Edinburgh Fall to Narrow Defeat Against Ospreys
A narrow one point margin was all that separated Edinburgh Rugby and their opponents Ospreys come full time in today’s pre-season friendly. The visitors were the ones to emerge victorious, but Edinburgh assistant coach Duncan Hodge believes his side has a lot to learn from their performance.
Matt Scott on his way to a try and a man of the match award against the Ospreys. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
In this, the last of Edinburgh’s pre-season fixtures, the two teams were relatively evenly matched for the majority of the 80 minutes. Despite the final scoreline not being in the capital side’s favour, assistant coach Duncan Hodge believes there are positives to be taken from the encounter.
Speaking after the final whistle, Hodge said: “There was some very good stuff, and then some poor stuff. I think the big thing is that there’s still a lot of positives there, a lot of good work.”
He further explained: “There’s a lot to like but there’s also quite a bit to learn on. Which is a great thing, because we’ve got two weeks now to prepare for the first league game to work on the game management side of things.
“Also, there was just some individual errors, which is always going to happen but they all just built up. And so, a game that we should potentially have been clear in, we weren’t.
“There was lots of good defence in there as well, we got through some sets. In a bizarre way, apart from the three tries, they didn’t really look like scoring. So, that’s frustrating but I suppose those are the kind of fine margins that you’re kind of working on at this level. And that’s what we’ve got to eradicate.
“It’s not the biggest game of the season though, that one – the biggest game of the season is the one coming up next. So that’s what we’ve got to focus on and we’ll take it from there.”
The encounter saw lock Lewis Carmichael return from injury to take his place in the starting 15 for the first time in over a year. The young prospect missed the entirety of the 2018/19 season due to a lengthy concussion battle as well as having to undergo knee surgery following an ACL injury in training.
Other firsts of the day included two debuts as new signing Ruan Steenkamp started on the flank, and the South African was joined by fellow debutant Jamie Bhatti who made his first appearance for the capital club since signing from rival Glasgow Warriors in the early summer.
It was the opponents more regular starting line-up who were on the forefront from the kick off, however. Edinburgh’s line speed seemed to be lagging, and so Ospreys worked to punish this lack of pace as their attacking line was consistent and well-paced.
And so, it was of no surprise to anyone in the BT Murrayfield stadium when they claimed the first points of the game. Taking ball from the lineout into a rolling maul, the Welshmen eventually crashed over the line in a pile of bodies with hooker Sam Parry emerging from the bottom of the heap as the scorer. Luke Price was unable to add the extras, so the visitors had to settle for a small leading margin.
Edinburgh looked to rectify the deficit as they worked through recycling the ball when they gained the attacking possession. Pierre Schoeman was as destructive in the tackle as ever, as Carmichael and Steenkamp both made strong carries into contact.
Patience would ultimately prevail however, as it was a lineout feed to Matt Scott which allowed the centre to batter his way through the smallest of openings in the Ospreys line to go over for the first points in Edinburgh’s favour on the board. Stand-off Jaco Van Der Walt retained his reliability at the kicking tee as he was able to add the conversion extras.
Scott’s centre partner Mark Bennett was on form to play his part in the creation of Edinburgh’s second try as he made the break to be in position to offload in the tackle to Van Der Walt, with the half-back feeding Jamie Farndale. The former 7s star, who had been right on the South African’s shoulder to provide him with a supporting line, then had no issue with soaring in to plant the ball right under the sticks, giving Van Der Walt a perfectly simple conversion kick.
The visitors were the first to add to their points tally in the second half as Edinburgh suffered a rather large faux pas as Ospreys replacement Luke Morgan seemed to come out of thin air to go cleanly through the Edinburgh defence and over the line unchallenged. Price was able to convert to take his side to within two points of the hosts.
Following a disallowed Nic Groom try in the corner and a whole host of changes, Scott found himself playing the starring part for Edinburgh once more as he identified a perfect gap in the Welsh side’s defence. He jetted through it, with the equally fast-paced James Johnstone in support.
Scott flicked the pass to his support man, who returned the favour as he was caught in the sights of the oncoming Ospreys defence. And so, Scott crossed the line once more, lining up the easy conversion for Hickey who had no qualms kicking the additional two points.
An Ospreys try from replacement Scott Otten once more closed the gap after the front row went over following some quick recycling of ball on the Edinburgh line. However, the final blow was a penalty kick from Cai Evans with only three minutes of play left.
Despite an effort to scrape back the chance for more points in the closing moments, Edinburgh were unable to reclaim any type of attacking chance and had to settle for watching Ospreys kick the ball dead as the clock went red and the victory was snatched from them.
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; J Farndale, M Bennett, M Scott, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Groom; P Schoeman, D Cherry, P Ceccarelli, M Douglas, L Carmichael, L Crosbie, R Steenkamp, N Haining. Subs: J Bhatti, M McCallum, J Stanley, C Fenton, E Ashman, J Hodgson, F McKenzie, R Darge, C Boyle, A Miller, H Pyrgos, C Shiel, S Hickey, J Baggott, G Taylor, C Dean, J Johnstone, S Pecqueur, T Brown.
Ospreys: D Evans; H Dirksen, C Allen, T Thomas-Wheeler, K Giles; L Price, H Morgan; G Thomas, S Parry, T Botha, L Ashley, J King, D Lydiate, O Cracknell, G Evans. Subs: S Otten, R Jones, G Gajion, W Griffiths, G Volpi, M Morris, S Cross, D Baker, R Morgan-Williams, M Aubrey, J Hook, C Evans, K Williams, T Williams, L Morgan.
Referee: Mike Adamson.
Edinburgh: Tries: Scott 2, Farndale. Con: Van Der Walt 2, Hickey.
Ospreys: Tries: Parry, Morgan, Otten. Cons: Price, Evans. Pen: Evans.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-0), (0-5), (5-5), (7-5), (12-5), (14-5) HT (14-10), (14-12), (19-12), (21-12), (21-17), (21-19), (21-22) FT.
Man of the Match: Matt Scott.