Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


1872 Cup: Part 1

A mildly rejuvenated Edinburgh came to a muddy Murrayfield looking to improve their recent good run and compound Glasgow’s misery. Glasgow meanwhile would have been hoping their dominance in this fixture over the last few years might trump the form book which has them on something of a slide.

It wasn’t as fiery as previous encounters but the first half still saw three yellow cards. One was for persistent infringement, the other two for a mild scuffle between Tom Brown and Stuart Hogg that looked worse than it was when they ended up over the back of the advertising hoardings. Glasgow’s defenders threw themselves into everything tackle-wise which also resulted in cautionary periods on the deck for Seymour and Swinson; Seymour did not recover from his head knock. Glasgow’s aforementioned enthusiasm also led to an early card to Holmes for taking out Laidlaw behind the ruck.

So there were plenty of stoppages, and plenty of penalties in the first period.

Greig Laidlaw had a good start with the boot, getting the scoreboard moving early, and Weir was able to match him from the tee. With Edinburgh playing at the national stadium, it’s not an atmosphere or location either team would be afraid to play in. Indeed with Glasgow providing much of the Scotland team this year and Edinburgh fielding many foreign players not yet naturalised, the visitors may even have been more at home.

To start with though, they weren’t made to feel too welcome as Edinburgh came out and pushed them about.

Edinburgh are starting to look very well drilled as a pack, putting together breakdown dominance for sustained periods and for once doing the pushing off the ruck rather than being shunted themselves. They even managed a couple of forward drives Al Kellock would have been proud of.

As well as that they seem to have clawed back a bit of their flair with Tonks distributing well from 10, one such time setting Cuthbert and Fife loose to combine out wide for the try. In their pomp and with Visser on the park Edinburgh used to score tries like this for fun, a reminder that they can make it look frustratingly easy at times.

Edinburgh came out blasting after half time with the score sitting at 16-9, with Fife again scything down the wing but Denton unable to make his run shortly thereafter count.

With only two backs on the bench, Glasgow already had Jackson on for Seymour on the wing and when Jackson himself went off it was Ryan Wilson’s turn to move out wide. Weir took a penalty back for the visitors  but with the way Edinburgh were attacking there only looked like one winner at that point.

Around the 50-minute mark they were gifted a penalty after some Rob Harley backchat moved it from half way into the Glasgow half. Both Tonks and Cuthbert would probably be able to kick from this range – Cuthbert certainly – and it was odd that Laidlaw took what for him might be considered a gamble, that would have seen Glasgow need two scores to win or a converted try to draw had it paid off.

Edinburgh did not score again.

Chris Cusiter was a stable and assured presence for Glasgow and as captain should take some of the credit for willing his team back into this game. Recently with Matawalu at 9 Glasgow have chased things too much, but here they simply waited like a malevolent tortoise to haul the hare back. Weir kicked a penalty with twenty to play and suddenly there Glasgow were: within a point. Having got them within range, the captain was taken off and his charges left to see if they could bring home the points that had until ten minutes previously looked very unlikely.

Edinburgh came within inches of a second try as Du Preez was held out, and Glasgow defended furiously before breaking out and taking it back to the middle of the park.

Stuart Hogg and the Glasgow backs had been quiet, but when Dunbar slid past Tonks’s outside shoulder off a pass from Josh Strauss and offloaded from the tackle to Van Der Merwe, Hogg flew past all the chasers – most of them in white – to slide on to the Canadian’s chip kick.

In the end that try was all it took to break Edinburgh who can take much from this performance, but sadly in a derby against their fierce rivals it is not the sort of result they will take much heart from. A tough turnaround to go to Scotstoun next week, but it will show us all what sort of team they really are.

FT Edinburgh 16-20 Glasgow Warriors

There will be more on the head to heads after the second leg as they relate to Scotland, but a few notes on Scotland players:

Greig Tonks – suddenly looks a very useful prospect at fly half. Great range of kicks, and not afraid to attack or defend. Was caught out for Hogg’s try though.
Jack Cuthbert – possibly the form fullback in Scotland, of the four possible on the park (Tonks, Maitland, Hogg were the other three).
Ross Ford – just when you write him off he seems to have discover a new lease of life. If he played like this every week he’d be the Scotland first choice on merit rather than a lack of alternatives. Hugely physical performance.
Chris Cusiter – his battle with Laidlaw is possibly the most important as Laidlaw’s presence or lack of it in any Scotland team determines the makeup of the rest of the back division, kicker-wise. If Glasgow had chased this game they would have lost. That they didn’t, and wore their way back in to the contest should be credited in no small part to their captain Cusiter.
Stuart Hogg – a quiet return to play in the centre but his try reminded us that if we want pace in the Scotland backline, he has to slot in somewhere.

