Edinburgh and Glasgow Securing Bonus Points Is a Tale of Two Games
Both Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors won at home this weekend, however, the score lines and the games could not have been more different. Whilst Edinburgh faced an ambitious Benetton outfit at BT Murrayfield, Glasgow came up against a resolute Dragons side at Scotstoun.
Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors both claimed victories in the Pro14 this weekend.
It was two very different score lines, and two very different performances, for the two Scottish sides this weekend. Edinburgh clung on to a 31-30 victory over Benetton Treviso, meanwhile Glasgow ground out a 29-13 win over Dragons.
The score lines, and number of tries scored, ensured that both home sides secured the bonus point victories. For Glasgow, this means they stay top of the table in Conference A. Whilst, for Edinburgh, this sees them tied in fourth position, with Benetton, in Conference B.
It was Edinburgh that opened the weekend, running out against their Italian contingent, on a fair Friday night in the capital. It was seemingly a must-win for Cockerill’s men, who had only won one of their four opening games – a win at home against Connacht.
The home side were boosted by the return of Bill Mata to their ranks – following a short injury – and the towering back-row showed no restraint in getting straight back in to the crunching tackles.
With Nigel Owens at the refereeing helm, the first half was somewhat chaotic in terms of Benetton’s defence – as Duhan van der Merwe managed to break through it twice, which allowed his rampaging runs to start attacking phases.
Cockerill’s men did not go unchallenged, however, and whilst they lead the try count at half time – they scored three to Benetton’s two – they were far from out of danger. And ultimately, both teams seemed to lose their attacking prowess for near the majority of the second half.
Another factor which allowed Benetton back into the game – and to score another three tries – was Edinburgh’s drastic decline in game management. Their defence seemed to break apart, and Benetton were able to utilise this to bring the game to such a narrow margin come full time.
The performances from both sides, for the most part, were relatively evenly matched, thus it was seemingly with sheer luck that Edinburgh managed to hold out for the full-time whistle. The attitude towards the game afterwards was an acceptance that the performance simply had to improve as outings like that cannot become acceptable.
Edinburgh’s match statistics. (Found on the official Pro14 website)
Recognition must go to Benetton
Another aspect to emerge from this game was that teams must not underestimate Benetton any longer. Due recognition must be observed as the Italian side have managed to overhaul their playing game into one in which they pose a plausible threat to their opposition.
Benetton are now showing more ambition and conviction than they have in recent seasons. Testiment to this hard work is the fact that, despite being on the visiting side, it was Luca Sperandio who was awarded the man of the match medal on Friday night.
The 22-year-old winger posted a standout performance in a frustrating clash, as he scored a hatrick of tries, made a number of breaks, and regularly provided a supporting line for his fellow backs.
Windy affair in Glasgow
On an extremely windy night in Glasgow, it was the Warriors who lead the charge at Scotstoun for most of the game – creating, and utilising, a number of key opportunities.
It was not a one-sided affair, however. The Dragons defence remained relatively resolute for most of the 80 minutes – but it was not enough to match the keen eye for identifying gaps and options that fly half Adam Hastings displayed.
Another Warrior who excelled himself was Oli Kebble. The prop seemed to cover the whole field, as he worked relentlessly in all aspects of the game – even crashing across the whitewash for his first try for Glasgow. And his efforts did not go unnoticed as the South African was also awarded the man of the match honour.
The weather did not aid either team throughout the game, as the wind was so strong that it caused the kickers trouble in aiming for the sticks, and lineouts were a struggle for the forwards.
Although the Dragons backs did pose threats of their own, Glasgow were able to remain composed, and the Welsh side only scored one try in the match, through centre Adam Warren.
Perhaps their shambolic outing against the Southern Kings had inspired Dave Rennie’s men to net a win, and a bonus point to prove to the league that last week was but a blip in their season.
Glasgow’s match statistics. (Found on the official Glasgow Warriors twitter)
Depth of both sides demonstrated
It was apparent on Saturday night that Dragons Rugby are in a rather similar situation to both of the Scottish Pro14 clubs, in that, they are developing their squad, and aiming to utilise the depth of players they are afforded.
One standout youngster for the Welsh outfit, is flanker Aaron Wainwright who – at just 21 – has burst onto the scene for both Dragons and Wales. After Dragons suffered a number of squad injuries, the youngster made his debut in October 2017, and managed to catch the eye of the Wales coaching staff – so much so that he was called in to the international team for their summer tour to the USA and Argentina this summer.
His remarkable start doesn’t seem to be losing any momentum as of yet, as so far this season he has featured in all of the Dragons games. So, he looks set to be making his mark on the flanker positions at Dragons for the foreseeable future.
Another notable youngster who graced the Scotstoun pitch on Saturday night – this time in a Warriors strip – was Andrew Davidson, who made his debut replacing Rob Harley after 64 minutes played. Surely somebody else noticed the amusing fact that Harley was replaced by the name Davidson?
The second row, who played in partnership with Scott Cummings at Scotland Academy level, has joined the Warriors on a loan deal for two months from Newcastle Falcons. Many fans are thus interested to see if the young Scot can prove his worth within the Glasgow camp. Only time will tell.