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BIG D WINS IT FOR EDINBURGH

Edinburgh: 23 (13) Glasgow Warriors: 7 (7)



The first round of the 1872 Cup series went definitively to the Gunners at BT Murrayfield this evening.  Big D, in the form of Duhan van der Merwe, The Beast From The East, scored both of the Embramen's tries.  But his brace of interception scores were the result of two more - suffocating Defence and total Domination of the forward battle.

Edinburgh simply suffocated the visitors.  While Adam Hastings threw the two interceptions, another errant pass - Pete Horne's into touch on no-side with a two man overlap on the outside - was as much the story of the match.  The Warriors just could not get their high octane attacking game going at all.  Under extreme pressure, the cracks showed and they were frequently forced into trying the wonder pass. But those passes refused to stick.

While van der Merwe secured Man of the Match honours, this was a real team performance by the Embramen.  The starting front row destroyed their opposite numbers in the scrummage.  Centurion 'Big' Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist bossed the lineout and carried well.  Although Bill Mata had a quiet game by his standards, Watson and Hamilton got through a power of work at the breakdown.  Pyrgos' box kicking and 'Piet' van der Walt's control from 10 were crucial in dictating the pace of the match.  The unsung Edinburgh midfield did their work with quiet effectiveness, while the back three always looked eager to attack when they had the chance.

Hats off, too, to defensive svengali Calum 'Kitty' Macrae.

There was a certain inevitability about the victory, even when Pete Horne scored a fine try just before the break off a smart chip by his brother. You never seriously felt that Edinburgh were going to lose such was the control that the Gunners exerted throughout.  Glasgow so rarely looked like scoring that this match was over after an hour, when van der Merwe's second touchdown took the margin beyond two converted tries.  The Gunners have the Indian sign over the Warriors at BT Murrayfield.

It was all Edinburgh in the early stages and were rewarded with van der Walt's first penalty on nine minutes after Harley was penalised at the breakdown.

Four minutes later, a loose Hastings pass was intercepted by van der Merwe.  The winger cantered away from the defence to score from distance, the conversion leaving the home side a handy 10-0 to the good on 13 minutes. A second van der Walt penalty after a great Johnstone break stretched the advantage further, to 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.  The Gunners were playing a highly structured game and it was paying off, albeit one felt they could have done with a bigger cushion to withstand the inevitable Glaswegian riposte.

Then the Warriors struck at a crucial time, just before the break, with a score made in Cupar.  Off ruck ball, livewire half back George Horne chipped the Edinburgh defence for elder brother Pete to touch down behind the posts.  Hastings' conversion narrowed the gap to 13-7.  Although the Warriors hadn't really threatened, they were right back in this match.

Glasgow started the second period strongly, forcing a string of Edinburgh penalties at the breakdown.  It set up some Glasgow pressure in a half where they were to dominate both territory and possession.  But they came away empty handed.  Worse was to follow when van der Merwe broke out and chipped ahead for Jimmy Johnstone to chase.  Althought the centre was hauled down just short to the line, Gibbins was carded for cynically slowing down the ruck ball with the Warriors' defence nowhere.  van der Walt converted the penalty on 55 minutes and the visitors had a mountain to climb.

It looked like game over later in the power play, when van der Merwe intercepted Hastings a second time and galloped away for his second interception try on the hour.  23-7 Edinburgh and Glasgow were now in damage limitation mode, looking at least to secure the losing bonus.

Their handling and decision making became increasingly erratic.  Pyrgos intercepted Grigg to snuff out another attack before Edinburgh decided to ring the changes to give key front liners a rest and understudies some game time.  With their bench emptied, they still maintained the same defensive solidity to close out what was in the end a comfortable win.

Advantage Edinburgh in the first match of this series. But away from the BT Murrayfield kryptonite, one would expect Glasgow to be a different prospect at Scotstoun after Christmas. This series has only just begun.

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