Dominant Second Half Comeback Secures 1872 Cup and Pro14 Play-Off Spot for Edinburgh
Edinburgh staged a comeback in the second half of tonight’s 1872 Cup match against Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield to claim the 1872 Cup for a third consecutive season and secure their place in the play-offs of the Pro14 league.
The outcome of tonight’s game means the capital side hold on to the prestigious 1872 Cup for a third consecutive season, and perhaps more importantly, solidifies their place at the top of the Pro14’s Conference B table.
Having trailed 15-13 at half time, Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh men turned on the burners in the second 40 minutes to recapture the match lead, and never relented as they kept the Warriors scoreless in the second half.
The match, with Glasgow as the home team despite the game being held at BT Murrayfield, was full of firsts. Most notably, it was the first time either team had played a game since February 28th, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted all league play and sent the nation into lockdown.
Glasgow kicked things off through Adam Hastings, but it was Edinburgh who were first on the board just three minutes into the action. A penalty for Matt Fagerson not rolling away from his tackle on Bill Mata gave Jaco Van Der Walt a comfortable shot at goal to give the capital side three points.
Van Der Walt soon doubled the lead with another penalty, this time for the Glasgow backs being offside at an Edinburgh lineout just outside the Warriors’ 22. It seemed in the early stages, with their penalties and a Huw Jones move being well read by Mark Bennett, that Edinburgh had used their time since lockdown return to do their homework on their derby rivals.
Glasgow joined their opponents on the board as Hastings slotted a penalty given for Edinburgh loosehead Rory Sutherland pulling down at the scrum 10 metres into his side’s half.
The lead was stolen from Edinburgh through a Pete Horne try. Attacking fast, and using a quick take on a penalty near the line, Fraser Brown crashed to within centimetres of the line, allowing Glasgow to recycle ball out to the inside centre Horne to go over. Tempers boiled as Hastings brushed past Stuart McInally who seemed to take umbrage to the move, throwing the Glasgow man to the ground.
After players had piled in to defend their teammates, referee Mike Adamson – who has refereed five of the last eight 1872 Cup clashes – was able to calm tempers, taking a second look to confirm there was no need for a card. Following the excitement, Hastings converted the score.
An unfortunate early change was forced as Edinburgh debutant Andrew Davidson – a former Warrior – required a HIA after 27 minutes of play, with the second row being replaced by fellow Scottish academy graduate Jamie Hodgson.
The points lead bounced back to Edinburgh with a well-worked, battering try finished by Nic Groom. Moving the ball across field, Blair Kinghorn was stopped metres from the line with Duhan Van Der Merwe then taking the ball on, manhandling Huw Jones in an effort to evade his tackle. Utilising the slow ball phases, Groom backed himself in a small gap at the feet of the returning Warrior Richie Gray, and the half back crashed over. Van Der Walt converted what was a classic scrum half try.
However it was Glasgow who returned to the changing rooms in the lead as they somewhat mirrored Edinburgh’s score. Creeping closer to the line in hard-worked phases, a quick pass from Ali Price to Hastings allowed the latter to fall over the line, wrapped between two Edinburgh defenders.
An oddly struck kick didn’t produce the conversion points, meaning Glasgow’s half-time lead lay at just two points, the board reading 15-13.
The second half began with both teams ringing the changes. Hodgson was confirmed as a permanent replacement for Davidson, Pierre Schoeman relieved Sutherland and Simon Berghan emerged in the place of WP Nel. On the Warrior’s bench, Oli Kebble took a seat as new signing Dylan Evans came on for his debut and Tom Gordon replaced the record cap holder Rob Harley.
Some rather ragged attacking play from both sides culminated in a penalty for Glasgow in the Edinburgh half. Once more Hastings’ boot was inaccurate however, as despite keeping it low, his kick went wide of the posts.
Possession bobbed back and forth between the sides, as more reinforcements were called for to re-energise the game. Edinburgh benefited best from the substitutions, launching an attack off the back of a lineout. Chris Dean put in a well-timed pass to Van Der Merwe who paraded through the defence, ball held in one hand, before sniping a pass to Groom in his support line. Van Der Walt then found himself converting a Groom try for the second time.
Cockerill’s side soon increased their lead past a converted score when a penalty for Dylan Evans collapsing a scrum at the loosehead was well struck through the posts by Van Der Walt.
A fixture renowned for fierce rivalry and combative nature, it was no real surprise when play was halted as Ryan Wilson and Nick Haining had to be separated following words, and a few shoves, with the referee warning both sides that he would accept no more after the ball extras.
Replacements by Glasgow were to no avail, as Edinburgh only lengthened their lead, keeping the Warriors’ scoreless for the duration of the second 40 minutes. In the last score of the game, Haining swooped a pass to Charlie Shiel who, having taken it above his head, carved between defenders Wilson and Nico Matawalu to cross the whitewash.
And, with a beautifully struck conversion, Van Der Walt – the eventual man of the match – made his last contribution to the game before being replaced by the debuting Nathan Chamberlain.
Edinburgh’s cohesiveness and dominant second half performance mirrored the play they regularly produced in the regular season before the pandemic. Securing the 1872 Cup and a top place in the Conference B table will surely have relit any fires in Edinburgh’s ranks that may have slightly dimmed in the absence of rugby during lockdown.
Glasgow Warriors: H Jones; T Seymour, N Grigg, P Horne, R Tagive; A Hastings, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson, R Gray, S Cummings, R Harley, M Fagerson, R Wilson. Subs: G Turner, D Evans, D Rae, K McDonald, T Gordon, G Horne, N Matawalu, G Bryce.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; E Sau, M Bennett, C Dean, D Van Der Merwe; J Van Der Walt, N Groom; R Sutherland, S McInally, WP Nel, A Davidson, G Gilchrist, L Crosbie, H Watson, B Mata. Subs: M Willemse, P Schoeman, S Berghan, J Hodgson, N Haining, C Shiel, N Chamberlain, G Taylor.
Referee: Mike Adamson.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: P Horne, Hastings. Cons: Hastings. Pens: Hastings.
Edinburgh: Tries: Groom 2, Shiel. Cons: Van Der Walt 3. Pens: Van Der Walt 3.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): (0-0), (0-3), (0-6), (3-6), (8-6), (10-6), (10-11), (10-13), (15-13) HT (15-18), (15-20), (15-23), (15-28), (15-30) FT.
Man of the Match: Jaco Van Der Walt.