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GAME EDINBURGH BLOWN AWAY AT SCOTSTOUN

Glasgow Warriors: 34 (20) Edinburgh: 10 (3)



I'm a huge fan of 'Did The Dragons Win?', one of those Twitter accounts that is brutally funny in its honesty.  Generally, of course, the answer is a terse tweeted 'No'.  This afternoon, by contrast, it was an astonishing 'Yes' as Jason 'Stovies' Tovey kicked the points that gave them a first 'away' win since, well, forever to defeat the Scarlets.

The dancing in the streets of Newport was accompanied by some positiviity in the Roseburn area too.  Although Benetton Rugby's subsequent win over Zebre gave them a, frankly, richly deserved third place in PRO14 Conference B, the Gunners still had a shot at a playoff against the Ospreys to secure the final Champions' Cup berth for next season.  Two league points would see them leapfrog the Scarlets to keep hope alive this term.

On the occasion of Hamish Watson's century of appearances for the capital club, the Warriors were also playing for a prize - in their case, a bye and a home tie in the PRO14 playoffs.  A beautiful night at kick off in front of 10,000 fans.  the stage was set for a special evening.

It was certainly a special night for the Warriors.  They comprehensively outplayed, outfought and outcoached the Embramen.  In so doing, they showed the battling qualities and sheer physicality in attack and defence that suggest that this may be their year in the PRO14.  Should they get there, a Glasgow-Leinster final would be an epic encounter between the two best sides in the competition this term.  They were well worth their bonus point win, a top finish in PRO14 Conference A and a home semi-final in the playoffs on the road to Celtic Park.

The Warriors were up early with a Hastings penalty following a Gilchrist infringement. They added a first try through Sam Johnson on nine minutes, sparked by a brilliant piece of work by Niko Matawalu in traffic around halfway, releasing the classy second five-eighth to counter under the posts from distance, having stepped Pyrgos beautifully.

After Glasgow coughed up two penalties in quick succession, giving the Gunners some field position, Hickey narrowed the gap with a straightforward penalty into the wind on 12 minutes.  There was a sense that the Embramen had steadied the ship somewhat, after Glasgow had good pressure in the enemy red zone with repeated phases until Barclay and Dean forced a penalty as Price held on in the tackle and Edinburgh cleared.

But the Warriors scored a fine try on 18 minutes.  Price disrupted an Edinburgh ruck on halfway, allowing Glasgow to turn over.  The ball was spun out to Hogg, who danced through a myriad of defenders to get into open prairie.  He released Price to cruise away from a hirpling Graham to touch down for a 17-3 advantage with only a quarter run as Bennett came on to replace Mr Darcy.  While one wondered whether the Gunners might open up a bit to chase the game, that would be folly against a freewheeling side like the Warriors..

And Matawaulu looked like he might have scored on 24 minutes chasing a brilliant Hogg clearance.  The old school spiral did bounce into touch, but had actually spun back in to play off the artifical turf.  One for the purists.  When they cleared the bvall from the breakdown quickly, the Gunners made inroads into the Glasgow defence, with Barclay and Gilchrist prominent in taking the ball up.  But they really struggled at times to protect the ball from the home counter-ruck.  Hastings kicked another penalty on the half hour after another an Edinburgh attack ended in a turnover.  The Embramen were dominating possession, but Glasgow had been ultra-clinical with their chances.  

And when the Gunners did threaten, with a powerful maul rumble in the home 22 on 35 minutes, Glasgow's defence held strong as the impressive Cummings forced the turnover. In the final minute of the half, Hickey kicked a scrum penalty into the corner and the Gunners mauled again.  But Hastings ripped ball from Dean in defence after he attacked off an advancing maul.  20-3 to the home side at the interval and it was difficult to see anything other than this Edinburgh season ending in a damp squib.

