Five things we learned: Derby day winners
It was a triumphant return to rugby for Edinburgh as they came away as derby day winners over Glasgow Warriors and in the process secured a place in the Guinness PRO14 Semi-Finals and retained the 1872 Cup.
In an action-packed 80 minutes of rugby, there was a lot to take away from the full-time 15-30 scoreline. From the inspiring individual performances, to the second-half comeback, here are five things we learned from the 1872 Cup victory - writes Ryan Nixon.
1. No cobwebs on show
Despite having been just under six months since Edinburgh last played a competitive rugby match, supporters could be forgiven for not realising this during yesterday's 80 minute spectacle.
The quality of the brand of rugby displayed was indistinguishable from what was on show prior to lockdown. Although it did take a while for the capital side to really kick into gear; when they did, they were unplayable, displaying real confidence and comfort on the ball.
A tight-knitted approach in both offence and defence in the first-half meant it was tough for Glasgow to gain any sort of turnovers or win consistent rucks, whilst a countering, free-flowing sort of rugby in the second-half allowed for more creativity, and gave Edinburgh the chance to dictate the pace of play.
2. Jaco was a perfect 10
The South African was on fire in his first match back, kicking no more than three penalties and three conversions apiece, contributing to half of Edinburgh’s total points haul. Outside of points alone though, van der Walt looked confident in his role, and was pivotal in distributing the ball to his counterpartsthroughout the second half.
Whilst replaced by youngster Nathan Chamberlain just after the 75th minute, Jaco’s influence was felt across the pitch through both morale and performance, which rightfully gained the South African the Guinness Player of the Match.
3. Van the man
Although admittedly Duhan van der Merwe was kept fairly quiet in the first half, when the South African had the ball he was an intimidating presence.
Providing a series of invasive runs into the Glasgow half, the powerful winger was paramount in Edinburgh’s crucial second try of the match, fending off Glasgow defenders with one hand, and carrying the ball in the other, with an unmatchable air of confidence.
Whilst ultimately brought down by George Horne, it wasn’t before Duhan, in an almost basketball-like fashion, looped the ball over to equally-impressive Nic Groom, who ran in the try. There is a reason Duhan has 27 clean breaks this season – nine more than any other player – and the South African looks set to continue his impressive pre-lockdown form.
4. Centre of excellence
Whilst neither were on the scoresheet on the night, the partnership shown by centres Chris Dean and Mark Bennett was quietly reassuring.
Following the departure of Matt Scott in the summer, there were questions raised about who would claim the Scotsman’s jersey, but Dean and his replacement George Taylor both showed brilliance in the No. 12 jersey.
If this performance is any indication of what’s to come, Edinburgh fans can relax, safe in the knowledge that Dean and Bennett compliment each other massively.
Capable of switching up the pace of play with a burst of pace, or an unanticipated pass, the pair pulled the strings in the centre of the field – providing moments of magic through their ball dispersal, defensive capabilities and overall confidence in possession.
5. The Cup stays in the Capital
Whilst this victory sends Edinburgh into the PRO14 Semis, it also leaves the capital side as the holders of the 1872 Cup for the third season in a row.
Although Glasgow looked dangerous in the first-half, and finished the first 40 minutes ahead on the scoreboard, Edinburgh were unmatched in the second-half, and came back to secure a victory by 15 points – thanks in part to the switch in tactics and pace.
This resulted in a second home win over Glasgow this season – with the Warriors without a victory at BTM since Boxing Day 2016 - with bragging rights remaining in Scotland's capital city for third straight season.