Edinburgh v Cariff, RaboDirect PRO12 

It was back to the domestic league during a weekend break for the Internationals, with Cardiff travelling up to the capital for the latest round in the RaboDirect competition. It was to be a frustrating night for the fans, following the news of Michael Bradley’s imminent departure, as the home side could have taken the win, but for an off-night for the kicker and a bit of loose line-out play in the last 10 minutes or so.Edinburgh had an early chance to go ahead with a penalty from Gregor Hunter, which fell short. His Cardiff counterpart Rhys Patchell was, however, on the ball with two successful kicks in the first 13 minutes to take the visitors six points clear. The next 10 minutes of the match were dominated by the home side, forcing Cardiff to kick from defence a couple of times, whereupon Edinburgh just ran the ball straight back at them, with Ben Atiga doing sterling work up the middle. They were rewarded on the 25 minute mark with another penalty, this time Hunter kicking the points. Almost from the off, in what appears to be a rugby tradition, Cardiff struck straight back with another successful kick from Patchell. Hunter pulled Edinburgh back to within three points with five minutes to go, but again from the kick-off, Cardiff collected the ball and for the next two or three minutes had Edinburgh all over the field, finishing up with an overlap on the right and the first try of the match from Michael Patterson. Patchell missed his only kick of the night and the half closed with Cardiff leading 14-6.
The second half mostly belonged to Edinburgh. Keeping Cardiff pushed deep in their own half, first Lee Jones took the ball up the left wing (pictured) and set up for the backs to get the ball across the field to the right side. A quick recycle from Dougie Fife left Willem Nel with just over five metres to crash, bash and roll his way forward to ground the ball on the line for Edinburgh’s try. It looked a bit ‘close’ from the sideline, but the referee signalled the try. Hunter stepped up for the kick and madt it a seven-pointer for the hosts to take them to within a point, at 13-14.
Seven minutes later, having pushed Cardiff back again, destroying a couple of scrums on the way, it was sub, Harry Leonard’s turn to have a go at the posts. The penalty went over and Edinburgh were in the lead for the first time in the match, 17-14.
Edinburgh continued to dominate, but in one of the visitors rare forays upfield, they were awarded a penalty, which Patchell converted to take Cardiff back into the lead. Fifteen minutes to go and Edinburgh stepped up the pressure. Ripping apart the Welsh scrum, they were, however, unable to take advantage of the territory and possession, loosing out in a couple of their own lineouts to allow the visitors to keep the lead and finish the match 17-16 to the good.
Overall a much more impressive performance from the home side, which had the crowd on the edge of their seats. A few mistakes at crucial times, but far fewer than has been the case of late, let them down a bit and they seemed unable to close the game out at the end. Still, the crowd should have gone home a bilt less disillusioned than of late.
Photos and report – John Preece