Edinburgh15 - 29 Newport-Gwent: Dragons fly in to reduce Edinburgh to cinders
A MONKEY was still stubbornly clinging to Edinburgh’s back last night as they went down to their seventh defeat in a row in the Rabo Direct Pro12 league.
Edinburgh never came close to crossing the try line, relying on the boot for all their points, and were a sorry bunch by the end. The Dragons, by contrast, were much more up for the fight and two brilliantly taken first-half tries by Springbok Tonderai Chavhanga effectively knocked what little stuffing was inside the Edinburgh players.
Toulouse loom large in the Heineken Cup quarter-final in two weeks and coach Michael Bradley must be worried because, on the evidence of last night, the French are likely to win without breaking sweat.
Bradley said: “We were poor tonight and we made too many handling errors. It was a chance to address our recent form and we are not going to win games if we keep giving the ball away. We now face a big challenge with the arrival of Scarlets as we seek to produce the form our fans are more familiar with and create the momentum that will allow us to go into the historic quarter-final against Toulouse.”
Three minutes into last night’s game and Scotland’s under-20 captain, Harry Leonard, kicked a simple penalty when the Dragons went offside at the first lineout. But the visitors hit back when winger Chavhanga cut in from the right and sliced through the home defence before a chip ahead obliged Edinburgh to carry it over their own line. A couple of feints from the rear of the scrum sucked in the red and black shirts and a simple cross kick dropped into Chavhanga’s hands for the touch down. Stand-off Staffan Jones claimed the conversion.
Leonard’s second penalty brought Edinburgh back to within a point but then they panicked when Stuart McInally intercepted the ball and flipped to his back-row partner, Roddy Grant, who threw a wild pass that wasted an overlap and stopped the move in its tracks. The Dragons then won a penalty with Jones making no mistake.
And it got worse, as a speculative boot up the pitch floated over the try line and Chavhanga predicted the bounce of the ball better than Tom Brown to grab it for his second try. Jones added the extras to put his team 11 points ahead.
Leonard cut it back a bit with his third penalty and Edinburgh finally got the crowd on its feet as Matt Scott entered the line at a beautiful angle and carried the ball deep into the 22. Dragons openside Darren Waters killed the ball at the tackle to stop the follow through. He was sent to the sin bin and Leonard kicked his fourth penalty of the night.
Moments later he might have had his fifth when a penalty was awarded inside the 22 but Edinburgh went for the lineout instead. It came to nothing as Grant fumbled a short pass and from the scrum the Dragons were able to clear upfield where Jones knocked over his second penalty to stretch the visitors’ lead to eight points.
Play was becoming fast and loose and Jones almost snatched an interception but couldn’t hold onto the ball. He did add three points though when the home front row were penalised for standing at a scrum and argued the toss only to find themselves marched back ten yards to make Jones’ task all the easier.
Five minutes into the second half, Jones missed a penalty from wide out on the left. Edinburgh briefly threatened to get runners into space but McInally spilled a pass and the chance was lost.
The home side then spurned a penalty and ran straight into the Dragons defence, knocking on and conceding the scrum. Tim Visser had a go on the outside only to be halted by Chavhanga’s tap tackle. When the penalty came for Edinburgh minutes later, Leonard kicked it.
Visser was again called into action as he hunted down Dragons full-back Will Harries and robbed him of the ball but Edinburgh were going nowhere fast, losing the ball to a turnover just when Netani Talei looked like he might find a gap. Into the final quarter and replacement fly-half Lewis Robling put the Dragons further ahead with a penalty and the match petered out as he banged over his second from longer range. Phil Price was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on but it was all academic and the clock ran down to relieve Edinburgh of their misery.
Scorers: Edinburgh Tries: Cons: Pens: Leonard 5. Dragons: Tries: Chavhanga 2. Cons: Jones 2. Pens: Jones 3 Robling 2.
Edinburgh: C Paterson, T Brown, D Fife, M Scott, T Visser, H Leonard, C Leck, K Traynor, A Kelly, J Gilding, G Gilchrist, S Cox, R Grant, S McInally, N Talei. Replacements: A Walker for Kelly 70, L Niven for Gilding 66, U Gamboa, R McAlpine, A MacDonald, A Black, G Hunter for Leonard 72, S Visser.
Newport-Gwent Dragons: W Harries, T Chavhanga, A Hughes, A Smith, A Brew, S Jones, J Bedford, N Williams, S Parry, D Way, L Charteris, R Sidoli, J Groves, D Waters, T Brown. Replacements: S Jones for Way 50, P Price for Parry 58, N Buck, H Stoddart for Brown 72, L Evans for Waters 50, W Evans for Bedford 61, L Robling for Jones 61, M Thomas.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
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