In recent years the Glasgow Vetenarians have come to see this fixture as something of an annual neutering of their notoriously noisy neighbours who brandish a bark far bigger than their bite. And yes, The GURFC has unquestionably been in disarray in recent years after the clubs infamous off-field indiscretions saw them temporarily disbanded, but the era of ‘Buckfast rugby’ seems to be truly over, as they clinically dismantled the Vets with a brilliant display of exciting and incisive rugby.
A tentative early start so saw both sides playing for territory with an expansive kicking game before the Vets took an early lead through a simple penalty. It was a lead that was to be short lived as Glasgow almost instantly hit back. Looking to reassert themselves as the Universities premier side they took the lead through a try that highlighted the glittering array of attacking options that captain Guy Fairburn has at his disposal.
Olly Barker, a constant menace to the Vet’s burst through their defence, his pass went to ground but the mercurial veteran Andrew Brown was on hand to improvise with an audacious pass through the legs to leave Ben Doherty with the simplest of run ins. Brown went on to slot the conversion, the first of his 19 points, in a performance that will give Fairburn a welcome headache as the full-back looks to try and force himself back into the starting line-up after a spell on the sidelines with injury.
The try settled any nerves for the university and from then on it was relentless. A classy chip and chase from Fairburn caused chaos in the Vet defence, and after good work from the forwards saw the ball quickly recycled and after smart Glasgow hands exposed a scrambling Vet defence, Sean Thompson was on hand to touch down for an easily converted try.
Glasgow seemed irrepressible, as time after time the Vets failed to handle the immense pace and power of man of the match Barker and dancing feet of Brown. Yet just as Glasgow seemed to be eyeing up retribution for the recent years of humiliation the Vets hit back with a try from the most innocuous of situations. A communication breakdown as Glasgow looked to attack from deep saw the ball played behind Brown at full-back and he could only watch on in dismay as the ball bobbled over the try line for the simplest of touchdowns.
A shell-shocked hush descended over the Garscube and that seemed to seep through to the players as Fairburn proceeded to kick to touch directly from the centre. In recent years this would have been time for the GURFC to hit the self-destruct button but the manner in which they were able to rebuild reflects on the maturity and experience Fairburn is looking to utilise as the team look set to push for promotion.
Arguably the key for Glasgow this year is keeping hold of Matthew Moghadam. Not the biggest of players but he possesses the experience and intelligence to dictate play in and around the breakdown. Nicknamed ‘the Chiropractor’ for the bone-crunching ferocity of his tackling there is at times an arrogance about the way he prances about the field yet any arrogance comes from a innate knowledge that wherever he goes on the field destruction almost inevitably seems to follow.
So much of the veterinary supremacy over recent years has been built from a dominant pack that has simply bull-dozed its way through the opposition, yet their overt physicality descended into the reckless as they saw two men booked shortly before half time. Firstly a cynical shoulder barge on Scott McKean as the youngster looked set to extend Glasgow’s lead before minutes later Moghadam was dangerously tackled in the air at the line out.
The second half was an exhibition of attacking rugby at its finest. Barker was truly sensational, with a superlative performance marred only by a failure to add his name to the score sheet. Ben Doherty added his second of the match after a smart shimmy saw him split open the defence before Brown scored the try of the night with a score straight off the training ground. A flowing team move culminated with Brown receiving the ball on the Vets 22 and he had the pace to beat the full-back on the outside.
It was from the sublime to the ridiculous as Glasgow furthered their lead. A comedy of errors saw a scuffed Vet clearance ricochet off a fellow defender and Richard Murdoch was on hand to gleefully capitalise on the confusion for one of the simplest tries of his career.
Glasgow added another before the Vets restored some pride with a try after a good rolling maul exposed some of Glasgow’s defensive frailties. Moghadam capped off a fine personal display with a try that rounded off a thoroughly professional performance.
This was not simply about revenge. It was a showing that highlighted the return of the GURFC : This wasn’t Buckfast rugby; It was Champagne.