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BIG HEARTED EDINBURGH PREVAIL AT SCOTSTOUN

Glasgow Warriors: 18 (11) Edinburgh Rugby: 29 (9)



And so this season ends.  The Gunners made the short, but fairly daunting, journey along the newly upgraded M8 to face a Glasgow side who were bidding farewell to some well kent faces, not least of whom was Gregor 'Toony' Townsend.

Toony leaves Glasgow in good heart, with the mouth watering prospect of Dave Rennie's arrival after the Super Rugby season. They are set fair to kick on again.  As are Scotland under the Gala man's stewardship.  The SRU are now turning to the unfinished business of Edinburgh Rugby.  One looks ahead with interest to the arrival of 'Jarvis' Cockers after the Top 14 campaign concludes.

The challenge for the Embramen this afternoon was to spoil the Warriors' party.  A tall order at the best of times, but doubly difficult in the light of their disappointing run of form since the turn of the year.  That said, Townsend will be naming his Scotland touring squad shortly and had made it clear that this match would serve as an unofficial trial. Would the unwonted summer weather see a surprise result?

A superb defensive display by this Edinburgh side, coupled with the opportunism of tonight's Man of the Match Damien Hoyland and Glenn Bryce, saw the capital men rain on Glasgow's parade.  It may be stretching the metaphor a bit, but there was a faint rainbow from an Edinburgh perspective as this team showed what they are capable of.  That bodes well for their future under new management.

It didn't get off to a great start, though.  Russell knocked a penalty over into the strong wind off a ruck penalty conceded by the Gunners taking the opening kick off.  Off a fine break up the wing by Dean, Edinburgh worked the phases and had a penalty shot of their own on five minutes. Weir's wind assisted effort leveled the scores at 3-3.

The Glasgow Boy had a second effort on 13 minutes following a bit of afters around an Edinburgh ruck.  He struck it beautifully to nudge the Embramen 6-3 to the good.  Though there was not much of a pattern to play in the early stages, both sides were looking to move the ball and the Gunners had a slight edge at the breakdown, while Fagerson Snr was dominating at scrum time.  Russell evened the score on 17 minutes off a breakdown penalty inside the Embra 22.  All square at six at the end of the first quarter.

Glasgow were starting to build some field position in and around the enemy 22, although the Gunners were secure in the tackle and slowing ball well. But on 25 minutes, Ross Ford was carded for a high tackle on the sniping Price and really could not have had any complaint. The penalty count was beginning to mount and one wondered whether the momentum was starting to go the Warriors' way.  Glasgow kicked to the corner but Hardie and Gilchrist did a great job to force the turnover as the attacking maul went to ground.

Short-handed Edinburgh managed the power play well, winning a penalty chance on 32 minutes, Weir's successful kick put them ahead once more. The Warriors were dominating possession but one felt they were forcing play a bit much and their handling suffered.  But SHC was penalised and carded for failing to release the breaking Price in the tackle.  The Warriors kicked to the corner against their now 13 man opponents. 

But Russell rather butchered an opening with an overlap outside him, which gave the Gunenrs the ball then the chance to clear.  Edinburgh had dodged another bullet through their heroic defence.

Glasgow patiently worked the phases in the 22 and the try, when it came, was a beauty.  A gap opened up before Cummings, who rumbled forward in some space then flipped a Toony-esque pass out of the back of his right hand to Jonny Gray.  The home skipper advanced in stately fashion to cross for the opening try of the match.  Although Russell missed the conversion, it was enough to give Glasgow a narrow, but deserved, advantage at the break.

A beautiful run through a gap from Glenn Bryce, who's been coming on to a game in recent matches, from the restart won an immediate penalty.  The little playmaker beat the wind from distance to regain the lead, 12-11 Edinburgh on 42 minutes and still a man down.

Glasgow knocked a penalty into the Edinburgh 22.  While the Gunners checked the maul well, the Warriors upped the pace, Russell delayed his pass beautifully and Jones looked to have nipped over in the corner on 46 minutes. The TMO noticed his foot in touch, though, and Edinburgh breathed again. Glasgow were again on the attack in the 22 and knocked another penalty to the five metre line.  But once again, the visiting pack defendced the maul superbly and forced the turnover as it went to gournd.

