Treviso hold out to take the points at Myreside.
Edinburgh Rugby’s perennial banana skin opponents, Benetton Treviso, were the visitors to Myreside stadium on Friday night for the Round Three match in the Guinness PRO14 League.
It was then the plan to have gone on to say something about ‘that hoodoo has now been laid to rest….’ but, seemingly, the main thrust of Richard Cockerill’s script was lost in translation as the Italian side weathered immense pressure with 13 men in the final few minutes to hold on for the win.
And it had all started so well…..
An early penalty award gave the home side a chance to put the first points on the board, but – as seems to be his ‘habit’ recently – No. 10, Duncan Weir’s, kick slid past the upright.
It then all so nearly went wrong from the restart as Edinburgh were building their attack near the half way line, a loose pass was flung out wide, The visitors wing, Tommaso Benvenuti, intercepted and sprinted off for the try line. Fortunately, Weir was on the ball and took the flying No. 11 down inches short to prevent the first score of the evening. Unfortunately, the visitors’ centre Tommaso Allan had been carried off just prior to this with a, possibly, serious knee injury putting a fair part of his season in jeopardy.
The following 10 minutes or so were fairly forgettable, but once Edinburgh gained a foothold in the Treviso 22, they were to prove difficult to get rid of.
With 17 minutes played, Edinburgh put the match’s first points on the board with a fine try in the corner. The pressure had been building in the Italian 22 for a few minutes with the ball being moved, incrementally, closer to the line, when a missed pass from one centre, Robbie Freuan, to the other, Chris Dean, put Dean through a yawning gap in the defence to slide over in the corner for the try. Weir then found his kicking form and slotted home a, fairly, difficult kick for 7-0.
A few minutes later, the hosts were, once again, encamped in the opposition 22, but much closer to the line this time. As the ball was rucked and passed back and forth across the line, the Treviso defence was being worked hard to try and maintain their integrity, the ball was, once again whipped out to Dean who, once again, crashed over for his, and Edinburgh’s, second try of the night. Weir, again, nailed the conversion and, with 15 minutes of the first half left, it was 14-0 for the home side and Cockerill’s script seemed to be being followed to the letter.
Less than five minutes after the Edinburgh try, that script was shredded, as the visitors scored a well deserved try of their own. Regaining possession from the restart, Treviso pushed and probed at the home defence, gradually working their way deeper into to the 22 and keeping the ball moving. The, well deserved, breakthrough came in the 29th minute when wing, Angelo Esposito smashed through a couple of tackles to go over near the posts. Stand off, Ian McKinley, then knocked over the conversion for 14-7.
Edinburgh had another scoring chance denied when a repeat of their 25th minute try went abegging when No.11, Jason Harries lost the ball just over the line from a last-ditch tackle by Treviso’s Benvenuti and Hayward.
As the half drew to a close, however, it was the visiting side who had the final word as McKinley scored a fine penalty to close out the half 14-10 to Edinburgh.
The first 10 minutes, or so, of the second half – other than Edinburgh captain, Magnus Bradbury’s yellow card giving McKinley the opportunity to close the gap to 14-13 – were fairly uneventful with both sides trying to break, but nothing coming of it.
The breakthrough came, for Treviso, in the 51st minute with a second try from Esposito. Taking advantage of Bradbury’s card, the Italian side pressurised the Edinburgh defence until they found space down the right for Esposito to gallop through and over for the try and the lead. McKinley than scored the conversion to make it a 20-14 scoreline.
The rest of the half was, once again, a fairly trying affair for the home support with neither side looking particularly sparkling. Weir had scored another penalty for 20-17 a couple of minutes after Esposito’s try, but apart from that…..
as the match entered the final few minutes, things started to look up for Edinburgh when, a series of rucks near the line lead to Treviso sub, Cherif Traore seeing yellow for foul play. Weir then went for the corner to set up, what should have been, the winning move for the home side.
Once again, the visitors went off- script and broke down the Edinburgh attack, clearing the ball up-field. And, once again, Edinburgh returned to the fray and went for the line, initiating, what turned into a long, drawn out reset scrum. With less than a minute to go, Treviso had already been penalised several times for dropping the scrum. Leading to the ref, eventually, carding another front rower.
Weir, again, was instructed to go for the line as, with the opposition now down to 13, what could possibly go wrong…
Well, almost everything. The Italian side held Edinburgh’s pack at bay for the remainder of the match, and, as the clock ticked over the 80, the home side were getting ever more desperate as their ball retention was under threat. The final effort saw the ball come loose and bobble over the line, followed by Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, but Italian hands were first there and the ball was touched down to end a frustratingly poor match for Edinburgh’s players, fans and, not least, Richard Cockerill.
Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.