Cardiff 21-15 Edinburgh: Errors let Cardiff off hook

What an irony it could have been – a 79th minute lineout on the line and the chance to snatch victory for the team that had just scored a try from a driving maul, but Cardiff competed at the throw and Edinburgh could not emulate Italy.

Head coach Alan Solomons' annoyance was tangible after the game. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Head coach Alan Solomons' annoyance was tangible after the game. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Head coach Alan Solomons' annoyance was tangible after the game. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Scorers: Cardiff Blues – Tries: Williams, Jenkins, Patchell. Cons: Patchell (3). Edinburgh – Tries: Visser, Grant. Con: Heathcote. Pen: Heathcote.

It meant a defeat in a game Edinburgh dominated up front. They laid a platform for the win which would help their pursuit of European rugby’s top tier next season, but could not finish if off.

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Head coach Alan Solomons is not one for ranting and raving, but the annoyance was tangible as he said after the game: “For the second week in a row we have only ourselves to blame for losing that game.

“We have come away with a losing bonus point, but it should have been four points for the win.

“We missed a kick from in front of the posts and should never have conceded a try just before half-time. All their tries came from system errors in our defence and that is something we have got to sharpen up on.

“It is very, very disappointing and that has made it very, very tough for us to finish in the top six.

“We have got to go away to Treviso next weekend and produce a performance.”

Solomons is hoping for reinforcements from those players on the bench for Scotland, in particular Greig Tonks and Matt Scott, which would be a big help given that stand-off Tom Heathcote and centre Phil Burleigh both went off injured, meaning Edinburgh finished up with scrum-half Grayson Hart playing 10 and third-choice kicker Jack Cuthbert taking the goals.

It means Edinburgh remain in eighth place in the table in a three-horse race with Connacht and the Scarlets for sixth spot, but they are now in danger of being cast adrift.

They might have been unlucky to encounter Cardiff at the end of the week when they had lost director of rugby Mark Hammett, the players clearly responding to the changes following his departure.

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However, Edinburgh had the forward power to win comfortably. Unlike Scotland against Italy, it was Edinburgh who dominated the scrums but it was the Blues who looked sharper with ball in hand.

A home penalty brought a lineout in the corner and, from that, scrum-half Lloyd Willliams was able to slice through the Edinburgh defence with a simple show and go. Rhys Patchell converted from in front of the posts.

The visitors were given an opportunity to get on the board themselves when home No 8 Manoa Vosawai was penalised and yellow carded for a high tackle on outside half Jade Te Rure.

The penalty was in front of the posts, but the former New Zealand Under-20s player hit the post with his kick. A minute later, an intended penalty to the corner was kicked dead by Te Rure.

It was soon 14 against 14. Edinburgh captain Mike Coman was spending much of his time on the Cardiff side of rucks, to the frustration of referee Dudley Phillips, who followed up an earlier penalty and warning with a yellow card.

The Blues did cross the line with a fine inter-passing move through midfield, but it included some fine forward inter-passing and the score was chalked off.

Ellis Jenkins was the recipient of that forward pass, but he was not to be denied. Just before half-time he broke through and then was on hand to finish off the move by diving under the posts. Patchell again slotted the easy conversion to give his team a 14-0 lead at the break.

Te Rure was replaced by Tom Heathcote at half-time, to no-one’s great surprise. Solomons confirmed afterwards it was a tactical change to use the wind more second half.

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The game was then reduced to farce when play stopped for a couple of minutes for Edinburgh hooker Neil Cochrane to change boots, much to the understandable frustration of the fans.

Following the miserable fare at BT Murrayfield, Rugby Union sometimes seems to be a game determined to shoot itself in the foot.

Edinburgh were starting to come back into the game with the wind at their backs in the second half, with Heathcote delaying his pass to bring Tim Visser in from the blindside wing and he sliced through for a simple try. Heathcote added the extras as well as a penalty.

The Blues were struggling against the wind, but the one time they threatened the Edinburgh line they were able to come away with a try – well worked to get Patchell over in the corner and he added a superb conversion.

The Scottish side’s forward power brought them a straightforward try from a driving lineout, flanker Roddy Grant marshalling his troops and getting an armchair ride to the line. Josh Turnbull, for the Blues, and Dougie Fife, for Edinburgh, both spent the end of the game in the sin bin, but Edinburgh still had the chance to take victory.

They had the blueprint from their own driving maul try and the Italians at Murrayfield, but fluffed their lines when it mattered most.

Cardiff: J Tuculet; R Smith, C Allen, G Evans, T Isaacs; R Patchell; L Williams; S Hobbs, M Rees (Capt ), A Jones, F Paulo, J Hoeata, J Turnbull, E Jenkins, M Vosawai. Subs: K Dacey for Rees 62, T Davies, T Filise for Jones 43, L Reed for Paulo 53, M Cook for Vosawai 62, T Knoyle, G Davies for Thomas 55, A Thomas for Allen 40.

Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; D Fife, S Beard, P Burleigh, T Visser; Jade Te Rure, G Hart; R Sutherland, N Cochrane, W Nel, O Atkins, A Bresler, M Coman (Capt), R Grant, D Denton. Subs: S McInally for Cochrane 60, G Shiels for Sutherland 24-32, J Andress for W Nel 77, F Mckenzie for Bresler 60, H Blake for Grant 77, N Fowles for Heathcote 65, T Heathcote for Te Rure 40, A Strauss for Burleigh 65.