EDINBURGH coach Michael Bradley was left ruing a communication breakdown among his players that prevented the Murrayfield-based outfit converting a spell of late pressure into points and ultimately saw them suffer an agonising 17-16 defeat in last night’s RaboDirectPRO12 clash at home to Cardiff Blues.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Try: Nel. Conversion: Hunter. Pens: Hunter (2), Leonard. Cardiff Blues: Try: Paterson. Pens: Patchell (4)
Reflecting on a frustrating end to a dismal week in which he learned that he will be out of a job in May, Bradley said, “I’m very disappointed. I can’t understand how we didn’t win that game. We had lots of chances, particularly in the second half. Our attitude was excellent but our execution was poor and we were unable to get the killer score.”
In an encounter that featured flashes of handling rugby and offered the 3583 crowd hope that there may be some truth in Bradley’s claims that his successor will inherit a squad with the ability to improve. However, a high error count and some lacklustre tackling proved fatal.
As has been the case in several other narrow defeats in the current campaign, profligacy with the boot also contributed to Edinburgh’s undoing – had one of three misses gone over, the result would have gone the other way.
Gregor Hunter was off the mark with a long-range penalty effort inside the first minute and the hosts fell behind to a fifth-minute effort by Rhys Patchell. And the stand off doubled the tally eight minutes later with a similar effort.
Hunter was awry with another penalty attempt before Edinburgh should have opened their account. Dave Denton, who had been prominent in loose play, headed for the line with two men in support but, after drawing a defender he chose to throw out a speculative looping pass over Netani Talei’s head to Dougie Fife who was unable to control the ball. Hunter was presented with another penalty opportunity after 25 minutes and this time he banged over the kick to halve the deficit. However, the hosts offended from the restart and Patchell booted another three-pointer.
Hunter steered his next penalty wide of the posts but took his strike rate to two from five shortly afterwards after a crunching tackle by Denton had earned another award.
But Cardiff had the final say in an uninspiring first half when Patchell was allowed to drift through some weak defending and offload to Michael Paterson who touched down wide on the right for an unconverted score.
The hosts hauled themselves right back into the contest nine minutes after the restart when Lee Jones looked lively with two breaks from inside the Edinburgh half. The second created the platform for a slick handling move that saw the ball worked wide to Dougie Fife whose pace stretched the Cardiff defence and allowed Willem Nel to crash over for his fourth try in 13 league appearances. Hunter booted the conversion to narrow the deficit to a single point before being substituted.
The first task for his replacement, Harry Leonard, was to line up a penalty from in front of the posts which he steered between the sticks to give the Capital outfit the lead for the first time.
A rare second-half sortie into the home 22 earned Cardiff a penalty which Patchell clipped over to nudge his side ahead once more. That single-point advantage looked increasingly tenuous as the hosts mounted a wave of attacks that stretched the Cardiff defence.
Bradley’s men were unable to capitalise on their sustained pressure, however, and the week ended in depressing fashion when Andy Titterrell failed to find his man at a lineout on the edge of the Cardiff 22 that proved to be the final play of the game.
Bradley was left bemoaning that blunder, saying, “If you look at the last ten minutes of the game we had two fantastic scrums that yielded penalties but conversely, we also coughed up two lineouts due to poor calling on our part.”
Edinburgh: G Tonks, D Fife, N De Luca, B Atiga (T Brown 72), L Jones. G Hunter (H Leonard 55), R Rees, J Yapp (A Jacobsen 67), S Lawrie (A Titterrell 67), G Cross (W Nel 40), G Gilchrist (S Cox 23) , I van der Westhuizen (H Watson 40), D Denton, S McInally, N Talei
Cardiff Blues: J Tovey (C Czekaj 60), O Williams, R Smith, G Evans, H Robinson, R Patchell, L Jones (A Walker 66), T Filise, M Breeze (K Dacey 66), S Andrews (B Bourrust 59), M Paterson, J Down, J Navidi, T Young (A Pretorius 55), R Copeland (L Reed 55)