Guinness Pro 12 Wrap: Positives for Glasgow, Edinburgh miss chance
Finlay Morrison rounds-up the last club matches before the Six Nations begins
With just a week to go until the Six Nations commences both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh were in Wales on Pro 12 duty, giving some of the fringe players on Vern Cotter's radar one last chance to impress.
Ospreys 20 - 20 Glasgow Warriors
With several frontline members of his squad either injured or being rested, Gregor Townsend took his depleted Warriors side south to Swansea to take on the Ospreys who were also without several of their key personnel.
Glasgow hadn't won a Pro 12 match since November 27 but things looked good early on at the Liberty stadium as the visitors startled the hosts with some quick incisive play which earned two quick penalties converted by Duncan Weir.
The Scots were also bolstered by the return to the starting line-up of influential pair Rob Harley and Peter Murchie who were both heavily involved in the Warrior's early ventures into the Ospreys half, although flanker Harley was at fault for the home side's opening try on 22 minutes, scored by Eli Walker who found himself with a clear run to the posts after an attacking lineout.
At 7-6 down the signs pointed to yet another Warriors defeat on the road, but credit must be given to the likes of Duncan Weir, Leone Nakawara and Chris Fusaro who helped the Scots hit straight back with a try in the corner for winger Rory Hughes who had just returned from a loan spell at London Scottish. Weir's conversion gave the visitors a 10-13 lead at the break.
With both teams out of Europe and languishing near the bottom of the Pro 12 table, defeat was unthinkable for either side, and so it proved as there was nothing to separate the sides at the final whistle.
Dan Evans' late try cancelled out substitute Gordon Reid's earlier score, and although the home side had the chance to clinch victory near the end when Sam Davies' drop-goal attempt drifted wide, both sides will simply be glad to have avoided another defeat in their respective efforts to climb the table.
The two match points earned sees the defending Pro 12 champions sit in eighth place in the table, just outside of the qualifying places for next season's European Champions cup, but with two games in hand against Zebre and Leinster, Sunday's positive display reflects the fighting spirit within the Warriors' camp. They will soon be able to call upon the likes of veteran scrum half Mike Blair and possibly Henry Pyrgos who will both bring much-needed leadership and tactical nous.
For now though, Townsend and his men have a fortnight to prepare for another tricky away trip, this time to Belfast to take on a resurgent Ulster in what will be another test of the threadbare Warriors resources.
Cardiff Blues 10 - 3 Edinburgh
Alan Solomons was forced to delay naming his matchday squad for the Gunners' trip to Cardiff due to Vern Cotter deliberating over his likely Scotland selection for the Calcutta Cup next weekend, and so the Edinburgh side that took to the Arms Park was perhaps less dynamic than he would have liked.
The Scarlets' defeat at Connacht earlier in the day meant that the Scots had the opportunity to go top of the table with a convincing win, but in truth they never really threatened the Blues line and their sole points of the evening came courtesy of a first-half penalty slotted by back-up scrum-half Nathan Fowles.
The only try of the game came just after a minute as home fullback Dan Fish raced home, whilst impressive stand off Rhys Patchell contributed a further five points with the boot in a win which sees the Welsh side, who had previously gone seven games without a win, now go four from four in the Pro 12 in a miraculous change in fortune.
Edinburgh on the other hand, were a shadow of the side which did the double over Glasgow just four weeks ago, and lacked any sort of composure in the Cardiff half. Wingers Dougie Fife and Tom Brown saw little of the ball and the visitors made things even more difficult for themselves when prop Rory Sutherland was sin binned just before the hour mark for obstructing a Blues quick tap-penalty.
To their credit, the visitors didn't concede whilst their loosehead was in the bin, but it matters not to Solomons who would have seen this fixture as one of the more winnable away days on the Pro 12 fixture list.
Top Four Ambition
The losing bonus point sees the men from the capital fall to fourth in the table, just ahead of Ulster and Munster who both have a game in hand over the Scots. Like Glasgow, they too have a fortnight off before facing another trip to Wales to take on the high-flying Scarlets.
Elsewhere in the Guinness Pro 12 Leinster suffered another unexpected defeat at the hands of a fired-up Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday night, the Welsh side winning 23-13, whilst over in Galway, Connacht edged Scarlets in the top of the table clash. The Irish side are now joint-top of the Pro 12 thanks to a 30-17 win at the Sportsground.
Munster had to fight hard to claim a narrow 12-16 win away to in-form Zebre on Saturday, whilst Ulster managed a rather more comfortable win in Italy - seeing off bottom side Treviso in a 13-32 win.
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