The Glasgow Warriors were clinical and efficient in securing their first 1872 Cup win in two years scoring three tries to nil against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield in the Boxing Day derby.
Apart from the first half hour when their indiscipline had them under pressure and the occasional wobble in the scrum, the Warriors bossed the rest of the game and took most of their scoring chances for tries from Junior Bulumakau, Josh Strauss and Alex Dunbar.
Captain Jonny Gray was a deserved man of the match for his usual industrious display and his influence on the Warriors’ outstanding mauling game, which caused Edinburgh all sorts of problems, while the in-form Finn Russell had a more mixed game but was influential when it mattered.
Edinburgh had cause to rue a series of prime attacking positions in the first half hour which brought only two Duncan Weir penalties, and the former Warrior stand-off produced all their points with four successes from the tee.
Gregor Townsend praised his side’s patience and resilience in recovering from early setbacks to assume control of the game.
“The turning point was definitely the yellow card against Alex (Allan) because we sorted out indiscipline and defended resolutely from that situation, then when he returned we scored a few points to take charge,” he said.
“After three defeats in a row against Edinburgh to come here and win by 13 points is very pleasing. I think our third try involved something like 30 phases which shows great patience and control, and there was great skill for the finish as well.”
Edinburgh acting head coach Duncan Hodge bemoaned his side’s failure to capitalise on the attacking ball they did enjoy.
“We had some pressure and possession but we just couldn’t turn it into points,” he said. “We were scoring penalties but they were scoring tries to open a gap on us.
“After losing a try in the first minute, we played okay for 20 minutes but couldn’t quite get away from them; six penalties in a row and a yellow card against them and we get six points, then it’s reversed with four penalties against us and they score ten.”
Glasgow got a gift on their first play, then surrendered the initiative with indiscipline, only to wrest it back decisively before the break.
Barely minute had been played when the impressive Brian Alainu’uese stole a lineout, Dunbar’s long kick had Edinburgh exposed in defence and Blair Kinghorn saw the ball squirt from his grasp as he slid to retrieve it, Bulumakau marking his first start by falling on the ball in the in-goal area.
Russell missed the conversion and Edinburgh edged their way back thanks to a flurry of penalties against the Warriors that had the visiting coaching team vocally complaining from their seats in the Murrayfield press box.
However although Weir landed two of them to take his side into the lead, Edinburgh failed to capitalise on the attacking lineout ball from several other penalties in their favour and a sin-binning for prop Alex Allan as referee Ian Davies lost patience.
But Glasgow stiffened in defence and when Allan returned with Edinburgh still ahead only 6-5, they snatched control of the game in the dying minutes of the half.
Glasgow’s first attacking lineout in the Edinburgh 22 brought immediate reward with a well-drilled drive finished off for the try by Strauss, Russell converting.
Then Mark Bennett made clean break into the 22 only to be felled by the scrambling defence, although Edinburgh infringed as they retreated and Russell booted his side 15-6 in front with the penalty.
Glasgow kept Edinburgh in with a shout with a series of errors to start the second half, Russell missing touch with a penalty, then missing a fairly simple one from the tee, and Fraser Brown’s squint throw in his own 22.
Edinburgh won a penalty from the scrum and Weir kicked them closer, but then Russell restored the margin when, as the ball fell off the tee as he moved towards it to attempt a penalty, the Scotland stand-off cooly picked the ball up and dropped a goal.
Again Weir kicked Edinburgh to a six point deficit after Magnus Bradbury almost got through, but Gray’s charge down of a Weir clearance kick established the bridgehead for the Warriors to close out the contest.
The Warriors had to be patient through multiple attacking phases against a tenacious defence, but they finished in style with successive off-loads from Russell, Alainu’uese and replacement Sean Lamont allowed Dunbar to stroll over at the corner, Russell converting.
Edinburgh nearly broke through on the last play of the game after Damien Hoyland charged through but replacement Bill Mata was held up under the posts as time expired.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, S Berghan; G Gilchrist, B Toolis; M Bradbury, H Watson, C du Preez.
Replacements: S McInally for Ford 69, A Dell for Dickinson 33, F McKenzie for Gilchrist 59, V Mata for du Preez 59, S Kennedy for Hidlalgo-Clyne 69, J Tovey for Weir 69, G Bryce for Burleigh 72.
Glasgow: S Hogg; J Bulumakau, M Bennett, A Dunbar, L Jones; F Russell, H Pyrgos; A Allan, F Brown, Z Fagerson; B Alainu’uese, J Gray; R Harley, S Favaro, J Strauss.
Replacements: P MacArthur for Brown 56, R Grant, S Puafisi for Fagerson 50, A Ashe for Strauss 60, C Fusaro for Favaro 46, A Price for Pyrgos 68, S Lamont for Jones 59.
Ref: I Davies (WRU)