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Edinburgh 17 Glasgow 21: On easy street

Who says scoreboards don't lie?

Ruaridh Jackson heads off to celebrate after touching down for Glasgow's second try Photograph: Stewart Attwood
Ruaridh Jackson heads off to celebrate after touching down for Glasgow's second try Photograph: Stewart Attwood

The truth of this match was that Edinburgh were beaten by a street, not the squeak suggested by the numbers at the end. They were blasted out of the breakdowns and slaughtered in the scrums in the second match of the 1872 Cup double-header yesterday, and had Glasgow shown a little more composure near the line the margin would have been far greater.

But on the basis that coaches always like to have some material to work with, Glasgow's Gregor Townsend was a pretty satisfied fellow at the finish. His side had played smart, heads-up rugby to capitalise on the stream of errors Edinburgh made, but he will still be able to give them a going over when the y gather ahead of next weekend's game against Treviso.

Stuart Hogg's body language will be interesting in that meeting if video highlights are shown. Midway through the second half, the full-back produced one of the greatest howlers ever when he dropped the ball over the line after some fantastic work in the build-up by DTH Van der Merwe.

Hogg's gaffe will no doubt find its way on to some rugby bloopers reels, but there was little to laugh about in the fact it cost his side a potentially precious bonus point. "I'm very happy," Townsend said. "We knew Edinburgh would come out with all guns blazing. The pitch suited their attacking style, so for us to get three tries was great, and to retain the cup was excellent. We were disappointed that we didn't get the fourth try. But it's pleasing to score six tries over the two legs. The backs were getting on the ball well today and creating a lot of opportunities. The pulse rate went up towards the end, but we had a good defence."

Victory gave Glasgow the 1872 Cup for the fourth year in succession and by an aggregate scoreline of 44-24. Their best players stood head and shoulders above their capital counterparts, particularly in the pack. Too many Edinburgh players were anonymous, and coach Michael Bradley admitted the scoreline was an absurd reflection of the game as a whole, saying an Edinburgh victory would have been "the greatest steal of all time".

However, his greater concern should be with players like Dave Denton and Greig Laidlaw, cornerstones of last year's Heineken Cup run but seriously out of sorts at the moment. By contrast, Glasgow's best players all seem to be hitting form at the moment. Ryan Grant virtually cemented himself into the Scotland loosehead position with his performance in the scrum and loose, while Moray Low, on the other side of the front row, has rediscovered the power he was showing a couple of seasons ago. In the back row, Josh Strauss and Ryan Wilson were immense, while Rob Harley put in a tidy shift in his unfamiliar openside berth.

Glasgow might have expected an early onslaught from Edinburgh; instead, they produced their own. They may have been lucky to regain possession after making a hash of a line-out on the right, but they used the bounty superbly, moved the ball across the width of the pitch, and sent Sean Maitland hurtling over for his first try since moving from New Zealand two months ago.

Laidlaw regained a little ground with a penalty after Hogg's late challenge on Greig Tonks. Glasgow's discipline also cost them when Al Kellock was penalised for talking back to the referee and Peter Horne was sin-binned for taking out Matt Scott off the ball.

In other regards, though, they had their heads screwed on. Ruaridh Jackson was wonderfully alert in the 29th minute when, after a half-break by Laidlaw, he read Piers Francis's attempted offload to Netani Talei brilliantly and scuttled 60 metres up the pitch to collect Glasgow's second try. Soon afterwards, they could have had a third through Dougie Hall, but for reasons that left Townsend mystified referee Neil Paterson disallowed the effort.

Still, Glasgow had a 10-3 lead at that point, and they stretched it with two calm penalties by Horne. Their 16-3 advantage interval was just one short of what they had in the first leg at Scotstoun last weekend, but Glasgow were far more alert in the third quarter this time, keeping Edinburgh out until Roddy Grant drove over for their first try just short of the hour.

Hogg contributed his howler a few minutes later, and alarm bells really started to ring for Glasgow with five minutes left when Tim Visser raced over in the left corner for his 48th RaboDirect PRO12 try, equalling Tommy Bowe's record. Suddenly, Edinburgh were in bonus-point territory, but Glasgow closed out the win cleverly, nursing the ball as if it was a first-born child.

They took the cup gleefully, and with only a hint of relief on their faces.

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