Edinburgh secure second PRO14 win in succession
Newport-Gwent Dragons were the visitors to, the reworked, Myreside on Friday night as the new-look Guinness competition started its second week as the PRO14 league thanks to the inclusion of two South African teams who had found themselves cut from the, Southern Hemisphere, Super Rugby League.
However, that challenge is still to come and it was the Dragons who were up fro the first Myreside match of the season.
The match started well for the home side, but once the visitors had weathered the initial pressure, they drove deep into Edinburgh’s half and had the home side on the defensive back foot.
A 9th minute penalty from the ‘former superstar’ Gavin Henson – still looks like a superb player – was followed up a couple of minutes later by the Welsh stand off slotting home a drop goal from outside the opposition 22 for a 6-0 lead.
As the end of the first quarter approached, Edinburgh were beginning to come back into the match and exert some pressure of their own.
As the match was pushed back into the Dragons’ 22, the ball was recycled swiftly through the pack, releasing new signing, Robbie Fruean down the left wing. Reward for the pressure came via a 23rd minute penalty for Edinburgh’s Duncan Weir for 6-3.
A long break from his own 22 by full back, Blair Kinghorn, brought the play straight back into Dragons’ territory, and, although the ball was lost, the home side eventually saw another Weir penalty over the posts for 6-6 with around 13 minutes left in the half.
With the half hour mark on the clock, Dragons lost the ball from their own scrum as Edinburgh’s scrum half, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, turned over his opposite number at the rear of the pile up. The ball was then quickly sent across the pitch where Chris dean broke through to set up a flying Kinghorn for the first try of the match. Weir then converted to take Edinburgh clear at 13-6.
From the restart, Edinburgh were back, putting pressure on the dragons’ line, and getting close to scoring their second try from a five metre ruck. However, as the crowd all thought the referee went upstairs to check the grounding, he was actually checking for foul play at the ruck. And, foul play thus confirmed, Weir was yellow carded for using his feet on a player on the ground.
Down to 14, Edinburgh held their own until the stroke of half time, when Henson knocked over another penalty for a half time score of 13-9.
Edinburgh managed to muck about and delay proceedings at the start of the second half, running the clock down and getting Weir back on with no further damage to the score board. They then returned to the fray with a series of running attacks, culminating with their second try. Once again, a searing break from Kinghorn carried the ball deep into the opposition 22, Kinghorn then offloading to allow Hidalgo-Clyne to dive in under the posts. Weir then knocked the conversion over and, with 48 minutes played, Edinburgh were 20-9 ahead.
Straight from the off, Dragons almost gave Edinburgh a taste of their own medicine and almost scored a fine try in the left corner, but a fine covering tackle just short of the line, prevented the score.
This didn’t, however, prevent the scoring as the next 15 minutes saw Edinburgh going to sleep, giving away the ball and three penalties within kicking range to allow Henson to bring the visitors up to within two points at 20-18.
So, with 15 minutes left to play, things were looking a bit close, but the home side upped their game and continued pressure put sub, Junior Raseolea over in the corner for Edinburgh’s third try minutes after Weir had opened the gap with a 75th minute penalty, Raseolea’s try – unconverted – too it out to 10 points at 28-18.
Fruean then got just reward for his part in setting up the previous try, by scoring one of his own under the posts with just four minutes left on the clock. Weir converted to close the match at 35-18 to Edinburgh.
A fine win, but, as coach, Richard Cockerill commented after the match, not a, consistently enough, fine performance.
Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.