SCRUM Web Columnist ‘The Embra Express’ finally has something to smile about from an Edinburgh point of view:
‘As long as we beat the English, we don’t care.’
Last weekend’s Inter-City reminded me of the above line from a Stereophonics song.
The wonders of Google confirm that it was indeed written prior to Wales’ extraordinary victory over England at Wembley in 1999. This led to Scotland becoming the final – and, strictly speaking, still reigning – 5 Nations champions.
The crucial try that afternoon was scored by Scott Gibbs, referred to unkindly by some as The World’s Fastest Prop. During the series, Gregor ‘Toony’ Townsend scored a try in each match, culminating in that astonishing first half hammering of France in Paris.
The mercurial first five-eighth has enjoyed a productive five years at Scotstoun and has now moved on to coach the national team, where he will be a great success.
But the Embramen rather rained on Toony and Glasgow’s parade in the final match of this PRO12 season, coming away 29-18 victors in the second leg of the 1872 Cup.
Tries from Damien Hoyland and Glenn Bryce, together with 19 points from the boot of The Glasgow Boy, Duncan Weir, saw them home. They fell only two points short on aggregate from retaining the Cup, which would have been some achievement, given the disappointing season they’ve had.
While I did say in this very column last week that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gunners nicked this one, that was said in hope rather than expectation. I’m not sure I could seriously claim that you heard it here first.
But what became abundantly clear from the outset on a glorious evening in Glasgow was that the Embramen were quite definitely up for this derby match.
I’m all for the passion of local rivalries, both at club and international level. But I never really understand how folk can rationalise a poor campaign as being somehow successful purely because their team has got one over their local rivals, Wales in 1999 being a classic example.
Observers of a red ‘n’ black persuasion were fully entitled to ask where all this had been during the rest of this dismal season.
Scrummage apart, the Gunners’ pack were on top for much of the match, while the ferocity of their defence kept the Warriors’ attack under wraps but for two moments of magic from the unlikely figure of Scott Cummings for Jonny Gray’s try in the first period and the maestro, Finn Russell, for Hogg’s in the second.
Particularly in the second half, Edinburgh showed some adventure in attack themselves to score two fine tries.
What was most encouraging about the performance, though, were the Gunners hearts and their smarts. Their mental approach was just right and their decision making was sound.
They kept the scoreboard ticking over with Weir’s penalties and then played the game in the right part of the field late on to score the clinching try in the dying minutes.
‘Jarvis’ Cockers will have seen something to work with in that performance.
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