Dragons 15 - 16 Edinburgh: Visitors stay in race for top six

Dragons Welsh international Taulupe Faletau is stopped short of the try line by Cornell Du Preez. Picture: Getty
Dragons Welsh international Taulupe Faletau is stopped short of the try line by Cornell Du Preez. Picture: Getty
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Edinburgh’s hopes of the top six spot in the Guinness Pro12 may have been hanging by a thread coming into this game, but they are still spinning on that thread after this narrowest of wins.

As coach Alan Solomons admitted afterwards, all that mattered was getting the victory, moving back up to seventh just four points back.

“We had to win the game, it was as simple as that,” he said. “To keep our hopes alive we had to win this game, so there was a lot of pressure on the players going into the game.

“Our Test players did really well coming back in. It was difficult to come off the back of a difficult Six Nations and to play your first game away from home. They did well but, at times, we made things difficult for ourselves with some defensive lapses which were not good.

“Sammy [Hidalgo-Clyne] is a great kicker but he had one of those days like anybody can, but the important thing was we hung in there and got the win.

“It is good for the competition, probably not good for the heart, because there is a lot of interest generated in places for Europe and the top-four spots.”

Flanker Hamish Watson scored the crucial try, set up by a brilliant knife-edge kick to the corner by full-back Blair Kinghorn.

“Blair is a great player for us this season and had been a real breakthrough player in his first year out of school,” said Watson.

“My first year out of school I was still playing academy stuff, so for him to be playing games like that is a real positive for Edinburgh going forward.”

A poor away record was a key part of Edinburgh’s problems but this game against the lowest non-Italian team would clearly have been must-win.

Edinburgh were in complete control for the first half hour but had only a couple of penalties from Blair Kinghorn and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to show for that hard work.

Watson did come within a centimetre or two of the try line reaching out for the score, but he might rue not using the players outside him when it comes to the team’s video review session.

The Dragons did finish the half strongly, helped by an Edinburgh lineout on their own line which went horribly wrong. Wales wing Hallam Amos came close to scoring in the corner but he had put a foot in touch under pressure from the defence.

Home stand-off Dorian Jones did land a penalty to show something for that pressure but Hidalgo-Clyne added another for Edinburgh with the last kick of the first half to leave his team a little more relaxed at the break.

Any complacency would have been wiped out a few seconds into the second half, Amos again the threat as he took the ball through the midfield to go over for the try, converted by Jones to put the home team ahead.

Edinburgh responded when Kinghorn put a remarkable penalty into the corner, gaining 45 yards with almost no angle to work with.

From the resulting five-yard lineout, Watson was able to control the drive to go over for the try. Hidalgo-Clyne added the two points, but for all the work of the forwards the real credit for the try should go to the full back exuding the confidence of youth.

The other side of a young player learning his trade was in evidence a couple of minutes later, though, as Amos was given space down the left wing and was able to brush off the Edinburgh full back’s tackle to score in the corner.

Jones missed the touchline conversion and Edinburgh were able to hold on for the crucial win.

DRAGONS: Tries: Amos (2), Con: Jones. Pen: Jones.

EDINBURGH: Try: Watson, Con: Hidalgo-Clyne. Pens: Linghorn, Hidalgo-Clyne (2).

DRAGONS: C Meyer; A Hewitt, T Morgan, A Warren, H Amos; D Jones, S Pretorius; P Price, T Rhys Thomas (c), B Harris, C Hill, R Landman, L Evans, N Cudd, T Faletau. Replacements: H Gustafson for Thomas, 74 B Stankovich for Price 65, L Fairbrother for Harris 65, M Screech for Hill 33 , E Jackson for Cudd 76, C Davies for Pretorius 68, A O’Brien for Jones 61, A Hughes for Warren 68 .

EDINBURGH: B Kinghorn, D Hoyland, M Allen, S Beard, T Brown; P Burleigh, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford (c), WP Nel, A Bresler, B Toolis, J Ritchie, H Watson, C Du Preez. Replacements: S McInally for Ford 60, R Sutherland for Dickinson 67, J Andress for Nel 53, A Toolis, M Bradbury for Ritchie 65, S Kennedy, C Dean for Beard 72, D Fife.