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Glasgow Warriors:23 (9) Edinburgh: 22 (10)

The words of José Rizal, Filipino polymath and national hero, sprang to many observers' minds as Glasgow Warriors edged this evening's PRO14 encounter at Scotstoun.

After last weekend's icy false start, it was third time lucky as the visiting Embramen faced off against the Warriors in a rainy second leg of the 1872.  An away victory would see the hallowed trophy remain firmly bolted inside the metaphorical Minifield trophy cabinet for a fourth season in a row.  As it turned out, the series was levelled and it'll be all to play for the next time these two sides meet.

Edinburgh were bolstered by the re-signings this week of club legends Hamish 'The Mish' Watson and Future Scotland Captain Jamie (T) Ritchie, while the west coasters had their own boost in the re-signing of the impressive Tom Gordon.  Recent chat about both pro teams has concentrated on high profile departures.  It's understandable that folk are concerned about which direction they are headed - do they return to development team status or kick on to regular contenders?  But sometimes it really is darkest before the dawn.  More fiscal discipline across the world game is inevitably going to be a feature of the Covid aftermath, which should level the financial playing field somewhat.  And both squads are not without world class talent, as Leone Nakarawa's return to action tonight showed.  Meanwhile, Super 6 will take time to bed down as a high standard pinnacle for the domestic game and proving ground for young talent.  But youngsters will only develop if they get game time at pro level and there were five of last season's Under 20 national squad on show this evening.

And ultimately, it was a youngster - first five-eighth Ross Thompson - who added that extra something to Glasgow's game that was enough to see them deservedly squeak over the line.  He was as assured on the park as he was in the post-match interviews and showed the touches that suggest he should mature into a quality operator.  The return to Glasgow of Duncan Weir next season will do him no harm and the Warriors look like they have a long term playmaker who can grow into the role over the next couple of years.

The Warriors duly began with a few other youngsters in the squad, not least debutant Rufus McLean on the wing.  Thompson, the tyro 10, eased himself into this one nicely as he slotted a long penalty with no fuss on four minutes to give the Warriors an early 3-0 advantage.  It was a welcome early score in this fixture after last time.  The home side looked good at the breakdown and won a penalty at the first scrummage, suggesting that the set piece might not be the weapon for the Gunners that it was last time out.  The late withdrawal of 'Big' Ben Toolis, that quaity scrummaging lock, might have been a factor as well as a fired up Warrior pack.  It was all Glasgow in the early exchanges as Edinburgh just could not get out of their own half.  Thompson then doubled the lead with his second three pointer from wide out on 12 minutes, the Glasgow pack having won their second scrum penalty in a row.

As the rain poured down, on the Gunners' first foray into enemy territory, Chris Dean got well over the gainline off first phase ball.  The Sweet Prince's run drew a Glasgow offside and van der Walt nailed the easy penalty on 15 minutes for 6-3.  After early home dominance, Edinburgh were starting to build field position.  But one wondered whether kicking penalties to the corner, rather than taking the points to get the scoreboard ticking over, risked repeating their errors of the Murrayfield match.  No panic yet, but one felt that coach Cockerill would likely deploy the finishers on the bench a little earlier than usual in the second period just to add further impetus to this Edinburgh performance.

On 33 minutes, George Turner was penalised for stepping forward and dipping his shoulder into a charging Grant Gilchrist protecting his kicking half back at the breakdown.  Gilcho was down for some time and the TMO review resulted in a yellow for the hooker.  It was one of those cards that you'd be disappointed if it were given against your own player, but the Embramen took advantage, losing the five metre lineout but forcing McLean to carry over his own line for the attacking scrum five.  One felt that the Gunners really needed to strike while they had this opportunity.  And they duly did.  They probed from wing to wing, looking for the gap in the 14 men defence.  Eventually, Blairhorn timed his pass well to commit his man, then Dean drew his own man and Farndale - a late replacement for Jack Blain on the right wing - crossed in the corner.  Farndale has size and pace and one hopes that he will slot easily into the Duhan-sized gap in the side from next season.  Jaco nailed the conversion brilliantly from the touchline and it was 6-10 Gunners on 38 minutes.  

