Edinburgh Secure the Bonus Point in First Game of Newcastle Double Header
Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh men secured the bonus point win over Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield, meaning the capital men top their Champions Cup group after the first of their double header of games against the English Premiership side.
It was Edinburgh fullback Blair Kinghorn who scored the bonus point try. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
It was a winning performance for Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side, and the Head Coach was pleased with the outcome as he spoke after the game, saying: “We’re learning how to pay knockout rugby, which is great. As a club, we’ve got to enjoy these wins.”
Meanwhile, the problems hit Dean Richards Newcastle side before referee Marius Mitrea had blown his whistle for kick off. The former England internationalist turned head coach was left with no fit to play tighthead props after Jon Welsh, Paul Mullen and Craig Mitchell all suffered injuries in the days preceding the clash.
The point of contention in the situation came from the EPCR – the organisers of the tournament – not allowing Richards to register a tighthead prop late, thus forcing Sam Lockwood to take up the number 1 jersey – one he hasn’t pulled on in years – and with no appropriate replacements, Richards had to field a 22-man squad.
Speaking after the match, Richards explained why he was so unimpressed with the decision: “It is not like playing a left wing on the right wing, or an inside centre at outside centre, there is a safety issue there and they weren’t prepared to address it, so I was particularly disappointed with that.”
As the evening game kicked off, at a slightly later time of 7:45pm, the rain drizzled down over BT Murrayfield – not quite perfect playing conditions. Despite the weather, the 6803 fans in attendance were in fine voice, ready for the European encounter.
First points of the match went to the Falcons as stand-off Brett Connon chose the posts option after his team were awarded a penalty. The kick was good, and Falcons had the first points on the board.
What followed was some rather frantic play, from both sides, as the conditions continued to worsen and the rain was now coming down in sheets. All in all, everything was looking a little grim.
They did creep ever closer to the Falcons line, with the forwards feeding the ball through the phases, with Pyrgos ever on hand to recycle the ball. It was flanker Hamish Watson who spotted the gap, and upon receiving the pass from his scrum-half, put Edinburgh over the line. With Van Der Walt’s conversion good, the home side took the lead.
Shortly following the score, Kinghorn found himself drawn into the line – and so not providing the last line of defence from his fullback position – and Falcons utilised it.
They took the short passes on the wing – Tom Arscott, to Pedro Bettencourt, to Adam Radwan – which them to put Radwan away for an easy run in down the left wing, securing their first try of the night. With Connon’s conversion, they regained the lead.
Edinburgh’s dominant scrum performance allowed them to secure the penalty. Van Der Walt chose the posts, however, it was a moment of panic in the Edinburgh ranks as the ball hit off the posts, and straight in to Falcons hands.
The home side quickly stole possession, winning another penalty at the break time, and this time there was no issues as Van Der Walt sent the ball sailing through for the three points which brought the sides level on 10-10.
Falcons scored another three points just before half time, as Connon’s kick was good after Edinburgh were penalised at the lineout for Grant Gilchrist coming in from the side.
And so, the teams ran in at half-time with Falcons leading 10-13.
Edinburgh re-emerged from the second half with determined intentions. They were quickly up the field, and camped on the Falcons line. Placing continual pressure on the Falcons defence, they built through the short phases with the forwards putting the real hard knocks in.
It was a quick snap out to Chris Dean which sealed it, as he reached through the space to place the ball down over the line, right between the posts. Van Der Walt converted, and they once more took the lead – a lead which the Falcons would not recapture in the match.
Edinburgh continued to add to the scoreboard as the forwards patience and determination at the scrum resulted in referee Mitrea awarding them a penalty try. Just one more score would secure the home side the bonus point.
They thought they had it when a beautifully sharp and short offload from Kinghorn to Graham sent Graham soring the rest of the wing to fly over the line. However, on a TMO check, the winger’s legs were clearly in touch and Edinburgh were back to the drawing board.
The tackle of the night had to be hooker Dave Cherry’s try-saving one on Radwan – a move which saw him dart back from midfield to make it.
A big batch of replacements were introduced upon 70 minutes as Edinburgh injected new legs in to their game in the final 10 minutes in an effort to ensure they kept their lead.
The replacements weren’t needed for the bonus point try, however. Kinghorn found himself with ball, offloaded to Graham, who brought in the braun of Bill Mata to the attacking play. The forward showed some flare as he passed it out the back to Van Der Walt, the stand-off chip kicked over the defence, and with Kinghorn there to gather, Edinburgh scored their bonus point.
Van Der Walt’s conversion would serve to be the final score of the night, as Edinburgh closed out the game to seal the 31-13 victory.
Whilst impressed with his team’s performance, Richard Cockerill understandably was already looking ahead to their return game next week in Newcastle.
He said: “It was a good win. It was a one-off game with the circumstances around the team they picked and the issues around their front-row. You’ve got to take what you can and we did, but we know next week will be different.”
Cockerill added: “We’re halfway through and we have to win away from home if we’re going to qualify, which is the one thing we haven’t done this year.”
Edinburgh Rugby: B Kinghorn, D Graham, J Johnstone, C Dean, D Van Der Merwe; J Van Der Walt, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, S McInally, WP Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, H Watson, V Mata. Subs: D Cherry, A Dell, S Berghan, C Hunter-Hill, L Hamilton, N Fowles, S Hickey, J Socino.
Newcastle Falcons: A Tait, T Arscott, C Harris, P Bettencourt, A Radwan; B Connon, T Takulua; A Brocklebank, G McGuigan, S Lockwood, T Cavubati, G Young, R Burrows, G Graham, C Chick. Subs: S Socino, no #17, S Mavinga, C Green, S Uzokwe, S Stuart, T Flood, J Williams.
Referee: Marius Mitrea
Edinburgh Rugby: Tries: Watson, Dean, Penalty try, Kinghorn. Cons: Van Der Walt 3. Pens: Van Der Walt.
Newcastle Falcons: Tries: Radwan. Cons: Connon. Pens: Connon 2.
Scoring Sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-3), (5-3), (7-3), (7-8), (7-10), (10-10), (10-13) HT (15-13), (17-13), (24-13), (29-13), (31-13).