Pro14Edinburgh (3) 18Tries: Fowles, Dean Con: Van der Walt Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne 2Glasgow Warriors (7) 17Tries: Jones, Cummings Cons: Horne, Russell Pen: Horne
Edinburgh overcame a sixth-minute red card and scored a last-gasp try to inflict a first Pro14 defeat of the season on rivals Glasgow Warriors.
Tries by Huw Jones and Scott Cummings in either half looked to have put Glasgow on course for victory after home prop Simon Berghan’s dismissal for a stamp to Fraser Brown’s head.
But replacement Nathan Fowles scored to keep dogged Edinburgh in touch.
Chris Dean then scampered over in the 79th minute to snatch a remarkable win.
There was a huge sense of anticipation before this game, an energy created by an Edinburgh side revitalised by Richard Cockerill and the visitors from Glasgow who had won 10 out of 10 in the Pro14. A big crowd, a perfect pitch and ideal weather. Everything was set up for a classic.
When Glasgow cut Edinburgh open with some deception behind a maul that put Tommy Seymour into space who found Jones in even more space, the visitors landed an early blow. Jones ran away to score, Peter Horne converted and things were bubbling nicely.
Four minutes later, there was the drama of the red card. Berghan, behaving like some kind of pantomime baddie, kicked out in a ruck and caught Brown in the head. Referee Frank Murphy, after advice from his TMO, saw it as a deliberate act by the tight-head, who had been “looking down [at Brown] and knew what he was doing.”
The red card was unarguable and you’d have lumped every last penny on a Glasgow win at that point. Seventy four minutes with only 14 men? Against a ruthless side like Dave Rennie’s unbeaten Warriors? Fanciful. Impossible.
Hamish Watson, as opposed to Cornell du Preez or Viliame Mata, had to make way for Matt Shields, the prop, which was a surprise call by Cockerill given Watson’s fantastic engine. It worked, though. Edinburgh defended sensationally for the rest of the night.
Glasgow were shocking, it has to be said. For the last five minutes of the half, they were camped on Edinburgh’s five-metre line, winning penalty after penalty and calling for scrum and after scrum, yet the visitors could not summon the wit to score.
This was not the Glasgow we were used to seeing. There was no ambition, no accuracy, no tempo. Finn Russell was sitting on the bench and how the game missed his devilment. It was Glasgow in name only; predictable and plodding. Even when Russell came on, they couldn’t find themselves.
Horne booted a penalty to make it 10-3 just after the break, a score that was quickly followed by Russell’s introduction. Edinburgh, playing with serious grit and line speed in defence, managed to pull it back to 10-6 with a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty.
Close to the hour, though, it looked like Glasgow had kicked for home with a second try. A line-out maul drove straight through Edinburgh and Cummings got the score. Russell smacked over the conversion to make it an 11-point game. For the 14 men, it looked like curtains.
Not true. Edinburgh’s character and Glasgow’s myriad problems in execution kept the game alive. Glasgow couldn’t keep hold of the ball, couldn’t ask questions of Edinburgh, couldn’t finish the few chances they created.
All the while, Edinburgh’s belief kept rising. It seemed impossible, but the longer the game went on, the more it looked like Cockerill’s side were going to win it. They had an intensity that Glasgow didn’t possess on the night.
Glasgow’s main weakness this season – evident mostly in Europe – has been a fragility in defending their line from close-range mauls, and we saw it again here, big-time. A soft penalty gave Edinburgh the field position to launch their drive, which was duly collapsed by Glasgow, and there could have been a penalty try and a yellow card right there.
Murphy played on – and still Edinburgh scored, Nathan Fowles sniping his way over. Jaco van der Walt popped over the conversion and now it was 17-13. Edinburgh, incredibly, had the momentum.
And then they had the victory. Another maul, another implosion by Glasgow. When the maul got halted, Glasgow stopped still, as if transfixed. In the moment, Dean whipped around the side and went over in the corner.
Edinburgh had their win, miraculous and deserved. Glasgow thought they had it won when Berghan walked, but the endgame was dramatic. Their winning run has gone. For Edinburgh, and Cockerill, a win against all odds, a day to savour.
Edinburgh: Kinghorn; Fife, Johnstone, Burleigh, Van der Merwe; Van der Walt, Hidalgo-Clyne; Sutherland, McInally (capt), Berghan, Toolis, Gilchrist, Mata, Watson, Du Preez.
Replacements: Cochrane, McCallum, Shields, Carmichael, Ritchie, Fowles, Dean, Graham.
Glasgow Warriors: Jackson; Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Jones; Horne, Price; Bhatti, Brown, Fagerson, Cummings, Gray (capt), Harley, Smith, Vunisa.
Replacements: MacArthur, Kebble, Halanukonuka, McDonald, Fusaro, Prygos, Russell, Matawalu.