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Edinburgh 16 Glasgow 20: Warriors show the benefit of longer break to steal spoils with late rally

It is far too early to give Glasgow a clean bill of health just yet but the patient rose from the sickbed with this stern and workmanlike win at Murrayfield.

Edinburgh's Jack Cuthbert and Glasgow Warrior Duncan Weir scrap for possession as reinforcements arrive on the scene.Picture:  Craig Watson/SNS Group/SRU
Edinburgh's Jack Cuthbert and Glasgow Warrior Duncan Weir scrap for possession as reinforcements arrive on the scene.Picture: Craig Watson/SNS Group/SRU

After a miserable period, on-field and off, the Warriors finally gave themselves something to celebrate, even if the victory was based on nothing more substantial than the extended rest period they enjoyed - because of the cancellation of Friday's fixture with Benetton Treviso - in the build-up.

Certainly, they looked far fresher and fitter than Edinburgh in the closing stages, when they took a lead they would never lose with a try by Stuart Hogg. It was, though, something of a rope-a-dope display, for they took a lot of punishment in terms of territory and possession before they turned the pattern of the game on its head near the finish.

Glasgow could also count themselves a little fortunate to come out in front at the end of a game in which they had two players sin-binned and suffered injuries that meant a loose forward played in the centre for the final half-hour. It was also a considerable break that Edinburgh's finishing skills deserted them at times, with both Cornell du Preez and Jack Cuthbert butchering chances within a couple of yards of the line.

Still, Glasgow can be elated about maintaining one of the most remarkable records in the sport at them moment. For all that they have wobbled through three consecutive defeats at Scotstoun, Gregor Townsend's side have won all six of their RaboDirect PRO12 away games this season.

There had been a swagger about Edinburgh's backline in the way they shaped their moves against Leinster on Friday and that self-confidence had clearly survived their Christmas break - miniscule as it was - as they carried the ball forward with confidence in the opening quarter.

However, it took a Glasgow error to give Edinburgh their first try. With a lineout deep in their own 22, the Glasgow hooker Pat MacArtur appeared to be taking the safe option with a throw to the front, but Edinburgh pilfered the ball and started to churn it through the phases.

The break came when du Preez popped up in the line to accept a pass from Greig Tonks, and the flanker's pass to Jack Cuthbert allowed the full-back to send Dougie Fife through for the score, his fourth in four consecutive PRO12 games.

Glasgow kept their interest in the game mostly through the boot of Duncan Weir - the fly-half kicked three penalties to one by Greig Laidlaw - to keep Edinburgh's lead down to a single point, 10-9.

However, the portents looked dark for the men from the west when, after repeated infringements and a general warning to both sides, Tyron Holmes was the next to offend at a breakdown and was promptly sent to the sin bin.

Laidlaw added another three points as a result of Holmes's offence, and a ferocious forward drive by the home pack soon afterwards showed that Glasgow were feeling the loss of the flanker.

If that was one measure of the ­fractiousness of the fixture, a more spectacular example followed soon afterwards when Glasgow centre Stuart Hogg and Edinburgh winger Tom Brown tangled on the touchline in the 35th minute and were both yellow-carded for their troubles. Glasgow then slipped further back on the scoreboard, to 16-9, when Laidlaw clipped over another penalty two minutes before the break.

The visitors had also lost Tommy Seymour just before the half-hour; he was replaced by Ruaridh Jackson and, in a reshuffled backline, Jackson went to inside centre, with Hogg, while he was around at least, going out to the wing. Townsend's policy of starting with just two backs on the bench looked suspect - as it has done in the past - when Jackson suffered a head knock early in the second half, a development that forced No.8 Ryan Wilson to make an improbable move to the midfield.

Yet Glasgow unquestionably brought a level of energy into the second half that had been missing from their performance in the first. In truth, it was more obvious in defence than attack, but at least it meant that they got through the third quarter without slipping any further behind. Having come off a poor second best in the earlier exchanges, the Glasgow pack's renewed physicality gave their supporters hope that they could yet steal a result.

Those hopes were boosted when Weir blasted over his fourth penalty in the 50th minute and then his fifth 11 minutes later, to bring Glasgow back to within one point.

Critically, Glasgow had also deve­loped a knack of winning turnovers, and they took the steam out of Edinburgh's attempts to regain control by making sure they never had the ball long enough to do so. And when they robbed the counter-attacking - but badly isolated - Tonks near their 10-metre line, they sensed that their moment had come.

Quickly, Glasgow moved the ball left, with Dougie Hall, Alex Dunbar and Josh Strauss combining to get it into the hands of DTH Van der Merwe. The winger's space was limited, but he unleashed a perfectly weighted kick that bounced invitingly over the Edinburgh try line.

Hogg tuned on the afterburners and accepted the invitation, flopping gleefully on the ball for the try that was to prove decisive.

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