Edinburgh produced a major shock in shrugging off a red card after just five minutes of the 1872 Cup first leg to score a last minute try and inflict Glasgow Warriors’ first Guinness PRO14 defeat of the season.
Chris Dean’s score in the dying minutes was all that Edinburgh deserved after suffering the loss of a second minute try compounded when Simon Berghan was shown a red card for stamping on Fraser Brown’s head just five minutes in.
But Glasgow never exerted the authority of their man advantage, and even after they led 17-6 going into the last quarter, Edinburgh’s tenacity, particularly in their smothering defence, turning the tide in the home side’s favour.
A try by Nathan Fowles off one driving maul got them back within range and Glasgow were hanging on by their fingernails before another drive ended with Dean sneaking off the back to score the clincher.
Glasgow sliced open the Edinburgh defence after just two minutes for Huw Jones’ try but never showed the same kind of execution for the rest of the game. They missed several chances to pad their lead just before half-time and even Scott Cummings’ score midway through the second half failed to settle them.
It was the Warriors’ first defeat in the league this season but their third loss in a row, and they looked a weary and spent bunch against the 14-man home side in the crucial final minutes.
The atmosphere in the record 23,000 crowd evaporated when Glasgow scored for the second year in a row at Murrayfield before two minutes had been played.
Samu Vunisa had made a strong carry from the kick off winning a penalty, Glasgow kicked to the line and after their driven maul stalled, they slashed a huge hole in the home defence.
Tommy Seymour made a trademark blindside run on to a short ball from Ali Price and broke the line untouched, picking out Jones with a miss-pass to allow the Scotland centre to saunter in and continue his outstanding try-scoring record at Murrayfield.
Pete Horne converted and worse was to come to Edinburgh when they thought they had a penalty at a ruck in easy kicking range after a big carry from Hamish Watson.
However the TMO intervened and replays eventually showed Berghan clearly stamping on Fraser Brown’s head, and referee Frank Murphy had no option but to show the prop a red card.
That seemed to sucked the life right out of the contest, with the game degenerating into ineffective mauls and some aimless kicking before Glasgow were penalised for contesting off their feet and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne kicked a simple penalty.
Despite their man advantage, the Warriors still weren’t making much impact on the quick-engaging Edinburgh defence and Jaco van der Walt made the best break of a poor half-hour’s play but fumbled as he tried to get around Seymour.
Glasgow instead should have got to half-time in control when a blown lineout gave them a perfect attacking platform in the Edinburgh 22, but they couldn’t control a scrum push, failed to get a lineout drive moving and eventually Alex Dunbar’s fumble in midfield allowed Edinburgh to escape to the dressing room just 7-3 down.
The teams exchanged early penalties from Horne and Hidalgo-Clyne at the start of the second half before Glasgow scored what looked like a decisive try on 56 minutes.
A scrum penalty on halfway allowed Finn Russell, on for Dunbar, to peg Edinburgh on their own five yard line and when they tried to induce an obstruction penalty by not contesting the lineout drive, Scott Cummings simply drove through almost untouched, Russell converting.
But Edinburgh refused to lie down, and within five minutes had their own lineout drive, having the penalty advantage before replacement scrum-half Nathan Fowles darted over, van der Walt converting.
And despite being a man down, Edinburgh seemed to have the greater energy in the last quarter as Glasgow’s few chances with the ball ended with poor passes or dropped balls.
And with two minutes left and the Warriors visibly wilting, Edinburgh got a lineout drive moving and replacement Dean nipped off the back to score in the corner.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Fife, J Johnstone, P Burleigh, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, S Hidalgo-Clyne; R Sutherland, S McInally (capt), S Berghan; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; V Mata, H Watson, C du Preez. Replacements: N Cochrane for McInally 72, M McCallum for Sutherland 48, M Shields for Watson 10, L Carmichael for Du Preez 68, J Ritchie for Fife 50, N Fowles for Hidalgo-Clyne 55, C Dean for Burleigh 64, D Graham from Van der Merwe 68.
Glasgow: R Jackson; T Seymour, H Jones, A Dunbar, L Jones; P Horne, A Price; J Bhatti, F Brown, Z Fagerson; J Gray (capt), S Cummings; R Harley, M Smith, S Vunisa. Replacements: P MacArthur, O Kebble for Bhatti 50, S Halanukonuka for Fagerson 49, K McDonald for Cummings 78, C Fusaro for Vunisa 62, H Pyrgos for Price 59, F Russell for Dunbar 49, N Matawalu for Seymour 50.
Ref: F Murphy (IRFU)