Ruaridh Jackson, Duncan Weir – stuck on the wing when Seymour went off, and went off early in the second half. Weir kicked well but threw two nothing passes when the try was on and knocked on a further chance in the in-goal area. They may just have seen Greig Tonks step up next to them in the Scotland standoff race.Whoever tries to tackle Cornell Du Preez – he may be the complete package, but he looks to be wrapped in something very tough indeed.
Edinburgh – there is still not quite the iron will to grind out results that Glasgow seem to have. Well in control and ahead on the scoreboard they should never have lost this match. When they discover that it will put them and Scotland in a good place, as you can’t have only half your team believing.

8 Responses

  1. I thought it was a very entertaining game, loved seeing a bit of passion coming through in the fights. There were actually 5 international fullbacks on the pitch; Cuthbert, Tonks, Maitland, Hogg and Brown have all been capped at fullback although I agree on Cuthbert being on form

  2. I’m pretty sure Jackson slotted in at 12, with Dunbar shifting out to 13, Maitland to 14 and Hogg to 15.

    Honestly, are we really saying Tonks is ahead of Jackson and Weir for the 10 shirt? Really? Frankly I’m still at the stage where I’m surprised he can even play at stand-off for his club, let alone being comfortable with him going toe-to-toe with Trinh Duc or Farrell. Let’s just give Tonks a chance to consolidate his position for Edinburgh before we start suggesting the totally ridiculous.

    Oh, yes. Cuthbert is the form fullback in Scotland? What ever it is you’re smoking, it must make a pretty penny in Charlotte Square!

  3. Ian, are you basing your comments on this match alone or all of the matches Tonks and Cuthbert have played for Edinbugh at 10 and 15 respectively?

    In the matches against Gloucester (at Kingsholm) and Leinster, both players were excellent. Cuthbert caught every ball kicked his way and attacked well (that try against Glasgow was the second time he and Fyfe linked up for a try). He made 3 errors in Saturday’s game – most glaring dropping the pass as the try line approached. That has little to do with FB. Maitland has made some glaring mistakes too! Tonks who hasn’t had that much time at FH has made so much more progress than Jackson and Weir ever have. Jackson has gone as far as he will which is beklow internationalk standard. Tonks IS better than him. Weir is better than Jackson and made more mistakes on Saturday than Tonks (some shocking passing for a FH while Tonks’ passing is very good off both hands). The Glasgow try coming off Tonks having the ball ripped off him isn’t exactly his fault. There were 14 other players besides him!

    So, actually, YOUR dismissal of both is what is ridiculous. Cuthbert is up against Maitland and Hogg, which is what may well count against him – I’d have both M & H in the mix for the national team. If Tonks keeps progressing at the rate he is, there will be no argument against him ousting the joke that is Jackson and the frequent disappointment that is Weir.

    1. To me, Cuthbert looks like a very usefull Rabo League fuillback who has excelled in the heavy ground that has been encountered over the past few weeks.

      Very safe under the high ball, has a good offloading game, but lacks the pace and footwork of both Hogg and Maitland. A decent place kicking option if Laidlaw loses out to a.n. other but a wee bit aimless out of the hand (although the heavy ground may have something to do with this perception).

      Tonks has impresssed me in his recent No.10 appearances, but Edinburgh signing up another 10 till the end of the season possibly doesnt bode well for this being long term. Tonks may actually lose out here as his best chance of 6N time may well have been at 15 (PF decision pending!). His move to 10 and Cuthberts form at 15 may well result in neither of them getting 6N time.

      On Weir/Jackson debate, Townsend needs to pick one of them and start him 5 or 6 games in a row, possibly without the other one on the bench. This constant chopping and changing gives neither a chance of establishing themselves in the Scotland shirt.

      Similar for the back row. Fusaro/Strauss/Wilson is a back row I’d pay to go and watch week in week out.

      PS..If I was a coach (and I’m not) I’d use my subs for injury or blatant poor form only. There seems to be an unwritten rule that 8 subs need used every game. Its disruptive in the extreme.

  4. In fact, just to add one last point, it might just be the procurator fiscal who creates the space for Cuthbert in the team…

  5. Well Weir was absolutely terrible, standing deep for every ball and the same couple of plays which Edinburgh had worked out before walking on the pitch. His passing was also poor, Tonks really made him look bad.

    I was surprised how much Edinburgh dominated physically. Felt the introduction of Fusaro made a difference for Glasgow, able to slow the ball down a little, Holmes didn’t have his best game.

  6. I thought Cuthbert was pretty bad Vs Glasgow , spilled the pass 5 mts from the line on top of a few missed catches /balls lost in contact. He had good games Vs Glo and Mun but that should not be good enough to put you in the Scotland squad.
    Anyone heard when we can expect to see Matt Scott and/or Ross Rennie playing again?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion