1872 Cup: Part 2, eventually took place at Scotstoun, and although Richard Cockerill had suggested going to the theatre if you wanted entertainment, Danny Wilson would be forgiven for standing on the middle of the pitch like Russell Crowe in ‘Gladiator’, asking: “Are you not entertained?”
Ross Thompson’s kick-off saw Glasgow put early pressure on the Edinburgh exit and despite Nic Groom’s boot to touch which took Warriors back to near half-way, some rapid-fire play won Glasgow a penalty which Thompson thumped over.
A big issue for Warriors’ in the first encounter between the two sides was Edinburgh’s dominance at the set-piece, but Glasgow won the penalty at the first scrum which Thompson put into the 22.
George Turner’s arrow was a bit sloppy looking, and although Matt Fagerson tidied it up, Edinburgh showed good line speed to force Robbie Fergusson into a knock-on.
Edinburgh’s scrum held up solidly only for the giant limbs of Richie Gray to block Groom’s clearing kick and the rebounding ball was knocked on by Edinburgh. It led to another penalty win for Glasgow, Aki Sieuli – who had been crushed in the last encounter by WP Nel – again getting pats on the back for his contribution, and Thompson, in squalid kicking conditions, hit the target.
Huw Jones knocked on the wind-affected restart, and a few phases later Sieluli was caught offside for Jaco van der Walt to half the deficit.
Some tight scrum battles in the midfield ended with a glorious bit of booting from van der Walt which stuck Glasgow back in their 22, but when there’s the giant Richie Gray in the line-out – whom George Turner had admitted during the week “If I do a crap throw, he saves me sometimes” – it helps.
That danger was cleared but Edinburgh gained a bit of ascendency over the next few minutes. The Burgh boys could’ve equalised with an easy looking penalty, but they went to the line, albeit with premier line-out jumper Ben Toolis being a late injury withdrawal for Charlie Hodgson.
The maul went nowhere, van der Walt flung a nice pass out wide to Farndale who was snaffled by Huw Jones, but Ali Price and George Turner held their man (think it was Watson) up with a choke tackle to win the put-in for Glasgow.
A few minutes of nothing happened until Grant Gilchrist went to charge down an Ali Price box-kick, which Turner blocked by taking a step and dipping the shoulder in, which saw the Glasgow hooker take a 10-min seat and Edinburgh win a penalty just inside the Glasgow half.
Edinburgh went to the corner, as they had done frequently in the first encounter, but as had happened in that game, the giraffe-like limbs of Richie Gray went up and nicked it.
Although Gray had managed to knock it back, Lee Jones was hauled over his own line by Rory Sutherland, and eventually Farndale found a bit of space on the right to weave into the corner.
Van der Walt converted magnificently into the wind to give Embra a 10-6 lead with 90secs left, which was followed rather hilariously with Nic Groom assuming that a passing train’s hooter had called for half-time, so he booted it out under no pressure in his 22.
A quick line-out led to a penalty which Price tapped and went with, Edinburgh were caught offside and Thompson knocked over another penalty to reduce to the slimmest margin as the half ended.
Half-time: Glasgow Warriors 9 – 10 Edinburgh
Kinghorn’s kick-off felt the full force of the wind and barely went 7m, but the bounce of the ball nearly turned into their favour when Glasgow were forced to play it and Mata took a belter of a Garryowen which had held up in the wind, only for Kinghorn to then fling the ball into touch with a possible overlap wide left.
Mata then got pinged for a high hit on Thompson, Turner came back on of the bin and made some metres off the back of the maul, and with penalty advantage Matt Fagerson bundled over after a solid incursion from Sieuli had got Warriors to within 5m.
Youngster Rufus MacLean showed how wingers should enter rucks; take note Liam Williams, to force an error at the breakdown from Magnus Bradbury, and off the set-piece play Huw Jones straightened up and took Warriors deep into the Edinburgh 22.
Van der Walt saw yellow for slowing the ball down, and Turner showed his prowess from the back of the maul by latching on and diving over, and Thompson’s trustworthy boot extended the lead which gave Richard Cockerill the chance to shore up the Edinburgh scrum by bringing on Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel.
Edinburgh responded within seconds, a fantastic break off a line-out by Dave Cherry was taken on by Hamish Watson and Chris Dean was on his right shoulder to score a lovely try which had started on the halfway line, which former Warrior, Mark Bennett converted with van der Walt on the naughty step.
Although down to 14, Edinburgh started to dominate and thought they had scored again only for Schoeman to be pinged for a double movement just after the hour mark.
Another tidy shift from Richie Gray was then ended by the return of another former superstar and club legend: Leone Nakarawa.
He got involved as Glasgow chucked it wide, Fergusson hacked ahead with little on, and Kinghorn’s lackadaisical attempt to clear was charged down by the all-action Thompson, but Glasgow knocked on when within 15m of the try-line.
With Schoeman and Nel now on, Edinburgh knew they had the upper hand at the scrum, won a penalty and started to motor upfield, only for the mulleted-monster Hamish Watson to knock-on as they swiftly moved forwards.
Almost unfathomably, Sieuli won the penalty against Nel, Huw Jones and Bennett traded darting runs, and from Bennett’s line-break, Huw Jones saw yellow which meant Glasgow would see out the game a man down.
Edinburgh went to touch with 4mins to go, and Dean crossed the line on the opposite wing but Lee Jones had shoved him into touch with penalty advantage to Edinburgh.
Centre-field position, Edinburgh had a choice to make: they went for the scrum 10m out. Schoeman v Zander; Nel v Sieuli.
Somehow, the Glasgow props who had been on since the beginning held up, but Eroni Sau fended off Ollie Smith to cross in the corner, leaving van der Walt with the chance to win it from way out wide.
He missed, but there was enough time left for the restart.
Thompson, who was excellent, put a high one up, and it was grabbed by Jonny Matthews of all people. Time was up, but Glasgow couldn’t find space to safely boot it out, so they saw through another few phases until awarded another penalty.
Thompson went for another go at the sticks but missed his first one of the evening, albeit the ball went dead and the game was over.
As crap as the last game had been, this one was its opposite. Some damn good tries, some real drama, some questionable calls, but 1872 Cup: Episode 2 finished with the narrowest of margins and some moments from the youngsters to be pleased with.
Full-time: Glasgow Warriors 23-22 Edinburgh
SRblog Player of the Match: Thompson earns a lot of plaudits and was given it by Al Kellock on Premier Sports, but I’m dishing it out to Aki Seiuli.
He’s tidy and effervescent around the park but his bread and butter at the scrum has often let him down, but not today. He combined both to good effect.
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)