ACTING Edinburgh Rugby captain Roddy Grant is standing by his decision to shun a goal-kick that might have got the team back to winning ways in favour of a scrum as another opportunity to open the Rabo Direct Pro 12 account in 2012 looms at Newport Gwent Dragons tonight.
With the clock counting down and Edinburgh trailing Ospreys on the way to an eventual 14-15 defeat at Murrayfield last week, a penalty was forced in an attacking corner of the pitch.
To the surprise of some, Grant opted against ordering a shot at the posts only for the tactic to back-fire when Edinburgh infringed at the scrum option.
But an unrepentant Grant said: “Our scrum was going well and it was a tough kick from the side of the pitch.
“We had won a penalty from the previous scrum and at the time I believed it was the right decision. I still do. The crazy thing was we gave away a free-kick and did not help ourselves.
“Even if we didn’t get a pushover or a penalty try all we needed to do was keep the ball and I don’t necessarily think it was a bold call. We had attacks after that, but what we didn’t do was get enough numbers to the breakdowns.”
Where Edinburgh also suffered, according to the A international flanker, was through a 19-day lay-off since their previous fixture.
“I think there was a bit of rustiness which is now out of our system,” said Grant, who also knows the defence will have to be tight at Dragons where, on their last two visits, Edinburgh have scored seven tries and amassed 50 points only to go down 49-28 and 30-22.
“We have certainly been working on our defence and it will need to be strong with the likelihood that Dragons will include Aled Brew,” said Grant in a reference to the eight-times capped Welsh international wing whose haul of 12 tries in the league last season left him second only to Edinburgh’s own Tim Visser on 14.
Grant added: “Aled is a very strong guy with a good rugby brain on him and someone we will have to watch out for.”
Where Edinburgh might expect to draw the Dragons’ fire is in the quality of their scrummaging, augmented by the arrival from Aironi, until the end of the season, of Ulises Gamboa, an eight-times capped Argentinian prop and who made a promising debut from off the bench last week.
“Ulises did well and impressed as a very good scrummager which is why he was in the squad,” said Grant who knows better than most, having grown up in Botswana, that the signing this week of a prop from the renowned Free State Cheetahs, WP Nel, is likely to bolster the set-piece even more.
“What is exciting about this signing is the fact that not only will WP Nel be a strong scrummager, but he will come with different techniques and experience from the Super 15 competition that he’ll be able to pass on.
“I know that partly from having kept in touch with some old school friends who are playing in South African competitions,” said Grant, who might even find he has an additional job when the newcomer arrives before the start of next season.
Cheetahs are based in Afrikaans-speaking Bloemfontein and Grant revealed he had learned some Afrikaans at school.
Meanwhile, just as Grant wants to build on having been a travelling reserve for Scotland in Dublin two years ago, his opposite number at open side flanker, Lewis Evans, admits there is a special incentive for him, also within the team framework.
Attached to the Welsh squad for the post-World Cup international with Australia in closing in on a first cap, Evans finds himself holding the fort at Rodney Parade while back-row colleagues Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate edge their country closer to a Six Nations grand slam.
“Hopefully I can play alongside Dan and Toby as a unit in the Welsh teams of the future and the way to do that is to perform in a Dragons team that has known plenty of frustration this season when missing out in high scoring games.”
In fact, Edinburgh may be without a win in their dealings with the Welsh regions this season and without a win at Dragons since 2006. But they have managed to overcome every other team below them in the table so far.