Nick Groom scored two tries on Scottish rugby’s return to action as Edinburgh beat Glasgow 30-15 to advance their Guinness PRO14 title chances. The victory at BT Murrayfield strengthened Edinburgh’s position at the top of Conference B after sealing qualification for the semi-finals, putting themselves in the driving seat for a home tie in the last four.
Scrum-half Groom scored in between Glasgow tries from Pete Horne and Adam Hastings in an exciting spell before the interval following a naturally slow start to the two teams’ first game in six months.
Warriors held a two-point lead until Groom went over on the hour mark following brilliant wing play from Duhan van der Merwe. Richard Cockerill’s side managed the game well and another scrum-half, Charlie Shiel, put the game out of sight with an individual try.
As well as sealing the 1872 Cup, Edinburgh moved six points clear of Munster ahead of their kick-off against Leinster with a home semi-final very much in their hands ahead of their final game of the regular season, against Glasgow on Friday.
The result extinguished the remote chance Warriors had of making the truncated end-of-season knockout stages. The game was preceded by a minute’s silence for the victims of Covid-19 and to give thanks to key workers, before the two teams came together in a show of solidarity against discrimination.
We've said it before, we'll say it again: don't mess with the @duhanvdmerwe ?
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) August 22, 2020
The opening stages were unsurprisingly scrappy with most of the 14 penalties conceded in the first half coming before the opening try in the 19th minute. Jaco van der Walt hit two over the posts for Edinburgh in the first six minutes before Hastings reduced the deficit to three points.
Edinburgh were aggrieved ahead of the breakthrough that Warriors were not punished for a forward pass. Fraser Brown kicked forward and Edinburgh were penalised for offside before Hastings fed Horne to go over following a quickly-taken penalty.
A melee followed after Edinburgh skipper Stuart McInally hauled Scotland teammate Hastings to the ground after getting caught up in the celebrations with the Warriors substitutes behind the try line.
Glasgow were awarded a penalty to restart after Hastings converted and Warriors suddenly looked full of energy. But Edinburgh got back on top and Groom went over after a dummy in the 32nd minute following a spell of pressure near the line.
The Warriors responded with their own spell of pressure and possession as Hastings went over four minutes before half-time before hitting the post with his conversion attempt to leave his side’s lead at 15-13.
Edinburgh struggled to get any attacking rhythm immediately after half-time and Hastings missed another chance to extend Glasgow’s lead when he was wide with a 40-metre penalty in front of the posts.
Edinburgh were toiling but Warriors wing Ratu Tagive gifted them possession inside his own half when he needlessly caught a kick forward and ran into touch. He was instantly replaced but Edinburgh kept possession and finally got the ball to Duhan van der Merwe in space on the left.
The South African produced some great handling and an offload to set up Groom for his second try. Van der Walt added a penalty and Shiel scored following a mazy run to seal a significant win for Edinburgh.
"His manner with players, choice of language and truculent nature have caused upset – but results on his watch have been undeniably brilliant"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 22, 2020
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