Edinburgh Turf Out Ugly Win Against Conference Rivals Cardiff Blues
It wasn’t the try scoring fest of last week, but it was a statement from Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side all the same as they managed to painstakingly grind out a win against Cardiff Blues at BT Murrayfield on Friday evening.
Mike Willemse (right) congratulates George Taylor on his charge down try – the sole try of the match. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
Edinburgh secured a win bonus point as they defeated Pro14 Conference B rivals Cardiff Blues 14-6 under the Friday night lights of BT Murrayfield.
The hosts took four points from the encounter, whilst the visitors were kept to no points at all in the table due to their only scoring two penalties.
“It was as bad as we’ve played all season, but we’ll take the four points,” Cockerill blunty stated post-match. “Cardiff were hard to break down, they defended our line-out and set-piece strikes really well, and they tested us a little bit by controlling the field position. We couldn’t really get a foothold in the game, but we found a way to win and that’s the key part.”
“Both sets of coaches will be very disappointed in the performance, but the important stat is that we get the win and they get nothing, which is great. We’ve got a lot of guys missing, we chose to rotate, and I think that was the right thing to do. We can have a bit of a break now and enjoy a bit of downtime.”
It was a chillingly crisp Edinburgh night under the Murrayfield floodlights as kick-off arrived at 7:35pm. Possession jockeyed back and forth in the opening five minutes, though neither side seemed to be able to get anywhere with ball in hand, mostly just moving things across field to try find a gap in the defensive lines.
Some good work from Cardiff centre Max Llewellyn and Edinburgh scrum half Charlie Shiel and wing Duhan Van Der Merwe respectively all failed to bring any points to fruition. Ultimately, the first points of the night fell to the boot of Cardiff’s Jason Tovey as the former Edinburgh-man kicked a penalty through the uprights after ten minutes of play.
Upon the restart, George Taylor charged down an attempted box kick by Dan Fish to get his side out of pressure in his own 22. The Edinburgh centre chased the stray ball to tackle it over the line for the game’s opening try – a score which would prove to be the only try of the match. Simon Hickey’s conversion attempt, uncharacteristically, bounced off the left upright.
A strong carry from lock Lewis Carmichael wasn’t enough to give Edinburgh the attacking advantage, and an early injury to centre George Taylor forced the back off – with his arm wrapped in his shirt – to be replaced by Chris Dean. Carmichael himself was forced from the field for a period of time to undergo a HIA – concerning, considering his previous concussion issues – but the forward was able to return to the field of play.
Cardiff were awarded a penalty at the breakdown, but as his opposite number Hickey had done before him, Tovey failed to slot the kick. A dominant driving maul from a lineout put Edinburgh into the visitors 22, and having moved things through the phases, the referee awarded a penalty for Cardiff sealing off the ball at a breakdown – with Hickey this time having no issues finding the posts.
A rather uninspiring first half ultimately ended with Edinburgh thwarting their own attack having been penalised for offside in the 22 and then having Nick Haining disciplined for his actions at the ruck – a penalty awarded for this was kicked by Tovey and proved to be the final points of the first 40 minutes.
A marker of Edinburgh’s lack of intensity was clear as the replacements commenced after just 45 minutes played, with Jamie Bhatti making way for eventual man of the match, Pierre Schoeman. Tovey was also replaced, though his was a forced replacement as the fly-half was left in a heap on the ground having been caught between one of his own forwards a Schoeman – not a sandwich that any halfback wants to be the filling for.
Hickey once more saw his kick attempt sore to the outside edge of the posts, this time giving the Welshmen a 22 drop out, however, later in the encounter, the Kiwi was given the chance of redemption as he went for the posts following a couple of fruitless attempts at the corner from penalties. He halved the uprights, meaning that with eight minutes left to play, the sides were only separated by five points.
Murrayfield erupted in the dying minutes of the match as Edinburgh managed to withstand an attack in their own 22 – clearing things to within ten metres of the Cardiff 22. It was there, in the centre of the field, that they were given a penalty for offside and despite earlier shaky attempts, Hickey had the last say on the scoreboard as he added three points to bring the final scoreline to 14-6.
Despite Cockerill saying in the run up to the encounter that he had never been involved in a game which could ever be classed as a beauty contest, the game was definitely one of Edinburgh’s ugliest results to date this season. It simply came down to a situation of cooler heads prevailing, and a side simply turfing out the final quarter.
The win certainly left both sides with plenty to work on before heading in to their next encounters – which for Edinburgh is Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth, whilst Cardiff will come up against Zebre at the Cardiff Arms Park.
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; E Sau, J Johnstone, G Taylor, D Van Der Merwe; S Hickey, C Shiel; J Bhatti, M Willemse, S Berghan, L Carmichael, G Gilchrist, N Haining, L Crosbie, B Mata. Subs: C Fenton, P Schoeman, P Ceccarelli, S Thomson, J Barclay, H Pyrgos, J Van Der Walt, C Dean.
Cardiff Blues: D Fish; J Harries, G Smith, M Llewellyn, A Summervill; J Tovey, L Williams; B Thyer, K Dacey, D Arhip, S Davies, R Thornton, W Boyde, O Robinson, J Turnbull. Subs: K Myhill, C Domachowski, K Assiratti, B Murphy, N Williams, L Jones, R Edwards, I Davies.
Referee: George Clancy.
Edinburgh: Tries: Taylor. Pens: Hickey 3.
Cardiff Blues: Pens: Tovey 2.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-0), (0-3), (5-3), (8-3), (8-6) HT (11-6), (14-6) FT.
Man of the Match: Pierre Schoeman.