Edinburgh 21 - 12 Cardiff Blues: Dashing debutant supplies creative spark as Edinburgh profit

IF THE green grass of Murrayfield emerged as an oasis in a country of white, a hardy band of Edinburgh supporters left a bitterly cold national stadium on Saturday night with the reward of having witnessed the colourful budding of talent in the decidedly grey area of Scottish stand-off play.

Hawick supporters have known about this particular gem for many years and Heriot's fans have begun to enjoy similar delights this season. Launched on to the Magners League for the first time, however, Rory Hutton took the occasion in his stride and when his team's stuttering first half-hour was producing little opportunity for the 22-year-old, he duly took matters into his own hands and set up the knock-out blows that secured a league double over the Blues.

It would be going too far to suggest this was a one-man show, rather Hutton was a gem whose sparkle was brightened by others. He ignited the game late in the first half when he latched on to a moment of broken play to burst through Cardiff's defence on halfway with his languid, deceptively quick running style.

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Only the flying Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny had the pace to catch him, but Hutton threw a dummy to gain an extra ten metres and then, when finally hauled down a few metres short of the line, popped a pass to the eagerly-supporting Ross Rennie for the openside flanker to underline his fine return to the professional game with a try.

The game had been crying out for the moment of brilliance after a nervy opening half-hour in which good promise was regularly undone by mistakes or ruck penalties. Edinburgh had been crying out for such moments of brilliance for weeks. That came just six minutes before the interval, and two minutes after the teams returned across the pitchside snow for the second half, Hutton was at it again.

Halfpenny foolishly kicked straight out after retreating to his 22, and Scott Newlands, in an improving Edinburgh lineout, claimed possession. The pack drove, as they had been doing from early on, building confidence, sapping strength from the visitors, and then scrum-half Greig Laidlaw moved the ball.

Chris Paterson set off on a mazy run into the 22, then fed Hutton who stepped left and right, and through a gap. He did not make it to the posts, but the darting set off enough alarm bells in the Blues' defence that when ball was shipped wide left from the ensuing ruck Tim Visser and Jim Thompson had space to combine for the latter to touch down.

Thompson, showing great skills and intelligence throughout, had work to do to score, and it was hugely uplifting – Scottish players tying in defenders, being unpredictable, quite untypical of the interminable lateral phases viewed in recent weeks.

Hutton was inevitably hit hard in tackles, thumped when on the ground by big Cardiff forwards eager to "welcome" the youngster to the league, and he was substituted with a bruised shoulder on the hour-mark, Paterson taking over at ten. Edinburgh led 18-9, but with a well-contested set-piece and five Lions in their ranks, Cardiff had their moments.

Coincidence or not, the tempo seemed to drop with Hutton's departure, while new Irish referee John Lacey was struggling too. Some decisions were debatable, such as a yellow card for Fraser McKenzie for his first, innocuous infringement after coming on, some woefully inconsistent and others just wrong – he spotted a knock-on at one time when none existed. It is never a good sign for a whistler when players around him are laughing.

Still, Edinburgh had themselves to blame for squandering opportunities to seal the win, and were fortunate Cardiff messed up in the last quarter with knock-ons, daft penalties and penalty misses by the otherwise ever-dangerous Halfpenny and sub Dai Flanagan, even if the late sin-binning of Roddy Grant was another of Lacey's debatable calls at a ruck.

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So, Edinburgh held on for the win to take advantage of all other league matches being postponed by the freezing temperatures and move up to third in the table. They hope to return to Heineken Cup competition this week in Ulster, with a quarter-final place still a possibility, but, more importantly, with Hutton, man-of-the-match Rennie and Grant, in particular, suggesting Edinburgh's on-field freeze is thawing.

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries - Rennie, Thompson; Pens: Paterson 3; Con: Paterson. Cardiff: Pens - Sweeney 3, Halfpenny.

Edinburgh: C Paterson; J Thompson, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser; R Hutton, G Laidlaw; A Jacobsen, R Ford, D Young, S MacLeod, J Hamilton, S Newlands, R Rennie, R Grant. Subs: C Hamilton for MacLeod, F McKenzie for Newlands, both 57, M Robertson for Hutton 60, A Kelly for Ford 70, K Traynor for Jacobsen 75.

Cardiff Blues: L Halfpenny; R Mustoe, C Laulau, J Roberts, T James; C Sweeney, G Cooper; S Hobbs, R Thomas, F Filise, D Jones, P Tito, A Pretorius, M Williams, A Powell. Subs: R Rees for Cooper 53mins, B Davies for Tito 62, S Andrews for Hobbs 70, D Flanagan for Sweeney, G Thomas for Mustoe, both 73.