Bradbury Has Dominant Return Performance as Edinburgh Defeat Dragons
On the occasion of what was Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford’s 200th cap, it was the successful reintroduction to the Pro 14 for flanker Magnus Bradbury that garnered the attention. Bradbury was a try scorer and man of the match in his side’s 34-17 triumph over Welsh side Dragons.
Bradbury, upon his return from injury, was instrumental in Edinburgh’s win. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
It was not the most clinical of performances either side has produced in the competition this season, however, home side Edinburgh were able to produce enough opportunities to run in five tries in a bonus point win at BT Murrayfield – a win which sees them go second in the Conference B table.
It took Cockerill’s men just nine minutes to take the first points of the match. Collecting a flat pass from fly half Jaco Van Der Walt, centre James Johnstone dodged four tackle attempts to make it over the line for the try – finishing an attacking play which initially started with an out of nowhere burst through the line from his centre partner Chris Dean.
Van Der Walt was able to convert, and so Edinburgh had seven points on the board. But the Dragons struck back quickly – within three minutes, to be exact. Edinburgh provided too much cover on the inside of their defensive line, taking their eyes off the wing, making it clear space for Dragons’ Tyler Morgan to run in to for his side’s first try.
Josh Lewis was able to do as his counterpart had in adding the extras, and so the sides were tied at 7-7.
Not to be upstaged by his opposite number, Johnstone was soon running over the line once more for his second of the night. Running a supporting line for Darcy Graham – who carved his way lyrically through the Dragons defence – Johnstone was able to collect his pass, and with his 7s pace in the tank, there was no one to catch him. Van Der Walt once more added the conversion as Edinburgh retook the lead.
Morgan seemed determined not to let Johnstone be the only impressive outside-centre on the field however, as he was soon in for a second try of his own. It seemed to come from nothing as he intercepted a Chris Dean pass and was straight in for another five points. With Lewis’s kick comfortably over the post, the sides were once more level.
The Dragons slipped ahead when Lewis successfully kicked a penalty through the sticks. Despite the threat of Van Der Merwe on a mini rampage – evading three tackles on the wing – and dominance at the scrum, Edinburgh were not able to score before half time. And so, the teams ran in at half time, the Dragons with a slim three-point lead.
Darcy Graham tried to make a nuisance of himself as the second half got underway – making scarily fast-paced breaks down the wing, as well as hunting for the ball off his wing. He was instrumental in a break down the centre as he provided Dean and Johnstone a pass option on their shoulder.
Apart from that action, the game seemed to take a rather more chaotic turn for the first ten minutes of the half, with neither side able to complete an attacking play.
A penalty for a high tackle allowed Van Der Walt to kick three points for the home side, enabling them to level the scores at 17-17 with the first points of the second half.
The forwards certainly showed their dominance in Edinburgh’s repeated phases off a driving maul from a lineout inside the Dragons 22. It was eventually to be returning flanker Magnus Bradbury who literally crashed over the line right under the posts. With Van Der Walt’s conversion, Edinburgh were once more seven points ahead.
Van Der Merwe sprang into action to lengthen that lead as he evaded one defender, and commando rolled out of the tackle of another to get back on his feet on his wing and run in another Edinburgh try without problem. Van Der Walt lost his 100% kicking accuracy in the match as he missed the conversion.
Despite having already secured the bonus point try, and disregarding the fact that 79 minutes had already been played, Van Der Merwe soon went in for a second score. Replacement Juan Pablo Socino found Dougie Fife in an overlap and he had Van Der Merwe as a short pass support line.
With Van Der Walt’s kick hitting off the right upright, the game finished 34-17 in Edinburgh’s favour.
In what was to be a man of the match performance, Magnus Bradbury returned with a ferocious impact. He was pivotal to Edinburgh’s attack in a number of phases – putting in the bruising tackles and continually providing cover at the ruck, or carrying with power in to the Dragons defence.
Whilst there were areas of Edinburgh’s game which need improved before they face Cardiff Blues next week, it would be safe to say they can take some confidence from this win in to that next Pro14 encounter.
Edinburgh: D Fife; D Graham, J Johnstone, C Dean, D Van Der Merwe; J Van Der Walt, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, R Ford, P Ceccarelli, F McKenzie, B Toolis, M Bradbury, L Crosbie, V Mata. Subs: D Cherry, R Sutherland, M McCallum, C Hunter-Hill, A Miller, N Fowles, S Hickey, J Socino.
Dragons: J Williams, J Rosser, T Morgan, J Sage, W Talbot-Davies; J Lewis, R Williams; B Harris, R Hibbard, L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, H Keddie, O Griffiths, J Benjamin. Subs: R Lawrence, R Fawcett, D Suter, L Evans, T Basham, R Davies, G Henson, Z Kirchner.
Referee: Andrew Brace.
Edinburgh: Tries: Johnstone 2, Bradbury, Van Der Merwe 2. Cons: Van Der Walt 3. Pens: Van Der Walt.
Dragons: Tries: Morgan 2. Cons: Lewis 2. Pens: Lewis.
Scoring Sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-0), (5-0), (7-0), (7-5), (7-7), (12-7), (14-7), (14-12), (14-14), (14-17) HT ((17-17), (22-17), (24-17), (29-17), (34-17) FT.