Edinburgh Take a Less Than Pretty Win Over Dragons

After an away loss to Benetton the previous week, Richard Cockerill’s men returned to winning ways at home in a rather ugly win against Welsh side Dragons. The game will give Cockerill and his men plenty to work on before they head into European competition in the Challenge Cup.

The set piece (featuring Barclay (l) and Carmichael (r)) was a prominent feature of the game. (Photo: Dragons Rugby twitter)

On a bitterly cold night at BT Murrayfield it was the home side Edinburgh who managed to tough out a 20-7 win over Welsh outfit Dragons in the clash between the conferences.

The capital side’s team sported five international returns in a game which seemed to lack a sense of fluidity, but Richard Cockerill was happy with his side’s result all the same.

“We deserved to win,” Cockerill said after the match. “You can’t be too sad when you win, but we need to be better.”

“Credit to them [Dragons], they played well and made it hard for us. We struggled to break them down. We’ll have better days, but you can’t be too downbeat when you win. We were a little bit flat tonight – I don’t know why, because it’s been a good training week.”

Despite the result, Dragons originally had the front foot in the encounter, battering the Edinburgh 22 with as much attacking power as they could generate in the freezing conditions just a couple of minutes in. The visitors were ultimately given a penalty ten metres from the Edinburgh line for their efforts.

However, stand-off Sam Davies was unable to slot the kick, and so Edinburgh fullback Blair Kinghorn dotted down in his own goal area to give Edinburgh the ten metre drop out and their first real taste of possession.

After a couple of false instances of celebration, Edinburgh opened the night’s scoring when Kinghorn took a pass, which had gone through the hands from a successful Edinburgh lineout, and the young fullback never has any issues when it comes to darting through a thin defence. Simon Hickey was able to convert, and the home side were the full seven points ahead.

Infringements were aplenty in a large majority of the following section of play as kicks went askew, forwards broke out of nowhere – half the stadium had no idea how Dragons’ Taine Basham ended up with possession from a ruck at one point – and rip tackles were left incomplete.

The messy play did succeed in getting the Dragons into the Edinburgh 22, however. The home side were able to repel the attack, and once the turnover was made, the boot of Blair Kinghorn once again came into play as he kicked to clear the Edinburgh lines.

In the closing minutes of the half Edinburgh’s set pieces were more than put to good use as the had two lineouts in the Dragons 22 and a scrum put in thrown into the bargain. Despite some determined grunt work from the Edinburgh forwards on the line, some small errors on the Dragons part resulted in the referee awarding the home team a penalty which Hickey opted to kick to end the half.

And so, the teams re-emerged for the second half with Edinburgh sporting a small ten point lead, as the scoreboard read 10-0.

The teams were straight back in to the lineout battle in the second 40 minutes, as Edinburgh started off targeting Lewis Carmichael in the middle of the set piece – an option which had seen the lock be a safe pair of hands throughout the night.

Retaining possession and trying to find any space to break the defensive line and move their attack forward seemed hard work for Edinburgh in the opening five minutes as play, from both sides, soon morphed into what can only be described as chaos.

Some scrambled back and forth play was brought to a stop when referee Clancy received word from his TMO that an action by Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis required a second look. The lock was ultimately shown a yellow card for a tackle off the ball, and Cockerill’s side were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes. Dragons saw a yellow of their own in the next period of play as flanker Huw Taylor was also sent to the sin bin.

Edinburgh were awarded a penalty as a result of the yellow card, and Hickey had no issue sending the ball through the sticks to increase his side’s lead to 13 points.

The lead wouldn’t remain that large for long, however, as Dragons fed their backs frighteningly quickly from their own scrum put in, and Sam Davies nipped through the Edinburgh line, before feeding Adam Warren who ran in the try. Davies converted the score to close the gap to six points.

Van Der Merwe (11) and Kinghorn (15) both scored for Edinburgh. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Never ones to be outdone at home – especially this season as they still sport a 100% home record – Edinburgh advanced once more for a converted score of their own. Cockerill’s side held on to the ball from the lineout, putting it through its phases eventually allowing Kinghorn to feed replacement Jamie Ritchie out wide, with the flanker then releasing Duhan Van Der Merwe for an easy run in. With Hickey’s conversion, Edinburgh advanced to a 20-7 scoreline.

That would prove to be the last score of the game as Edinburgh were able to tough out the remainder of the stop-start encounter with the Welsh outfit to secure a win which would see them advance to second in the Pro14 Conference B table.

Edinburgh’s next challenge will be commencing their European Challenge Cup campaign against Agen at the Stade Armandie in France next week.

 

Teams:

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; E Sau, M Bennett, M Scott, D van der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, M Willemse, P Ceccarelli, L Carmichael, B Toolis, J Barclay, L Crosbie, M Bradbury. Subs: C Fenton, R Sutherland, S Berghan, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, C Shiel, J Van Der Walt, G Taylor.

Dragons: J Williams; O Jenkins, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt; S Davies, R Williams; B Harris, R Hibbard, L Brown, J Davies, M Screech, H Taylor, T Basham, H Keddie. Subs: E Shipp, J Reynolds, L Fairbrother, M Williams, J Benjamin, L Baldwin, A Robson, T Morgan.

Referee: George Clancy.

Scorers:

Edinburgh: Tries: Kinghorn, Van Der Merwe. Cons: Hickey 2. Pens: Hickey 2.

Scarlets: Tries: Warren. Cons: Davies.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-0), (5-0), (7-0), (10-0) HT (13-0), (13-5), (13-7), (18-7), (20-7) FT.

Yellow cards: Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Huw Taylor (Dragons).

Man of the Match: Matt Scott.

Attendance: 5,762.

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