EDINBURGH joined the Scotland under-20 team in setting an example for the senior national side to follow tomorrow afternoon, by grinding out a well-deserved victory over Welsh opposition at Myreside last night.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Te Rure, Brown, Hart; Con: Te Rure, Heathcote 2; Pen: Te Rure. Ospreys: Try: Evans; Con: Davies; Pens: Davies 3
Much of the focus was on Hugh Blake, the Kiwi flanker who was looking to justify his inclusion in Scotland’s Six Nations training squad on his first appearance in a fully professional match in this country – but it was stand-off Jade Te Rure (who arrived on these shores at the same time as his countryman on a similar trial contract until the end of the season) who caught the eye early on. His dancing feet and cheeky offloading created a number of half chances for the home team during the opening quarter, and although one pop back inside went horribly wrong and required Tom Brown to go scurrying back 30 yards to clear up the mess, Te Rure’s determination to play fast and free remained undented.
He was the chief architect and ultimate finisher of Edinburgh’s opening try in the 18th minute – with Phil Burleigh and Jack Cuthbert also contributing to that score. The diminutive playmaker also added the conversion but two missed penalties during the first half suggest that goal-kicking might not be his forte.
In fairness to Te Rure, he did get a three-pointer just before the break – although he needed the assistance of a lucky bounce off the left post before his effort went over, despite the fact he was kicking from ten yards out and directly in front of the posts.
Ospreys kept themselves in touch with three Sam Davies penalties, and they could easily have taken a lead into half-time after their goal-kicker demonstrated that he can do a bit of damage with the ball in hand too, when he ghosted through Edinburgh’s defence with almost indecent ease. Davies then then sent a pass which looked certain to send Tom Grabham over in the corner – but the winger couldn’t fully collect and Edinburgh were able to smother the threat when the ball was flipped speculatively back inside.
The second half was a grizzly deadlock until Tom Brown collected the ball on the halfway line and sniffed out a gap with fifteen minutes to go. A few slick Edinburgh phases later and Tom Heathcote, who had replaced De Ture, was sending Brown over on the left touchline. Heathcote’s impressive conversion put Edinburgh firmly in the driving seat, but their task was not helped when they almost immediately lost Damian Hoyland to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle. However, the Ospreys had neither the wit nor the burning desire to make the most of their advantage – and it was Edinburgh who enjoyed the whip hand during the remainder of the contest.
No sooner had Edinburgh been restored to a full complement than Ospreys prop Duncan Jones was seeing yellow for collapsing the maul, and when man-of-the –match Grayson Hart went over for Edinburgh’s third try a few minutes later the only suspense left in this match was whether the home team would be able to bag a bonus point.
They threw caution to the wind during the final five minutes but to no avail, and they ended up leaving themselves exposed for a consolation score by Dan Evans with the last play of the game.
This victory is a real boost to Edinburgh in their quest for a top six finish in the Pro 12, which will secure them European Cup qualification next season. It has also done Glasgow Warriors a huge favour because they can now go top if they beat Zebre tomorrow afternoon.
As for Blake, if Vern Cotter was looking for this game to be a vehicle for easing his man into the Scotland squad for the Italy game at the end of the month then he will have been left disappointed. The 22-year-old had a handful of carries – including during the build-up to Brown’s try – but he missed a bad tackle on Davies in the first half and generally seemed to be out of sync with what Edinburgh were trying to do, which is perhaps understandable given how little time he has had in the saddle.
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; D Hoyland, S Beard, P Burleigh, T Brown; J Te Rure (T Heahcote 55), G Hart; R Sutherland, N Cochrane (S McInally 22-27), W Nel, A Bresler (F McKenzie 61), O Atkins, R Grant, H Blake, M Coman.
Ospreys: D Evans; R Grabham, A Beck (J Spratt 57), J Matavesi, R Fussell; S Davies, M Roberts; M Thomas (D Jones 65), S Otten(M Dwyer 75), D Arhip, T Cavubati, R Thornton (D Baker 25), J Bearmon (J King 46), S Lewis, T Ardron