Glasgow Warriors won the opening leg of the Greaves 1872 Cup derbies with a well deserved 25-12 win over city rivals Edinburgh in front of a sell out Firhill crowd.
Despite dominating the first-half, the sides were separated by just three points at the break as the host’s indiscipline offered kicking opportunities to Edinburgh on each of the rare occasions they entered the Glasgow half.
However after the break Glasgow got the deserved try through man of the match Richie Vernon and Dan Parks, whose kicking saw him reach and breach 1,000 points in the Magners League, continued his flawless kicking display to see out the match.
Speaking after the match, Warriors head coach Sean Lineen, said: “What a fantastic result. The boys went about it the right way. I thought the back-row were outstanding as did Dan Parks who kicked everything and got over the 1000 point landmark.
“There was a real battle in the contact area with neither team giving away easy ball. We wanted to win but we also wanted to win the right way.”
Parks opened the scoring after three minutes with a penalty from nearside touchline however Edinburgh full-back Chris Paterson tied the scores with an equally difficult effort from out wide just two minutes later before parks reclaimed the lead once more with a simple kicks from in front of the posts as Glasgow dominated the opening exchanges.
The first try opportunity went to Glasgow following a great move off the match’s first scrum.
Parks received and fed the ball back to Cusiter who raced out wide, dodged several tackles and made a break for the try line only to be forced into touch a few feet from the try line.
Glasgow continued to pile on the pressure, stole Edinburgh’s lineout and spun the ball to the other flank only to be pushed out a few feet away on the other opposite touchline before Edinburgh were penalised for foul play and Glasgow opted for the points.
Parks sent the ball through the sticks from the touchline, 9-3.
Celtic Rugby presented Dan Parks with a glass boot on the occasion of reaching his 1,000th Magners League point.
Despite Glasgow’s dominance they let Edinburgh back into the game with an infringement inside their 22 and Paterson made no mistake with the kick though to the delight of the capacity crowd Glasgow got straight back to business and powered their way back up the pitch, Richie Vernon looking impressive early on.
The young number eight made the most of a small gap and dragged a few of the visitors with him before the first real try opportunity arose.
Following Vernon’s charge, the Glasgow pack piled across the try line but the TMO evidence was inconclusive and the try was not awarded.
Disappointingly for Glasgow, joint Scotland captain and scrum-half Chris Cusiter was forced off after picking up a knock and was replaced by Colin Gregor.
Five minutes from the interval, Parks slotted a huge kick from half way to stretch the home side’s lead only for Glasgow to hand Paterson another shot at the sticks in the latest rare run in Glasgow territory, 12-9.
Glasgow again crashed their way back into the Edinburgh half and worked the ball into their half but spilled ball 10 metres from the posts – a rushed Phil Godman sliced his clearance kick and offered Glasgow a dangerous lineout deep in their half.
The Glasgow forwards pounded into the resolute Edinburgh defense, who had so far done well to keep the hosts at bay so, with the interval just minutes away Glasgow played it safe and sent the ball back to Parks who slotted the drop goal with ease.
The tit for tat nature continued when Glasgow again gifted Edinburgh another penalty which Paterson slotted before the stroke of half time.
Half time: 15-12
Edinburgh coach Rob Moffat brought Jim Hamilton on for Steven Turnbull at the break a change which, accompanied by the half time team talk, improved Edinburgh’s efforts early in the half.
The visitors built on some good phases and worked the ball into Glasgow’s half but Paterson could not match Parks’ drop goal effort – handing possession back to Glasgow.
After seven minutes of the second-half Kyle Traynor took to the field for Allan Jacobsen.
Glasgow’s early threats of a try finally came to fruition a minute later. The ball found Vernon out wide deep in Edinburgh’s 22 with flying winger, Thom Evans. outside him.
The pacey number eight used his outside man as a decoy and gassed in between two opposing defenders to cross the line despite the outstretched efforts to bring him down.
Parks made it six from six from six with the conversion and a penalty to put the Warriors comfortably ahead, 25-12.
Moments later Glasgow were penalised for holding in what looked like yet another penalty offering to their opponents but the visitors opted for the touchline only to lose the lineout to the pressurising Glasgow .
Edinburgh then replaced Nick De Luca with mark Robertson (moving John Houston to centre) and bringing Fraser Mckenzie on for David Callam (with Scott Newlands moving to number eight).
Glasgow were again penalised for being offside in their 22 but a rare miss form Paterson meant the score remained unchanged before more changes were made to the sides with Glasgow’s Kevin Tkachuk, Fergus Thomson, Dan Turner and Colin Shaw coming on from Jon Welsh , Dougie Hall, Richie Gray and DTH Van der Merwe while Edinburgh replaced Chris Paterson and Greig Laidlaw with Jim Thompson and Ross Samson.
Edinburgh awarded a penalty for another Glasgow offside offence but, with less than ten minutes left, the multi-coloured men opted for the lineout and heaped the pressure on the Glasgow defense.
Repeated forwarded pick and goes saw Edinburgh crash over the try line only for the tenacious home defensive to hold the ball up, turn over the restarted play and kick the ball to safety.
Further changes were made with three minutes remaining with Sean Crombie, Hefin O’Hare and Johnnie Beattie replacing Ross Ford, Thom Evans, Richie Vernon who all helped Glasgow see out the win.
Looking ahead to the return leg at Murrayfield on Saturday 2 January (kick-off 3.05pm), Lineen added: We know tough it’s going to at Murrayfield – it’s going to be another massive contest
“We’re not going across to make the numbers up. The guys like playing at Murrayfield but we know how much Edinburgh will be hurting.
“We’re getting more consistent – we controlled the lineout and dominated their ball.”
Full time: 25-12
Man of the match: Richie Vernon