There was a fair bit of honest endeavour from Edinburgh in the early exchanges after the break, although they made little headway.  But the penalty count was mounting against the Warriors and the Hickey kicked another into the corner on 48 minutes.  This time, the maul rumbled and came down just short.  McInally nearly repeated his short range try at this venue earlier in the season.  And the pick and gos began as the Edinburgh pack tried to overpower their opposite numbers.  Glasgow held out at the cost of another penalty and a stern admonishment from referee Adamson to skipper Fraser Brown.  The Gunners really needed to score now to stand any chance of keeping their season alive.

They bashed away at the Glasgow line with the advantage, but still failed to cross.  After kicking to the corner once again on 54 minutes, they moved the ball from the tackle a bit more quickly, probing from wing to wing.  But in the end, when it looked like Duhan van der Merwe might barge his way over in the corner, running over Hogg, he was bundled into touch brilliantly by Hastings. Edinburgh had thrown the kitchen, let alone the kitchen sink, at the Warriors and come up with nothing.  That is championship winning defence.

Inevitably, it was Glasgow who scored next.  A brilliant Matt Fagerson run took them out of danger, then they worked their way up the park with quickfire phases as Mata and Bennett were on the floor injured.  Cummings put in a brilliant, mazy run for a second row to take the ball deep into the Gunners' 22, then Seymour came close before the ball was spun wide and Hastings found Matawalu for a superb score in the left corner.  Hastings slotted the conversion for a 27-3 advantage on the hour. Speed of thought and execution.  Exhilarating.  What a contrast with the desperately laboured Edinburgh attack.

This one looked like it might turn into a real horror show in the final quarter as the game opened up.  Hogg so nearly touched down a smart kick behind the defence by Steyn but Shiel managed to baulk him enough in the chase. 

And the bonus point duly came with an audacious try.  Deep in their 22, the Warriors looked like they were just putting in the phases to run the clock down.  Then George Horne skipped through off a ruck and scooted off.  The replacement scrum half kicked ahead for the supporting Hogg, who gathered the bouncing ball superbly and fed Tommy Seymour to cross.  Hastings' conversion made the margin 34-3 with five minutes left to run.

The last word came from Edinburgh, as Charlie Shiel broke beautifully from the edge of a ruck and made good ground before feeding the supporting van der Merwe, who beat Hogg to cross in the corner, well converted by Hickey to make the final score 34-10 Glasgow.

 

 

 

EARLS BREAKS EMBRA HEARTS

Edinburgh: 13 (10) Munster: 17 (7)

When Edinburgh legend Allan 'Chunk' Jacobsen delivered the match ball before the first half started and when the sun came out at the beginning of the second, I thought that the Embramen were going to win their first Champions Cup knock out match for seven years.  The auguries seemed right.

Yet as the 36,000 crowd were gathering before kick off, someone of a Munster persuasion could easily have felt the same thing about their favourites.  Thousands had travelled from the south west of Ireland and were in good voice from the off.  Maybe they were the men of destiny.

What was clear to all, though, was that this was going to be a desperately tight match, decided by small margins.  And so it proved.  It was a massively physical confrontation of Test match intensity.  Both sides gave their all, as could be seen in the Gunners' players devastation at no side and the unbridled joy of the visitors. 

It was a story of bludgeoning forward

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#LOVINTHESCRUMMIN

Edinburgh: 19 (9) Montpellier Hérault Rugby: 7 (10)

A record for a Heineken pool match of 11,802 scrum fans descended on BT Murrayfield this evening to watch Edinburgh's front row crush their oppositve numbers, laying the foundations for the Gunners' fifth win of the pool.

WP Nel won man of the Match, 'Rambo' McInally comprehensively bested the great Bismarck du Plessis and The Greatest Schoeman chewed up Jannie du Plessis so badly that the former Springbok was hooked after only half an hour.  When the trio were replaced en masse on 70 minutes, they left a trail of devastation behind them.  

There is something beautiful about a dominant scrummage.   It's about rugby's traditional values, about winning the physical confrontation and crushing the enemy psychologically.  I would have been very happy watching these guys scrum all night.

As it was, there were a fair number of set pieces as the visitors' handling frequently let them down.  While JP Doyle is a whistler who is not the most enthusiastic

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