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Flying start delights Townsend

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend praised the first-quarter blitz which propelled his side to a 23-14 win over Edinburgh to put the Warriors on course for a fourth successive 1872 Cup win.

Scotland's new interim head coach Scott Johnson watched on for the first of a festive double-header which effectively acts as a national trial, but it was a Canadian who made the early impression with DTH van der Merwe scoring two tries, either side of a Robert Harley score, as Glasgow raced into a 17-0 lead.

Two Duncan Weir penalties saw Glasgow hold off a second-half rally from the visitors to end a four-match losing streak and put themselves in a strong position to retain the 1872 Cup at the end of the December 29 second contest. Townsend said: "When you get three tries you're delighted. The way we wanted to play was with pace."

He added: "Some of the recognition of space and the execution was excellent. The try from Niko (Matawalu) kicking to DTH, DTH calling that then the precision and the finish was great. As a coach and players you're disappointed you can't keep it going for a full 80 (minutes) but it takes a lot out of you, that work."

A heavy pitch contributed to the drop in tempo and Townsend was pleased with the way Glasgow dealt with the Edinburgh response.

He said: "Both teams' legs were a wee bit tired in the second half. It needed different rugby and I was really pleased with the subs and the impact they made. It was great to see we changed our tactics slightly, more direct, kicking into space and forcing penalties through our defence."

It is now nine years since Edinburgh have won in Glasgow and more than two since the capital side won three RaboDirect PRO12 matches in a row. The 1872 Cup is awarded to the aggregate winners of the derby double-header and Edinburgh on December 29 face a Herculean task to wrest the trophy from Glaswegian hands for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Three Greig Laidlaw penalties and a Piers Francis try were in vain in a game Edinburgh were always chasing, with head coach Michael Bradley bemoaning the defence.

"We fell off tackles," Bradley said. "You cannot do that. We did that twice and the last try they got was a well-worked try. We did well to steady the ship at all at that stage.

"We went in 17-3 down and our thought process was this is a two-match competition for the trophy. At least it gives us something to fight for next week. Glasgow were very efficient. They were excellent in the first half in terms of taking their chances."


From Belfast Telegraph