Edinburgh v Glasgow was no classic and Richard Cockerill jokes he’ll email Premier Sports for a refund
Richard Cockerill joked he’d be emailing Premier Sports for a refund and it’s safe to say no-one will be waiting for the DVD release of Saturday’s first 1872 Cup clash of the season.
Edinburgh edged it 10-7 in the end but it took until the 65th minute for points to be scored at Murrayfield.
The sides will do it all again on Friday when Glasgow will have home advantage and it can only be hoped that round two provides a bit more entertainment.
But there are no points for artistic merit in rugby and Cockerill was understandably delighted to take the win and build on the momentum of the European victory over Sale last month.
The Edinburgh coach was particularly pleased with the way his side exerted their authority over the scrum. Less so at the lineout, an area he will work on this week.
For Glasgow, there was the consolation of a losing bonus point and a performance which hinted at better times ahead. The return of Richie Gray was a welcome sight which augurs well for club and country. Huw Jones also posed a threat with ball in hand in a match of few opportunities.
Ultimately, though, it was Edinburgh’s day and Magnus Bradbury picked an opportune moment to score his first try since the titanic Calcutta Cup draw at Twickenham in 2019, stepping off the bench to stretch Edinburgh’s lead in a tight but turgid encounter.
The home forward was quickest out the traps as Jaco van der Walt hacked on following a loose pass by Warriors stand-off Brandon Thomson. Bradbury dived on the ball and then had to wait an agonising few seconds while referee Sam Grove-White checked to see if the score was good.
It was, but not everyone was convinced. Injured Glasgow captain Fraser Brown, on co-commentary duties for Radio Scotland, felt Bradbury had not exerted the required downward pressure. The Edinburgh back-row certainly seemed to miss the ball with his hands but appeared to make contact with his midriff.
Bradbury joked that he had stolen the try from under the nose of van der Walt but the back-rower showed an impressive turn of pace to get there first.
“It was a tough game – but right place at the right time for me,” said Bradbury. “They [the coaches] just said to me to bring some energy when I came on and I ended up in the right slot, so all good.
“You don’t want to go on thinking, ‘I’m going to be the one to win this game’, because that’s when you’ll mess it up – well, personally, that’s what I’m thinking. So the way I look at it is to go on and bring some energy to the guys who might be tiring, and try to gee them up, so that if we keep playing our strategy then that will hopefully deliver some points.”
It worked out perfectly. The 69th-minute try put Edinburgh 8-0 ahead following on from van der Walt’s penalty four minutes earlier and the stand-off added the conversion to make it 10-0. Glasgow scored a late converted try through substitute Lewis Bean but there was not enough time to rescue the match.
Bradbury had pressured Thomson into the mistake which led to his try, forcing the Glasgow stand-off to rush his pass to Sam Johnson. The ball went over the inside centre’s head, and van der Walt stepped in to boot it upfield.
It capped a fairly miserable afternoon for the Warriors No 10 who was guilty of a bad penalty miss in the first half. Coming so soon after his fluffed match-winning attempt from in front of the posts against Dragons, it’s perhaps time to relieve Thomson of place-kicking duties.
With chances few and far between Glasgow could ill afford to squander such a gilt-edged opportunity in a match that failed to achieve any fluency.
Both coaches mentioned the greasy surface, and the freezing conditions also made handling difficult. The absence of spectators didn’t help either and as the clock ticked past the hour mark it was tempting to wonder if anyone was going to be able to break the deadlock.
“If it had been 0-0 I’d have been emailing Premier Sports to get my subscription back,” said Cockerill archly.
On a more serious note, the Edinburgh coach was less than impressed with how the scrums were policed by Mr Grove-White. Cockerill felt Glasgow got away with too much and will make that point in his report.
“I’ll have to look at it in a little more detail, but they were penalised seven times at the scrum, and they were given a final warning at scrum time before half-time,” said the capital coach. “And there were still scrums after that that were penalised and no consequence for that.
“But it’s not for me to decide that, is it? I’ll review it and I’ll do my feedback as I do normally to the officials, and we go into next week and we’ve just got to keep improving our game.
“Saturday night was about winning. That’s the one thing that we’re learning to do: even when it’s ugly, we’re winning games. We had lost that a little bit, but the last two games we found ways to win against good sides.
“I thought Glasgow were good. They played well. I know they’ve got guys missing, but haven’t we all?”
The Warriors were without 14 due to injuries and Covid-related issues and while their starting XV had a look of strength about it, the bench looked short on experience. Having said that, it was two substitutes who scored their points. Bean, their on-loan lock forward, barged his way over from close range at the death and replacement stand-off Ross Thompson converted on his Glasgow debut.
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