Off an adventurous break out from turnover ball in defence, Hoyland gathered his own hoof ahead and offloaded to Hardie around the Glasgow 22.  The breakdown ball was slowed down illegally and Weir had a fifth pop at goal.  He slotted the goal into the wind and it was now a 15-11 Edinburgh advantage entering the middle quarter on 52 minutes.

The Warriors rang the changes - maybe too early - and as the game got looser, surprisingly, it was the Embramen who were looking friskier.  Dunbar was penalised for a breakdown offence on 54 minutes and Weir knocked the ball into touch deep into the home 22.   

Then Hoyland scored a fine solo effort, taking quick ball in traffic, pirhouetting through two taackles and scooted over. Weir's conversion put the Embramen 22-11 up on 57 minutes.  The Cup was in play now, not simply the victory.  Another Glasgow breakdown offence and one felt that referee Adamson must have been thinking about flashing a yellow as the home penalty count mounted.

On 61 minutes, the Gunners were penalised at the breakdown after a good run from Hogg along the wing.  The full back fancied his chances from inside his own half but just pushed the massive kick wide. He had a closer chance immediately afterwards, but instead knocked the kick to touch in the familair territory of the Gunners' 22. The pace was upped significantly and Seymour, coming into the line on a superb angle at high speed looked to have crossed on 64 minutes. But the TMO again came to Edinburgh's rescue after superb work by Hoyland and Turner held the Lion up.  The locals were unimpressed but it looked the correct decision.

It was merely a score delayed, though.  Absolutely exquisite timing of the pass from Russell drew Rasolea and opened the gap for Hogg to nip through for a well-worked score.  The conversion made the deficit 22-18 and this one was on a knife edge as Sean Lamont came on for his final Glasgow appearance.  

SHC thought he'd scored immediately from the restart, pouncing on a loose ball, but was rightly adjudged to have knocked on in the act.  Then a thrilling break, featuring superb handling from Hogg and Russell, released Lamont in space.  The old boy outran his support but the Gunners were pinged at the breakdown on their own 22.  Russell managed to miss the straightforward chance on 68 minutes, but the Warriors looked like they were revving up to cut loose.

Another Embra penalty on their 10 metre line saw Hogg kick to the corner as Glasgow went in for the kill.  They guddled the ball off the lineout and, though Hoyland cleared, were immediately back on the attack.  Berghan clearly knocked Glasgow ball on deliberately in defence, but a preceding Glasgow accidental offside gave the Gunners, once again, another life.

They worked the ball away, by hook or by crook, and Weir then knocked a penalty into the Glasgow 22 with the clock ticking down. But this time it was Glasgow who defended the maul well to win turnover ball.  Edinburgh kept the pressure on and Glasgow just could not break out heading into injury time.  The match ended with the Gunners' pack pounding the Glasgow line until eventually Kennedy whipped the ball to Bryce for the former Warrior to cross. Weir's excellent conversion won the match for the capital club as they ran out deserved victors on the night, Glasgow taking the cup on aggregate by a narrow two point margin.

A positive end to a difficult season; one that holds out hope for next term.

We are already seeing signs of change at Mon Repos as a result of the Cockerill regime, both on and off the field. Robbie Fruean will no doubt soon be confirmed as the club's latest new signing as next season's squad takes shape. Although he has had his fitness issues, one hopes that these are behind him and he will bring some directness to Edinburgh's back play in a midfield which needs strengthening.  

It is only unfortunate that Mark 'Gordon' Bennett is likely to miss much of next season through injury himself. However, I look forward to seeing them in harness together on the park sooner rather than later, when we can enjoy the debate as to whether it's possible for a 13 to be effective at 12.

One feels that there are some more gaps to be filled for next term, particularly in the backs.  And if 'Big' Jim Hamilton returns in the twilight of his career, as is vaguely rumoured, there will be the makings of a useful, rather more hard nosed, squad for Jarvis to work with.

But that's for next season.  In the meantime, have a great summer and I'll see you again in August for the Gunners' latest new dawn.