Controversially switched at the last minute to a rainy BT Murrayfield, leg 2 of the 1872 Cup saw the Warrior Nation doing their best to make it a vocal “home” support with the SRU’s efforts to keep it a Glasgow fixture in more than name meaning some 57,000 empty seats held back.
Glasgow started in lively fashion with plenty of offloading despite the conditions and earned themselves an early attacking lineout but Fraser Brown overthrew to nobody in what was to be the first of many lineout failures on both sides. Not a great day for hookers, with Ross Ford sitting out a large chunk of the game through injury and Brown later being hooked just when he was exerting some influence in the second half.
Glasgow were at least sharp enough on the deck to earn a first kickable penalty back quickly, and Duncan Weir opened the scoring.
As well as the key battle at hooker, scrum half Ali Price was looking to impress but knocked on trying to get the ball away from a great attacking position just as Glasgow were building, and the game reverted to a series of fluffed up lineouts before Sam Hidalgo-Clyne evened things up with a penalty.
Glasgow worked through the phases reasonably well, but there was always a moment such as the one when the ball popped loose for Edinburgh, Cornell du Preez hoofed a clearance kick downfield and Mark Bennett was swamped by Edinburgh chasers, giving Hidalgo-Clyne another easy 3 points. The “home” team were more willing to play the rugby but for every sidestepping, jinking run there was a misguided hoof into touch to fizzle the moves out.
Finally though Glasgow broke through after sustained phases and huge, incisive carrying from Jonny Gray and Chris Fusaro before Price popped it to Bennett for the try.
The closing minutes of the half saw an excellent Duncan Weir kick from hand undo the lively Michael Allen’s great break at the other end and Glasgow piling on pressure for another try. Looking to make an impression, Fraser Brown looked to have scored a very handy try until the TMO spotted him holding back defenders seconds before it. The try cancelled, Glasgow had the lead but little else.
Half-time: Glasgow 8-6 Edinburgh
The second half started in far less inspiring fashion with Allen again impressing during a brief Edinburgh breakout but Hidalgo-Clyne missing a kick and neither side really taking hold of the game. Glasgow had more of the possession initially while Edinburgh were looking a little ragged and constantly offside, giving Weir another pop at goal for 11-6.
Ragged though is pretty much where Edinburgh do their business these days and when even the hands of Leone Nakarawa are spilling ball, the hope of some exciting rugby from either side vanished as it degenerated into a tussle for precious league points. With the margin so narrow the Cup was all but gone for Glasgow with quarter of an hour to go as Sam Hidalgo-Clyne pulled their lead down to 2 with another penalty.
Edinburgh were themselves keen for the win, cup be damned, and spurned the points on a couple of occasions. Their faith was rewarded when – in very similar circumstances to Glasgow’s try – they battered through multiple phases before Phil Burleigh took it round the corner. Hogg went too high in the tackle and when he was swatted off, (just back from injury) Pete Murchie couldn’t keep him out. Injury was added to insult when Pete Horne was taken off injured in the same time.
Momentum firmly with Edinburgh, Glasgow started to chase the game too hard and we all know that when Scottish teams do that, knock-ons happen. Fitzgibbon gifted them a penalty which might have been kickable but Weir put it into the corner and set the “home” team up for an assault on Edinburgh’s line that went through two spells of 12+ phases. It was incredibly short-sighted of Grayson Hart and Duncan Weir not to test out Big Taqele against Damien Hoyland, and when he did come looking for work (as Scottish wingers must) there wasn’t enough space to get him up to speed.
With Edinburgh quite happy to tackle all day, it was almost inevitable that the ball would disappear into a pile, the ref would whistle up and Glasgow’s incredibly frustrating season would continue, while Edinburgh’s hard won, un-glamorous success continues.