Edinburgh Bounce Back From Italian Collapse With Convincing Win
Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh men showed some true grit to put the defeat the Zebre last week behind them, putting in a solid performance to defeat Scarlets 31-21 – securing the bonus point at BT Murrayfield.
Cockerill’s team seemed set to prove themselves. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
Keeping their 100%-win record at home, Edinburgh secured a bonus point win over Welsh outfit Scarlets. Despite the loss of players on international duty the home side put in a convincing attacking performance to leave any signs of remorse from last week’s defeat in Italy behind.
Cockerill praised the character of his team after the victory with special mentions to the younger player’s performances.
“Delighted with the performance, because when I saw their team announced yesterday it’s a good side, especially the back five of the scrum, and their two very experienced locks against our inexperience.”
“I thought Pyrgos and Hickey led very well. We wanted to kick to corners and take scrums and be really positive and try and score tries, because we didn’t think we could win by kicking threes.”
Hickey and Pyrgos Run The Show
Edinburgh looked keen to repeat their thumping win over Scarlets last year, with the first five minutes entirely spent in the Scarlets twenty-two.
Duhan Van Der Merwe, making his home return after his injury, quickly reminded everyone of his immense power and speed. An early try opportunity with a kick over the top landing in the try zone, touched down by Van Der Merwe. Referee Ben O’Keeffe, however, ruling the touchdown incomplete.
Keen to not be slowed down, Edinburgh bullishly put themselves back on the five metre line. A strong kick to the corner by Simon Hickey put the forwards in a fine position to drive themselves over the try line. Viliame Mata with the try and Hickey with the conversion. The score line 7-0.
There was an extended halt in play after Scarlets flanker and New Zealander, Blade Thomson – who was knocked out and taken straight to hospital – was replaced by Ed Kennedy. Thomson was looking to make his Scotland debut later this month, but the knockout may put a halt to that.
The visitors showed no signs of tiring after the halt in play, with a great passage of play with the ball flying out to Morgan Williams on the wing who secured the try. The score now level at 7-7 in the first 15 minutes.
With both teams missing a large selection of players due to international duty, it was a closely fought battle in attack. Winger Tom Brown, making his return after his early season injury, scored in the corner. A multi-phase attack, lacking the usual intensity carried by the Edinburgh backs, definitely put a smile on the coaches faces. Hickey failing to add the extra points, the score now 12-7.
The momentum now in the capital sides favour the pressure mounted on the Welsh side. Another fast paced and loose attack left the Scarlets in sixes and sevens, eventually succumbing to the endless waves of attacks, with Tom Brown grabbing his second of the night. A pass from Pyrgos out wide for Brown to dive over the line. Hickey again missing the conversion, the score line now 17-7
With the half drawing to a close the visitors had a chance to grab the last laugh. A brilliant kick to touch by Dan Jones, set up a set piece, with the ball being strung out wide, eventually being grubbered through by Jones to set up Paul Asquith for the try. The conversion successful, the score 17-14 at the halfway mark.
Forwards Dig Deep
A lively start to the second half from the Scarlets, keen to grab the lead, were gifted penalty after penalty. Despite a strong defensive showing, Referee O’Keeffe showed Edinburgh’s Simon Hickey a yellow.
Down to 14 men Scarlets pierced through the home sides line with full back Johnny McNicholl getting easy access to the try line. Scarlets taking the lead for the first time, the scoreline 17-21.
Juan Pablo Socino filling in for Hickey put the ball into the corner with Tom Brown putting in the hard grind to earn the penalty. Edinburgh again punishing the Scarlets defence with Cockerill’s men well and truly drilled in attack. The ball eventually touched down by South African Prop Pierre Schoeman to secure the bonus point. Socino adding the extra points, Edinburgh took up a three-point lead, 24-21.
Edinburgh, looking to make amends after last week’s second half collapse in Italy against Zebre, began to turn the screw. Although not making up ground on the territory graph, the tempo of the game was run by them.
Without their usual front row stalwarts – all away with the Scotland team – the forward pack began to steal the show. Two well-earned penalties at scrum time sent a strong message to a tired Scarlets team.
Youngster Callum Atkinson arrived on to the field for James Hodgson, and after another scrum time penalty Hickey kicked for the corner. With the bonus point in the bag the hosts looked to deny Scarlets a losing bonus point.
A yellow card for Scarlets substitute Simon Gardiner, Edinburgh drove again from the lineout, this time Mata doing his best superman impression diving over the ruck to bag his second of the night. Hickey successful with the conversion leaving the score at 31-21 at full time.
Bill Mata earning another Man of the Match accolade the capital outfit will be hoping his form carries all the way through the season.
Cockerill admired the work rate of the team in training and in the match, giving special mention to senior players like Schoeman and Pyrgos.
“The players have worked pretty hard this week. I thought the young players stood up really well and the senior players led very well from their leadership and their chat but also how they played.”
Edinburgh – Mata (2), Brown (2), Schoeman,
Scarlets – Williams, Asquith, McNicholl
Scoring Sequence: 5-0, 7-0, 7-5, 7-7, 12-7, 17-7, 17-12, 17-14, 17-19, 17-21, 22-21, 24-21, 29-21, 31-21
Man of the Match: Viliame Mata
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe