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Glasgow Warriors: 15 (15) Edinburgh:30 (13)

Like others, I'm sure, I was startled earlier this week to receive a call from Pierre Schoeman.  The scrummaging sensation was undertaking a customer feedback exercise as his new business, The Proper Pioneer, gets off the ground.  My own biltong purchase has certainly boosted my homeworking performance.  I could eat this stuff all day. I am now seeking out WP Nel's culinary venture, Vetkoek Paleis Scotland, to complete the set of Edinburgh's front row foodstuffs.

Although The Greatest Schoeman has clearly put all his characteristic energy and commitment into his commercial venture, he and the rest of the Embramen have obviously not stinted in their preparations for the resumption of this strange 2019/20 season either.  While, inevitably, there was a whiff of pre-season rust about yesterday evening's final 1872 Cup tie at BT Murrayfield, a powerful 'away' performance saw the Gunners weather the first half storm then ease away in the final quarter to cruise into the PRO14 semi-finals, a mere one point shy of securing home advantage.

And it was their half backs who did the damage on the scoreboard.  Man of the Match 'Piet' van der Walt kicked 15 points, while Nic Groom notched two tries and Charlie 'Chico' Shiel a third.  These are strange and challenging times for us all.  We are scrambling to cope with a genuinely unprecedented situation and long term plans - for now, at any rate - are on hold.  Resources are tight at the SRU and both Edinburgh and Glasgow have had to change their recruitment plans to fit. 

Yet there are signs that cost pressures have driven unexpected positives.  I long for the day when Edinburgh-bound Huw Jones is once again slicing through enemy defences in a Scotland shirt.  But thrust into the unfamiliar role of full back, he coped so well that he may have added another string to his bow. Equally, Shiel's fine cameo performance off the bench underlined the quality that the Embramen have at scrum half; Jamie Hodgson, an early replacement for the unfortunate Andrew Davidson, showcased the tremendous depth that they boast at lock; and it is a frightening prospect for any front row to see that genuine Lions contender, Rory Sutherland, and WP Nel leave the park, only to be replaced by Schoeman and Simon 'Ice' Berghan.

The new interpretation of the breakdown, though largely about correctly applying the laws that were already in place, is still bedding in.  It has certainly led to more penalties in Super Rugby and the English premiership and the Warriors duly conceded a hefty 20 over the piece.  What we did see as a result was a genuine competition for the ball on the floor, with Hamish Watson and Stuart 'Rambo' McInally prominent in giving the Embramen a crucial edge.  And it was in unstructured play that the Gunners scored two fine tries.  It felt, too, that there were fewer mauls in what was a match played at pace, particularly in the second half.

In the early exchanges, Glasgow's travails on the floor led to two van der Walt penalties.  But the Warriors steadied the ship with a Hastings penalty then a fine try for Pete Horne, running a great line to cross after ball had been shifted quickly off a close-in drive from Brown.  The Glasgow first five-eighth shares his father's sang froid under pressure, but there is also an endearing cockiness about him.  It looked like a playful wee dig at McInally following the try provoked the Edinburgh captain to loose his cool, coughing up a penalty from half way to Glasgow.  Although that led to nothing, there was a sense that the momentum was shifting to the Warriors.  They were certainly looking the more dangerous in attack.

But it was the Gunners who scored next.  At first, they pummeled the Glasgow line ponderously from close range, then upped the tempo, moved the point of attack and Groom was on hand to dive over to retake the lead 10-13 on 30 minutes.  The Warriors hit back quickly, though, from a similar position.  This time it was Hastings who took advantage of the spadework of his tight five, a half dummy was enough to unlock enough space between defenders to cross, leaving the score finely balanced at 15-13 Glasgow at the break.  

Duhan van der Merwe had been relatively quiet for the first hour, then exploded into this match.  A powerful run through defenders around half way was a warning sign.  Then the powerful winger dealt the crucial blow.  In a flowing Edinburgh attack off turnover ball, van der Merwe skipped through and around would-be tacklers, holding the ball in one hand, making it deep into the 22 before offloading smartly to Groom, running a classic half back's supporting line for his brace.  Earlier in the set, there had been encouraging breaks from Blairhorn and Bennett as the Embramen played with pace and invention.  The try and conversion got the Gunners' noses back in front before van der Walt knocked over his third penalty to stretch the lead to eight.  Suddenly, the Warriors had a mountain to climb and Edinburgh were looking comfortable.

The coup de grace was administered late on.  Shiel had looked frisky since he entered the fray and set off on a mazy run from just inside the Glasgow half.  Three beaten defenders and an injection of gas later, he was crossing for the third Embra try, van der Walt adding the extras for a final score of 15-30 Edinburgh.  A comfortable margin in the end, but the Warriors had certainly not been treating this match as anything other than a full blown derby.

Not everything clicked for Edinburgh last night.  Far from it.  But there was enough there to suggest that they have hit the ground running at three quarter pace and should have reached top speed when the semi-final comes.

Next Friday evening's return match at BT Murrayfield gives the Gunners a chance to secure at least the bonus point they need to secure a home semi-final.   With Glasgow's chances of playoff rugby now over, and an imperative to try out combinations for the forthcoming 2020/21 season, that should be eminently achievable.  But there will still be plenty of blood, snotters and, indeed, pride at stake.  The fortunate 700 spectators who will be permitted to attend will be treated to another classic derby match where form could well be out the window.  For now, though, Edinburgh have officially retained the 1872 Cup for the third year in a row and are shaping up nicely for the knock out stages in PRO14 and Challenge Cup competitions.