GLASGOW Warriors centre Alex Dunbar is convinced his team are smarter than they have been in recent seasons - and reckons that is why they brought a three-game losing run against Edinburgh to an end on Boxing Day.
The Scotland cap created his team’s first try in the opening minute of the 1872 Cup match, and scored the third himself in their 25-12 win at Murrayfield. As well as being pleased with the Warriors’ efforts in attack, he said the win was also down to being calmer in defence the longer the game went on.
“When we got the ball we played smarter than we did the last couple of years,” Dunbar said. “Sometimes we get drawn into playing a game we don’t want to play. I think we’re a bit smarter this year and didn’t allow ourselves to get dragged into that.
“As defence leaders on the pitch we talked about giving away penalties. Boys were not quite accurate enough at the breakdown and were giving away penalties that kept them in our half and put us under a wee bit of pressure.
“We were clinical when we got the chances. We just didn’t have a lot of ball and didn’t get into shape at times as we would want to. That hurt us a bit in the first half, but when we got into our shape we did create a little - but we need to work on getting into our shape more often.”
Dunbar revealed that the early try, scored by Junior Bulumakau, was a pre-planned move. Dunbar himself kicked into space, and when Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn failed to gather the ball, the big winger was there to touch down.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Dunbar joked. “It’s something we worked on through the week if there was space in the back field. I looked up and saw it.
“They defend with a lot of numbers in the front line so there will always be space in the back. It was always going to be hard for just one guy to cover it so we found space. The boys were talking and I put the kick through.”
A couple of penalties from Warriors old boy Duncan Weir briefly put Edinburgh in front after that Glasgow try, but by half-time Dunbar and his team-mates were 15-6 up. The half-time talk was about doing more of the same: putting Edinburgh under pressure and waiting patiently for more chances to come.
“Concentrate on defence,” Dunbar said when asked to sum up the instructions at the interval. “We’re putting them under pressure and the big boys up front keep working on scrum, lineout and maul. The chances will come and we can break them down.”
After losing three on the bounce in the PRO12, the win over their oldest rivals has taken Glasgow to within a point of the play-off places. If they win again on Hogmanay against Treviso they could be back inside the top four.
“It was very important to get that win,” Dunbar said. “Before Europe we had a couple of tough results so we know we needed to pick up a win to try and get back into the top four.
“It was a really tight game. The forwards were even. We were a bit more clinical when we got our chances.”