Bonus point win for Edinburgh in PRO12
Edinburgh never looked like losing Friday night’s match against the Dragons at BT Murrayfield, the question being ‘by how much could they win?’
Win they did, but they made heavy weather of it, spurning several chances to cross the whitewash which was particularly concerning as the visitors were down to 13 players at one point during a four-yellow second half.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne opened the scoring within the first – Edinburgh dominated – five minutes with a penalty.
Despite playing most of the first period of the match in the visitors half, by 15 minutes the scores were level as No. 10, Dorian Jones knocked over a penalty awarded for a collapse by Edinburgh front row in a 22 metre scrum.
The hosts resumed their pressure from the restart and drove down into the Dragon’s 22. A penalty line out saw the home side rumble their way up to and over the try line, with Willem Nel in charge of the ball. Referee, Marius Matrea went ‘upstairs’ for a decision, but try it was, and, with Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion, Edinburgh were 10-3 ahead after 20 minutes.
The next score for the home side was a 28th minute penalty from Hidalgo-Clyne following another Edinburgh-rich period of possession. However, the nearest they got to the line was Matt Scott’s charge down the right flank being pulled up a metre or so short. Recycled ball from this move saw the ball shifted to the centre of the field, but lack of penetration saw Matrea pull play back to give Hidalgo-Clyne another shot at goal for a 13-3 scoreline.
The Dragons managed an addition to their score with a 34th minute penalty from Jones, but this was just a brief hiatus in Edinburgh’s relentless attacking play. Several breaks were generated, chief amongst which was a fine line break by Tom Brown, but – as they say – you can’t run without your legs and a fine last ditch tackle by wing, Ashton Hewitt, brought his opposing wing down just inside the 22.
But, that just delayed, what should have been the inevitable, and shortly before the break, Nel reached out across the line again for his ‘second’ try. Matrea, once again, went to the TMO for judgement and, following a lengthy consultation, Nel was deemed to have performed a ‘double movement’ and the try was disallowed.
So, despite the huge domination of possession and territory by the home side, the Dragons were hanging on to their coat tails at the break as the sides went in at 13-6.
The home crowd were anticipating a repeat performance in the second half and they weren’t (too) disappointed.
Within the first 10 minutes of the match, the Dragons lost two players to the sin bin, both for scrum infringements. The first of these was on Edinburgh’s 22, where Boris Stankovitch received his marching orders and the second was in the Dragons 22 less than five minutes later, Phil Price – on to replace Stankovitch in the front row was binned for a similar offence.
Now against 13 men, Edinburgh went on the offensive, but just couldn’t find a way through until the 58th minute when play swiftly passed across the pitch and a wide ball found Alistair Dickenson on the left wing, the prop barging in the corner over for Edinburgh’s second try and another TMO consultation. This one went on for ages – prompting one humourist in the crowd to shout “Some of us have homes to go to!” – before awarding the try. Hidalgo-Clyne score the difficult conversion to bring up a 20-6 scoreline and Dragons lost their third player – Dorian Jones – to yellow soon after their first had returned.
Edinburgh were now fully in charge of the match, but, frustratingly, could not see the ball over the line. The Dragons’ defence, it has to be said, played heroically as they lost another player to yellow, Nic Cudd being the ‘receiver’, in the 69th minute.
This was now Edinburgh’s chance to go for the bonus point and four minutes in to the yellow, Brown dived over in the corner following another ruck inside the five metre zone. Hidalgo-Clyne missed the kick – his only one of the match – but the hosts now had a healthy 25-6 lead.
The bonus point try then came up a couple of minutes later. With Sean Kennedy on for Hidalgo-Clyne, the scrum half made a break through the defence and into the 22. A pop pass off the floor found Matt Scott with a free run in under the posts and the bonus point try was scored. Kennedy knocked over the conversion and, with three minutes left to play, it was 32-6 to Edinburgh.
Those final three minutes, or so, belonged to the Welsh side. Foot off the gas a touch, maybe, by the home side found play inside the home five metre line and quick ball off the top of a penalty line out with seconds to go found the returnee, Cudd, bundled over for a TMO decided – who would have thought? – try. It was awarded and, with Jones’ kick successful, Matrea blew for full time and a bonus point 32-13 win for Edinburgh.
Images from the match will appear here over the next few days