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DIRT TRACK GUNNERS DOWNED IN GLASGOW

Glasgow Warriors: 19 (9) Edinburgh Rugby: 12 (3)



Older readers may remember the classic BBC political satire 'Yes Minister', the story of apparently hapless Minister Jim Hacker, who always seemed to be outwitted by his wily Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby.  Yet Hacker generally managed to fight back for a score draw in the end.  One of Sir Humphrey's favourite phrases was to describe a Ministerial idea as 'courageous' - mandarin for career-ending. 

There were certainly a fair few around the Edinburgh area who felt Mick Bradley's selection for this evening's tussle, featuring thirteen changes initially, was on the courageous side. Rotation's all very well, but this is a derby match, the oldest club rugby fixture in the world.  Were Embra just going to roll over when the usual bragging rights were at stake? But had there been some Embra mind games in the build up too?  The mysterious appearance of Messrs Denton, Gilchrist, Blair and Jones in the starting lineup perhaps suggested as much.

It was a struggle to find much to get excited about in the Edinburgh performance.  His card apart, Matt Scott looked good at times, Simon Webster had a couple of cameos.  Gilchrist and Turnbull had their moments in the loose, but overall the pack was second best in most aspects of the game.  That's pretty much it.  Then again, the result was not so different from the full strength Firhill failures we've become used to in recent years.

Frustratingly, Edinburgh immediately knocked on the opening kick off, Glasgow gathering before Traynor gave away a penalty.  Weir put the home side three up with less than two minutes on the clock.  After Edinburgh had put some phases together and got some field position in the opening exchanges, Moray Low was penalised for an off the ball niggle at the breakdown on seven minutes.  But Godman's horrible effort at goal is best forgotten.  All the same, the Gunners looked to have a definite game plan to play the ball very tight through the forwards on the Firhill postage stamp, Stuart 'Rambo' McInally taking the ball up a great deal early on, often picking up in textbook fashion behind a retreating scrum.

On 14 minutes, Andy 'Ned' Kelly was a mite unlucky to be called for not rolling away in the tackle.  Embra dodged the bullet, though, as this time it was Weir's turn for the ugly miss. Lovely work in defence by Lee Jones saw the winger beat towering Al Kellock to Weir's bomb to the corner shortly afterwards, but Glasgow were definitely turning up the heat and skipper Godman was warned by the referee following a Webster offside on 18 minutes.  Weir made no mistake this time - 6-0 Glasgow at the end of the first quarter.

For the second time in a row, Cusiter kicked the restart ball straight out after it had been carried back into the Warriors 22 to give Embra good field position.  The Gunners put in multiple phases but could not get quick ball with Glasgow hands all over it.  Eventually the penalty was awarded and Godman put the visitors on the board on 24 minutes but Embra were looking like a scratch side.  There was a distinct lack of zip about their play.  Unsurprisingly, the cohesion was just not there and the scrummage was under pressure, giving up a penalty on 25 minutes, Weir again putting Glasgow six points to the good.

On the half hour, Lemi just beat Houston to the touchdown after an Embra man had hacked on Weir's knock-on on his own 22.  That was about as close as the visitors were to come to the whitewash in the first period.  Edinburgh then enjoyed a period of decent field position, during which time Ned Kelly was seemingly tactically replaced, doing a 'Teves' as he came off the park. The match was, frankly, a bit of a mess as the half came to an end, with knock-ons and unforced fielding errors galore on both sides.  Godman had a penalty chance on 39 minutes after Hogg had been ludicrously pinged for not releasing in the tackle when he had not been held at all.  Justice was done when Godman missed.  Painful to watch at times, but Glasgow were the stronger outfit and deserved the lead at the break.

Low was penalised immediately following the second half restart, Godman knocking the three pointer to narrow the gap to three.  The little playmaker almost put Scott away in traffic shortly afterwards, but the pass drifted forwards.  Edinburgh looked to be upping the pace a bit more in the early stages and even won a scrum against the head. 

As the match entered the crucial middle 20 of the second period, for the third time a Glasgow kicker hoofed a ball taken back straight into touch, giving Embra an attacking lineout.  The pack rumbled the maul close then the ball was spun across with the refere playing advantage for Kellock taking the maul down.  Scott couldn't hold the Godman pass, then Godman missed the relatively simple penalty chance. But Edinburgh were immediately on the attack again, with a lineout just outside the enemy 22.  Some laboured phases drew another Glasgow penalty.  The blood spattered Godders tied the match nine apiece with the match entering the last quarter.  A try looked like it would win this.

With the game opening up a little - and I mean little - both Walker and MacDonald were starting to do some damage at the breakdown.  Glasgow were now moving the ball, but the Embra defence was coping comfortably.  But tighthead Jack Gilding stood up under pressure in the scrummage - not for the first time - and Glasgow knocked the penalty to touch in the Edinburgh 22.  While the defence held out, Scott was rightly carded for a dangerous tackle on Harley and Glasgow kicked to touch again.  12 minutes left - advantage Glasgow? They took due advantage of the power play, rumbling the ball over the line and after consulting the TMO, the referee awarded the try.  The missed conversion left Glasgow five points up with ten minutes left.

Traynor was penalised immediately afterwards as Glasgow upped the pace.  Replacement Scott Wight left Edinburgh needing more than a converted try with the successful kick. The Embra men looked to have lost their discipline, with MacDonald then giving away a stupid penalty to put Glasgow on the front foot again.

With time running out, a classic Webster manoeuvre conjured a chance out of nothing, the veteran's mazy run opening up the defence, allowing Godman to launch the bomb to the corner.  Jones gathered well and was tackled in the act of sliding over in the corner.  It looked like he was clearly in touch before grounding the ball and the TMO eventually made the right call. 

A sign of the lack of intelligence displayed by the Gunners on the night was this.  They did well to work the ball to the Glasgow 22 deep into injury time.  Glasgow were penalised.  But instead of taking the easy kick to get the bonus point and get out, they took the tap and were driven backwards. What on earth was that going to achieve?  Thankfully, Godman eventually managed to squeak a very long dropped goal over so that the the dirt trackers at least returned with a losing bonus point at the conclusion of a forgettable 1872 series.

The only way is up.