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A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Glasgow: 37 (23) Edinburgh Rugby: 34 (13)



Nine tries all told, one bonus point for Glasgow, two for Embra and a three point margin would tend to suggest a real thriller at Scotstoun this evening.  And tonight's was a match that did indeed have its moments.  The truth is, though, that it was only so close because Edinburgh notched a couple of late Visser tries, one of which was so debateable that the officials eventually awarded five points for a subsequent Leonardi dart that looked even less convincing. 

That the Embramen narrowed the gap on the scoreboard at the death was partly because they started to chuck the ball around a bit, but largely as a result of Glasgow not so much taking their foot off the gas as parking the car and putting their feet up beside the fire at the end of a decent shift.  Not only does the scoreboard not lie, but the league table doesn't either.  Glasgow have won more than twice as many times this season as Edinburgh, while the Gunners currently lead the league only in losing bonus points secured. The Warriors are cruising into the playoffs and are perfectly capable of winning this thing overall.  Good luck to them.

Glasgow seemed a bit subdued this evening, particularly in the second half, but they were able to create and take chances, while one was impressed with their outside backs throughout. The Embramen have a makeshift look about them, partly due to injury but partly, it seems, through choice.  It may be that the management are giving a few marginal candidates a chance to show what they can do before making a definitive decision as to whether they have a future at the club.  Inevitably, that's going to lead to the sort of handling errors that we saw at key moments this evening, where the understanding isn't quite there.  Inevitably, too, it's going to lead to the sort of conservative gameplan that we saw again in this match. 

The coaching staff are paid good money to make these decisions and who am I to say they're wrong?  I am, however, astonished that we seem to be preparing to let one of the best opensides in northern hemisphere rugby, Ross Rennie, go elsewhere.  That is madness.  Equally, Matt Scott has the ability to be an outstanding international playmaking 12.  I struggle to see what we are achieving by repeatedly fielding him at outside centre.

The home side retained the 1872 Cup, as usual, and now sit second in the Rabo.  They are a point ahead of Munster with two matches against Italian opposition who have nothing to play for at the end of the season.  Achieving a home semi-final is within their control.  Meanwhile, the Gunners may have nudged up to seventh in the league, but they sit nine points behind sixth placed Llanelli.  The chances of them turning over both Munster and Leinster with a try bonus in their final two matches are not particularly high.

Glasgow were eight points to the good in the first ten minutes after an early Russell penalty and Murchie's try in the corner off lineout ball.  Russell's second penalty shortly afterwards seemed ominous from an East Coast perspective and it was all one way traffic at that point.

Not for the first time, though, Cuthbert's uncanny ability to burst through the defence running good lines came to the fore, the big full back's break putting Edinburgh on the attack.  WP 'WP' Nel took the ball up from five metres out, breaking three or four tackles in a confined area to smash over for what was, for him, an uncharacteristically short-range score, Laidlaw converting on 15 minutes.

After Laidlaw had narrowed the gap to a point with a penalty, van der Westhuizen was binned for a high tackle on the impressive Bennett, playing at outside centre this evening, but not before Jackson had taken the ball on and crossed to extend the home lead to 16-7.  When Laidlaw pulled a penalty back on 35 minutes, a likely 16-13 deficit at the half looking manageable for the visitors, especially with the advantage of the wind to come in the second period.

But Glasgow notched the first of two blows that were to decide the contest.  With time running out, they kicked a second penalty to touch and then shipped the ball wide for Bennett to score in the left, well conmverted by Russell for a 23-13 lead at the break.

The second blow took place shortly after the restart.  After Coman had rightly been penalised for killing ruck ball, he was also carded for his trouble within a minute of play resuming.  Edinburgh managed the power play for some minutes until Glasgow inevitably took advantage.  After Russell had come close, Murchie crossed again for the bonus point try and a 30-13 advantage with around half an hour to go already looked beyond the Gunners.

They stuck at it, though, with Matt Scott looking dangerous cutting back against the drifting defence.  The second five-eighth playing outside centre scored from close in, cutting back and nipping under the cover on 58 minutes.  30-20 with the conversion. 

Again, Glasgow extended the lead, Matawalu's alert quick tap in the enemy 22 saw Harley cross from a Vernon offload with five minutes to go.  There was time enough left for two Embra tries, the result of a bit of heads-up rugby combined with the return of Tim Visser's formidable nose for the line.  Visser's second was the result of a fabulous long pass in open field from Grant Gilchrist. But two bonus points were all they managed to secure in the end and really were all they deserved.