Edinburgh had what they needed for the Guinness PRO14 play-offs before they took the field in front of a record crowd at BT Murrayfield, but they got the win and the 1872 Cup anyway with a deserved 24-19 victory over the Glasgow Warriors.
Three first half tries, including a key score just before the break by Duhan van der Merwe, proved enough for the capital side against the Warriors, for whom DTH van der Merwe scored twice on his 100th appearance for then club.
But Edinburgh’s discipline – they didn’t concede a penalty until well into the second half – and their powerful pack gave them the solid platform, and had they been more clinical early in the second half they could have won by more.
Both sides made late changes, but the real late news was that Edinburgh were in the play-offs before they’d even finished their warm-up.
Ulster, needing a bonus point win to keep their season alive, were held 24-24 by Munster in Limerick meaning the capital club had their reward for their comeback season and a date at Thomond Park next week.
That result came through 15 minutes before kick-off at Murrayfield, with Glasgow making four changes earlier as Tommy Seymour, Sam Johnson and Jonny Gray all dropped out following late fitness tests. The Warriors lost Peter Horne in the warm-up as well, meaning that Alex Dunbar went from not being in the 23 to starting the game in the space of an hour and a half.
Lee Jones and Scott Cummings also came into the Glasgow starting team, while Edinburgh lost Blair Kinghorn to illness and Chris Dean to injury with Jason Harries and Junior Rasolea coming into their XV.
In early exchanges Stuart Hogg nearly broke through down the left while Glasgow haad to scramble after a Hidalgo-Clyne kick escaped DTH van der Merwe, while Finn Russell’s first attempt at a cross kick went straight into Bill Mata’s hands.
However on 12 minutes Russell’s second cross kick was perfectly weighted for van der Merwe to celebrate his 100th appearance for the Warriors by tip-toeing along the touchline and going through Dougie Fife’s tackle for the opening try, the stand-off converting.
Edinburgh struck back with power, when Hogg’s clearance kick went out on the full. Glasgow’s defence appeared to have held initially but a fumble invited two Warriors out of the line and Van de Walt put in James Johnstone for the try.
Hidalgo-Clyne converted but Glasgow responded with a peach of try conjured by Russell and Horne.
First the stand-off sprung Nick Grigg through the line on a short pass and Horne’s brilliant link allowed Russell to take it into the 22 and feed the supporting Callum Gibbins for the score under the posts.
Russell added the two extra points but Edinburgh gradually gained a grip on territory and stunned the Warriors with two tries in the closing six minutes of the half.
Once again a penalty against Glasgow put them under the cosh, and although their close quarter defence looked solid again and the ball squirted out of a ruck at the goal-line Samoan international prop Jordan Lay reacted quickly to pick up and drive over.
Then as time expired Ritchie rescued a loose ball in midfield and Hidalgo-Clyne’s beautifully judged kick caught Lee Jones on his heels, Duhan van der Merwe racing through to pick up and score in the corner.
Hidalgo-Clyne converted both tries for a 21-14 lead for the home side at the break.
Edinburgh continued to dominate possession and territory in the early part of the second half but Glasgow held firm, won a turnover and cleared their lines after surviving a full 15-miniute siege.
But Edinburgh held firm when Glasgow won a series of phases in their 22 and McInally’s interception nearly produced a score at the other end before the Warriors defence regrouped.
But Glasgow infringed as they retreated and Ducnan Weir, on for van der Walt, kicked the first penalty shot at goal in the match to take his side 10 points clear.
The Warriors needed a lift and got it with replacement prop Sio Halunukonuka’s thrilling sprint up the middle and into the Edinbrugh 22, and quick ball allowed Russell to put van der Merwe in for his second try with 11 minutes remaining.
And another replacement Adam Hastings led the next charge and van der Merwe thought he had his hat-trick as he wrenched the ball clear from the ruck and crossed, but Nigel Owens signalled the Warriors had infringed by coming at the side.
Although Glasgow continued to have the upper hand for the final few minutes, they couldn’t force their way through some desperate defence by the home side, who held out for victory.
Edinburgh Rugby: D Fife; J Harries, J Johnstone, J Rasolea, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, S Hidalgo-Clyne; J Lay, S McInally (capt), S Berghan; G Gilchrist, B Toolis; M Bradbury, J Ritchie, V Mata. Replacements: N Cochrane for McInally 67, A Dell for Lay 69, WP Nel for Berghan 54, L Carmichael for Toolis 55, C du Preez for Mata 61, N Fowles for Hidalgo-Clyne 53, D Weir for van der Walt 61, M Bennett for Rasolea 63.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; L Jones, N Grigg, A Dunbar, DTH van der Merwe; F Russell, G Horne; A Allan, F Brown, Z Fagerson; S Cummings, T Swinson; M Fagerson, C Gibbins, R Wilson (capt).
Replacements: G Turner for Brown 63, J Bhatti for Allan 53, S Halunukonuka for Z Fagerson 63, R Harley for Wilson 64, C Fusaro for Cummings 74, H Pyrgos for Horne 61, A Hastings for Dunbar 54, R Jackson for Hogg 68.
Ref: N Owens (WRU)