Groom's timekeeping left something to be desired, to put it kindly, on 39 minutes as he headed towards his own tryline and kicked to touch in his own 22, seemingly deceived by a toot on the horn from a passing train into thinking the clock had gone dead.  While the visitors' defence held firm in the play that followed, they eventually coughed up a penalty and Thompson converted to leave the score finely balanced at the break 9-10. 

The score was probably about right on the balance of play.  But if an observer as mild mannered as myself was spitting feathers at Groom's wholly avoidable gaffe, one wonders what Cockers' demeanour would have been in the dressing room. Nonetheless, with three minutes of the power play left and the advantage of the wind and rain in the second half, Edinburgh should have been looking to turn the screw.  Instead, after a great take of the high ball by 'Big' Bill Mata, The King slung a pass wastefully into touch then an Edinburgh high tackle allowed Glasgow to kick to the Edinburgh corner as Turner re-entered the fray.  The Warriors pounded the line, the Gunners infringed and eventually Matt Fagerson barged over to retake the lead - 16-10 Glasgow with Thompson's fourth successful goal kick of the evening.

On 50 minutes, off first phase, Edinburgh-Bound Huw Jones was unleashed at pace by Thompson.  He made great ground to the Edinburgh five metre line, where van der Walt was pinged and carded for not rolling out of the way at the breakdown.  The Warriors chose to go to the corner and it was Turner who broke off the maul to power over for a second try.  It was 23-10 Glasgow as Thompson maintained his perfect record off the tee with the extras.

But the momentum immediately shifted back to the Embramen as this match started to open up.  WP and The Greatest Schoeman came on to shore up the visiting scrum and WP's 150th appearance sparked a great try.  Off a lineout, Watson's inside flip unleashed a bullocking run by Cherry - if I'm honest, the pass looked a mite forward - then gathered the return and put the supporting Dean over for a superb score, converted by Mark Bennett to narrow the gap to 23-17.

And Edinburgh were immediately on the hunt around the Glasgow 22, upping the pace despite their numerical disadvantage.  Eventually, Blairhorn kicked behind the defence, forcing Jones to carry into touch as van der Walt returned and Pyrgos entered the fray.  From the lineout, it looked like a great forward's try, but Schoemen was pinged for a double movement as he crossed, a little white line fever denying the Gunners a likely score.  And on the hour, the very welcome return of Leone Nakarawa to the Glasgow team after nearly a year as the great man replaced the rejuvenated Ritchie Gray.

The King was then far too casual in defence, a languid attempt at a clearance kick blocked to set up attacking phases for Glasgow in Edinburgh's 22.  It was the latest in a series of mental lapses from the visitors, no doubt partly down to the stop-start nature of the season so far.  But WP was 150% focused, as always, forcing a scrum penalty to give Blairhorn the chance to redeem himself with a massive kick to half way in this finely balanced affair.  

With the match into the final 10 minutes, the twinkling toes of Huw Jones almost broke open the Gunners' defence.  While a wild pass by Price gave them a lineout from which Pyrgos cleared well, Edinburgh desperately needed field position to create the scoring chance.  And a trademark Bennett step on halfway opened up wide open prairie for the centre to make a brilliant break deep into Warrior territory.  Huw Jones then wasn't so much Edinburgh-bound as bin-bound as he was carded for killing the ball under pressure.  Jaco kicked to the corner to set up a series of attacking phases in the last five minutes.  With referee Adamson playing advantage fro Glasgow offside, it looked like The Sweet Prince had carried two defenders over in the corner but he had just stepped into touch.  Edinburgh's five metre scrummage, Warriors down to 14, three minutes left to run and this one could go either way.

In the exact same spot as Dean, Eroni 'The Sledgehammer' Sau bullocked his way over, keeping his feet in play, to cross in the corner.  It capped a strong evening for the winger and left a real nail biter for Jaco in the final minute.  But the conversion effort just drifted wide.   While the restart had to be taken, the Warriors won the ball and Thompson crowned his Man of the Match with a long effort at goal from a penalty deep into injury time.  Although, for once, he missed the target, the ball went dead and the Warriors ran out deserved victors.