Dragons 19-23 Edinburgh: Cuthbert engineers win
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons hailed the spirit of his side that kept alive their faint hopes of qualifying for the top table in Europe next season with their first league away win of the campaign.
He also refused to rule out Scotland stand-off Ruaridh Jackson moving across from Glasgow to join the capital side.
On the day when three No 10s, including Harry Leonard, announced they would be leaving Edinburgh at the end of the season he would just say: “We will not be without an outside half, don’t you worry.”
His more immediate concern was the way his side had kept alive their hopes of a top six finish.
“We know we have a tough run in, but we knew we needed to win tonight and we did that,” he added. “It was an exciting finish and a fantastic win.
“We spent the Sunday travelling and were on the road again on Wednesday which is massive.
“There was a lot of pressure on us coming into the game, so this was about character and we showed that through every player.”
Both sides had a mathematical chance of qualifying for the top flight of Europe next season, though, realistically, they were battling for seventh place in the Pro12, with the Scarlets seemingly in control of that crucial sixth place.
European rugby regulations meant the early kick off on a Thursday for this re-arranged game so as not to clash with Amlin and Heineken games over the weekend, with dreich weather all too familiar for the few members of the Edinburgh side with a Scottish upbringing.
If the news reports were about the smog that is meant to have drifted across Europe from Africa, covering South Wales, then the misty conditions may have made breathing difficult.
However, the mist was nothing more than low clouds and the game was the opposite of breathless, with plenty of kicking.
The Dragons dominated the first half but somehow went in trailing by a point at half-time. Stand-off Jason Tovey landed three penalties for the home side, but Edinburgh provided the one moment of inspiration in a dreary first 40 minutes. Centre Matt Scott started it, creating the space for fellow midfielder Andries Strauss to burst through the gap and almost make it to the try line.
After a bit of battering, it was prop Willem Nel who barged his way through the pile-up to score the try, converted by full-back Jack Cuthbert, who had earlier landed a penalty.
The Dragons re-took the lead after the break with a Tovey penalty, once again from a collapsed scrum, but Scott was proving to be the one player capable of illuminating the murky evening, and he put his side back into the lead with a try which had class stamped all over it.
He burst on to the ball in midfield at real pace and purpose and raced 30 metres to score under the posts, once again converted by Cuthbert, to put his side back into the lead.
The Dragons felt prop Duncan Bell was blocked by the referee, but the veteran tighthead was unlikely to stop the run of the in-form Scottish international.
At that stage, Edinburgh had two moments of inspiration from Scott versus almost an hour of domination by the Dragons, but that was enough to give the visitors a 17-12 lead.
Cuthbert added another penalty but the forward pressure of the Dragons told in the closing minutes. A lineout drive brought a yellow card for Edinburgh lock Izak van der Westhuizen – harsh, as there had been no warning and the offence was not that clear cut.
That gave the Dragons new hope and, from that period of pressure, replacement centre Ross Wardle was able to charge his way over for the try. Tovey converted to bring his side within four points, but, crucially, they still needed to score a try.
They earned scrum penalties, but, when the Edinburgh scrum finally held strong, that was enough to claim victory.
Scorers: Dragons – Try: Wardle. Con: Tovey. Pens: Tovey (4). Edinburgh – Tries: Nel, Scott. Cons: Cuthbert (2). Pens: Cuthbert (3).
Dragons: D Evans; T Prydie, P Leach, J Dixon, H Amos; J Tovey, R Rees; P Price, E Dee, D Bell, A Coombs (capt), M Screech, J Groves, L Evans, T Faletau. Substitutes: S Parry for Dee (66), O Evans, B Douglas for Bell (66), C Hill for Screech (63), N Talei for Groves (69), W Evans for Rees (66), R Wardle for Dixon (69), W Harries for D Evans (65).
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; S Hidalgo-Clyne, M Scott, A Strauss, T Brown; H Leonard, G Hart; A Dickinson, R Ford, W Nel, G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen, M Coman (Capt), C Du Preez, D Denton. