pass out wide, which found its way to Bill Mata.
An outstanding offload from Mata’s right hand left the young winger with acres in front of him, and he crossed the whitewash for the first try of the match, as Simon Hickey added the conversion it was 7-0.
Glasgow responded with a convincing push into Edinburgh territory. A series of movements found the visitors within metres of the try-line, and as they sent the ball out wide, Edinburgh were left a man short in a 2-on-1 situation. Huw Jones was the one to step his way past the last man and touch down, with Adam Hastings adding the extras. [7-7]
All was quiet on both fronts for the final 15 minutes of the half though, with both Edinburgh and their west coast opponents failing to gain any ground past each other’s ’22s. Defensive lines held and attacks failed to come to anything as the half-time whistle blew on an equal score-line of 7-7.
This game of push-and-pull continued into the first ten minutes of the second half, with both teams contributing impressive rugby, but equal part mistakes that halted any real progression. Edinburgh drew first blood of the half though in the 48th minute after Simon Hickey slotted the penalty kick to break the deadlock. [10-7]
Glasgow responded in minutes, carrying well as they caught the Edinburgh line unaware, pushing to within inches of the try-line. After a controversial denial of an Edinburgh penalty though, the visitors set up for a line-out. This led to a series of barrelling passes along the line, which found the oncoming Scott Cummings, who stampeded over the line to crash down for Glasgow’s second try of the match. Adam Hastings added to his points tally with the conversion. [10-14]
The game looked to be starting to falter, until Matt Scott added a burst of energy. The game came alive again, as the Scottish internationalist broke free from loose-armed tackles and raced his way towards the try-line. The Glasgow defence was right behind him, and he skidded his way to the line after he was brought down by multiple hands. It looked like he had made it, with Jaco van der Walt adding his support of a hand to the ball amongst the rabble of bodies on the line.
After much deliberation though, referee Mike Adamson concluded there was no try, and instead an Edinburgh scrum followed. The forwards pushed well, and Mata burst free from the back. The Fijian was stopped short of the line, but replacement Henry Pyrgos chipped in with a pick-and-go. He left the defence looking around in confusion as he darted over the try-line for Edinburgh’s second try. Simon Hickey kept his record clean, as he added the extra two points. [17-14]
Glasgow were hungry for the win though, and were willing to fight for it. They bit back after a tense phase of play right on Edinburgh’s doorstep, when George Horne added Glasgow’s third try, edging them ahead by a mere two points. [17-19]
This time it was Edinburgh’s turn to respond, as the home side fought to the opposing try-line with a newfound sense of urgency. The forwards were instrumental in what followed, as they drove the Glasgow pack backwards from a line-out and forced a penalty try. The capital side were back in front, with only 10 minutes to go. [24-17]
There was one last word from Edinburgh in this match though, and it was added by Darcy Graham. The winger found himself out wide in the 79th minute, with an entire half of the field between him and the extra five points. This was only a minor obstacle for the youngster though, who took off, racing his way down the line. There wasn’t a player on the pitch who could keep up with the Hawick native as he thundered over for the final points of the match, a bonus-point try, and a fitting end to a gruelling contest between the two sides, with the score settling on 29-19 as the final whistle went.