Glasgow 23 Edinburgh 14
An first-quarter blitz saw Glasgow claim a derby triumph over Edinburgh at Scotstoun 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 Greig Laidlaw penalties and a Piers Francis try reduced the deficit to six points as Edinburgh rallied, but replacement fly-half Duncan Weir kicked two penalties to render a third from Laidlaw irrelevant.
The result saw the Warriors end a four-match losing streak and extend their impressive home run, while 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.
Boosted by news of captain Alastair Kellock’s contract extension on the eve of the match, tying the lock to Glasgow for the remainder of his career, the hosts were dominant in all aspects in an impressive first half.
After Laidlaw’s early charge down amounted to nothing and Greig Tonks was shackled as Tim Visser put him into space, Glasgow responded.
The ball was spread swiftly from right to left, Peter Murchie came into the line to create the overlap and Van der Merwe raced into the corner to touch down. Peter Horne missed the conversion.
Edinburgh suffered a further blow with the departure of Ross Ford with a shoulder injury, with Andy Titterrell his replacement at hooker.
It was the second enforced change of the evening in the visitors’ front row after Allan Jacobsen pulled out through illness prior to kick-off, with John Yapp replacing him at loosehead.
The momentum was with Glasgow and Edinburgh wing Lee Jones held Van der Merwe on the line, but the ball was quickly recycled and Harley dotted down in the corner. Again the conversion was missed.
New Zealand-born, Scotland-qualified wing Sean Maitland was impressive in making his full home debut and he regularly breached the visitors’ defence.
Glasgow then took the direct approach and marauded forward up front and released the ball for scrum-half Niko Matawalu, who chipped over for Van der Merwe to touch down unopposed. This time Horne was on target to make it 17-0.
Laidlaw responded with a penalty from in front of the posts after 32 minutes and another five minutes into the second half to reduce the deficit.
The visitors then finally breached the Warriors defence with a good move after David Denton took the ball into contact.
A fine miss pass from James King put Matt Scott through a gap and Francis was inside him. The fly-half held off the covering tackle to score, but Laidlaw could not add the conversion.
Weir, who replaced Ruaridh Jackson, missed a penalty attempt for Glasgow before a successful second attempt when Edinburgh strayed offside as the hosts exerted pressure.
Laidlaw kicked his third penalty to leave Edinburgh a converted try behind with 11 minutes remaining, but another Weir penalty restored the nine-point advantage with eight minutes to go.
Van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg thought they had combined for Glasgow’s fourth try, but the television match official adjudged the latter knocked on in the chase for the bouncing ball.
Glasgow were camped deep in the Edinburgh 22 for much of the remaining time to complete victory.