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Scotland fly-half Dan Parks grabbed a ‘full house’ of points as he guided Glasgow Warriors to a thrilling derby win over Edinburgh at Firhill on Friday, with the result also securing his side the 1872 Challenge Cup.
This was a humdinger of a match to crown the inaugural 1872 Challenge Cup winners. The lead changed eight times in all and it took a real captain’s performances from Parks to decide it.
The defeat, which leaves Edinburgh 15 points adrift of league leaders Leinster, saw their four-point aggregate 1872 Challenge Cup lead slip away and also ended their unbeaten away run in the league which stretched back to November.
Glasgow did not get off to the greatest of starts. Late replacement Colin Gregor, who stepped in for virus victim Sam Pinder, had an early kick charged down.
They went behind in the fourth-minute when Edinburgh centre Ben Cairns broke free in midfield and his well-timed pass put winger Andrew Turnbull charging over for a try.
Phil Godman missed the conversion and the bright opening continued when the Warriors registered a converted try in the tenth-minute.
They got within striking range with Parks and Opeta Palepoi both taking the ball on, centre Graeme Morrison had a cut at the line off a scrum and a quick recycle led to Parks weaving through and piling over the line.
The Glasgow number 10 converted for a 7-5 lead but Edinburgh, helped by the strong running of Cairns, snaffled back the lead for half-time.
They missed out on a second try when Godman put Cairns haring through a gap on an angled run but, with the cover getting to him, his pass to the supporting Alan McDonald was ruled forward and the try was lost.
Edinburgh retook the lead in the 27th-minute when Andrew Henderson was pinged for not rolling away in the tackle and Godman stepped up to bisect the posts.
After Edinburgh had lost prop Craig Smith to a calf injury, the hosts nudged ahead again when Parks slotted a neat drop goal.
Smith’s injury could rule him out for the rest of the season.
But with Edinburgh captain Mike Blair helping his side to get up a head of steam late on, another ruck offence from Glasgow allowed Godman kick his side into an 11-10 interval lead.
Parks was wide of the mark when presented with a penalty chance, two minutes in the second half, but the 29-year-old was soon back in match-winning form.
Matt Mustchin was whistled up for being offside at a ruck and Parks nailed the resulting penalty kick for a 13-11 score-line.
Godman replied soon after but his 52nd-minute penalty, awarded after a lineout infringement, proved to be Edinburgh’s last score of an eventful derby.
The game’s turning point came in the 68th-minute when Glasgow, who were growing in confidence, worked Parks over for an excellent try.
John Barclay gathered a chip kick on the right, popped an inside pass to Thom Evans and the winger had Parks at his shoulder to complete the clinical attack.
Parks banged over the conversion and he completed his fantastic haul with a 75th-minute drop goal, with coach Sean Lineen proudly pointing out afterwards that ‘it became the Dan Parks show.’
With Cairns catching the eye, Edinburgh had huffed and puffed and put plenty of effort in in search of their first win away to Glasgow since 2003.
However, a frustrating night for them was summed up in injury-time when replacement David Blair missed a penalty which would have given Andy Robinson’s side a losing bonus point.
The victory, all the more meaningful given the silverware on offer, means there are now only two points separating the Scottish rivals in the league table.
It also kept up Glasgow’s run of only having lost once at either Hughenden or Firhill since January of last year.