Edinburgh ended 2007 as Scotland’s top-ranked side in the Magners League following a drama-filled victory over local rivals Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield on Friday.
Glasgow Warriors came from 15 points down to lead 31-28 heading into injury-time but an 82nd-minute try from full-back Ben Cairns, who is ironically a former Glasgow player, saw Edinburgh wrestle back victory from the jaws of defeat.
The result, Edinburgh’s fourth win in five matches in all competitions, saw Andy Robinson’s side leapfrog Glasgow into fifth place in the table and also lift the 1872 Challenge Cup – the intercity trophy which has been resurrected to commemorate the first ever meeting between the teams all of 135 years ago.
The Warriors travelled in hope of their first success in the capital since 1980 but Edinburgh made the better start with fly-half Phil Godman’s early penalty brace sandwiching a single effort from his direct rival Dan Parks.
Godman had 50 metres to go to the target for his second penalty kick, in the 14th-minute, but his meaty attempt cleared the crossbar much to the delight of the majority of the 6,225-strong crowd.
Godman increased his influence when his grubber kick was taken in behind the Glasgow posts by Bernardo Stortoni and with the visitors infringing at the resulting scrum, Godman had the simple task of making it 9-3.
Edinburgh moved 14-3 ahead in the 25th-minute when they picked off the game’s first try through number 8 David Callam.
Scrum half Mike Blair looked set to make the line when he pinched the ball from under Chris O’Young’s nose but speedster Thom Evans got back to bring Blair down just metres short of the whitewash.
However, Blair’s offload in the tackle was taken by the supporting Callam who just had enough space to ship a challenge from Kelly Brown and make the left corner.
The night looked to be going from bad to worse for Glasgow when Evans had to be stretchered off after colliding with Stortoni when trying to collect a cross-field kick from Godman.
Edinburgh continued to look the more impressive side and they were unfortunate to miss out on a try when Godman’s pass to John Houston was ruled forward.
After a Parks penalty, the home side did get over for their second try and it was a beauty from the lightning quick Blair. The nippy number 9 took the ball on and exchanged passes with Simon Webster before blazing over under the posts for an opportunistic seven-pointer.
Parks’ third penalty of the half followed and although Glasgow were 21-9 in arrears at half-time, Sean Lineen’s men quickly turned the tables during the opening stages of the second half.
John Barclay secured turnover ball allowing prop Moray Low to muscle over for a 43rd-minute try for the Warriors which Parks converted. The latter then missed a drop goal shot as his side began to turn the screw.
Edinburgh opened up a decent lead again just after the hour mark when Scotland winger Webster raced over for a try after some neat build-up play involving Cairns and Nick De Luca.
Godman converted but this tie was really building up to a grand crescendo when Glasgow flanker Brown shrugged off three tacklers to dot down out wide and cut the gap to 28-21.
The pace continued unabated and Edinburgh’s nerves were left jangling even more when Parks nailed a 73rd-minute penalty. Glasgow went for the jugular and looked to have got their reward when Parks piled over, seven minutes later, for a try which he converted superbly.
However, it was Edinburgh who had the final say and they spoilt what would have been a stunning comeback win for Glasgow when Cairns, following up on a break from De Luca, touched down to preserve the Gunners’ run of not having lost at home to a fellow Scottish team in over seven years.