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GUNNERS WIN UGLY

Edinburgh Rugby: 19 Glasgow: 17 - 7 May 2004



When the winner of the much-coveted Virgin Trains man of the match limited edition pendolino model train does so despite having sent a punt fully fifteen yards backwards during the game, then you know that you've just endured a match that few observers will be telling their grandchildren about. And any who do, frankly, need to get out more. In a game that saw both sides set a world record for knock-ons and unforced errors at crucial stages, the boot of Ali Warnock gave the Gunners a narrow 19-17 win over their rivals from the west.

Indeed, possibly the best piece of handling seen all night was when Flinty, the cuddly stag, brilliantly caught a Glasgow clearance, following that up with an athletic Willie Banks-like long jump into the Meadowbank sand. Back on the pitch, this was a fairly typical end-of-season tussle, with Edinburgh having nothing much to play for, and lacking a number of first choices through injury.

Things started off brightly enough, though, with Blackadder having a dangerous run off a driving maul, only to be pulled back for accidental offside. When Glasgow got into their stride after five minutes, Edinburgh's defence looked sound. Shortly afterwards, Philip delayed a fraction too long in giving to Sharman on the left wing after a fine Gunners movement. At the other end, only a fine Warnock chase and cover tackle denied Parks what would have been a spectacular breakaway try after the Glasgow 10 had intercepted an errant Edinburgh pass.

The Gunners' scrummage had Glasgow in all sorts of trouble early on, with Jacobsen putting opposite number Proudfoot under pressure. Towards the end of the quarter, they drove Glasgow off their own ball and a Blair chip behind the defence was only just cleared to touch. Visiting scrum-half Pinder's radar seemed to be on the blink for the succeeding five minutes, with a succession of passes veering widely, if spectacularly, off target. It cranked into life on 28 minutes, though, when he wriggled through several weak home tackles to score under the posts, Parks' conversion making the score 7-0 Glasgow, a lead which they deserved on the run of play.

But the Gunners hit back quickly. An attacking lineout in Glasgow's 22, which Edinburgh actually managed to win - unusually on a night when their touchline work left something to be desired - set up an excellent maul, which rumbled over for an unconverted try for No 8 Andrew Dall. Although two home errors shortly afterwards gave Glasgow good field position deep in the home 22, excellent Edinburgh defence alowled the danger to be cleared. The half-time score was 7-5 Glasgow.

A Parks penalty after the restart stretched the lead to 10-5. Then a fine Lawson break, once again saw a promising Edinburgh move break down with a handling error. The Gunners were throwing the ball around in the back three in an effort to conjure a break. And, indeed, Webster delivered the most exquisite scoring pass of the night with an hour on the clock. Unfortunately, it went to Parks five metres out, and the international stand-off cruised over for the converted try that took the Glasgow lead to 17-5. A bit disappointing.

But the jiggery pokery in the backs eventually paid off five minutes later when an amazing series of phases, featuring virtually everyone in the home team at least once, saw Blackadder take the ball on to the right wing on the Glasgow 22. The ball was spun out for Philip to crash through an opening in midfield, then offload to the supporting Di Rollo, who touched down under the posts. The Warnock conversion took the score to 17-12 and the Gunners were back in the hunt.

The turning point took place with ten minutes left. Warnock began a super run on his own 22, before kicking behind the defence deep into enemy territory. Lamont gave him a tug on his way past, satisfying referee Owens not only that a penalty should be awarded, but that the Glasgow winger should spend ten minutes in the bin. Glasgow managed to disrupt the Gunners maul from the succeeding lineout and cleared the immediate danger. But when Beardshaw was also carded for not rolling away in the tackle with Edinburgh pressing again, the writing was on the wall for the visitors.

Another penalty kicked to touch set up another Gunners maul. The streamlined, athletic figure who appeared from the back of the pack and nipped over in the corner for Edinburgh's third try of the night proved to be substitute Joel Brannigan, the proud owner of a new pair of boots that have clearly given him that crucial extra yard of pace.

Warnock's concentration at the conversion attempt cannot have been helped a great deal by the referee's late decision to move the ball almost to the touchline when the young stand-off was well into his pre-kick Zen-like trance. The ball seemed to change direction at least three times during its flight, then hit the upright, before squeezing over for the home lead. The Gunners held out in the usual eight minutes of injury time to record a 19-17 win.

The result was reminiscent of the Exiles' Under 20 team's last minute 15-14 win over a combined Glasburgh - or Edingow, depending on which end of the M8 you hail from - side in the curtain-raiser, but which featured rather better handling than was seen later in the evening.

"Pretty" would not be the first word one would use to describe a performance which was ugly with a capital "Ugh". But a win is, indeed, a win, and the Gunners will be pleased to get one over on their city rivals to round off their season's adventures at Meadowbank. They now travel to Cardiff for their final game of the season next Thursday night. In the meantime, you can round off your own season by coming along to the Edinburgh Rugby Supporters' Club AGM at Murrayfield Wanderers on Wednesday 12 May at 7.00 pm.

VIRGIN TRAINS MAN OF THE MATCH: DAN PARKS for a generally tidy display with the boot, as well as getting his backs moving nicely at times. Ali Hogg won another Supporters' Club prize.

SCORERS:

Edinburgh: Warnock 2C, Dall 1T, Di Rollo 1T, Brannigan 1T
Glasgow: Parks 1T 1P 2C, Pinder 1T

TEAMS:

Edinburgh Rugby: Hugo; Webster, Di Rollo, Philip, Sharman; Warnock, Blair: Jacobsen, Di Ciacca, Smith, Pike, Kellock, Blackadder (capt), Hogg, Dall. Replacements: Di Ciacca, Brannigan, Perrett, Strokosch, Lawson, Burns, Dickson.

Glasgow: Moffat; Metcalfe, Morrison, Henderson, Lamont; Parks, Pinder; Prescott, Lawson, Proudfoot, Beardshaw, Hall, Dearlove, Petrie, Macfadyen.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)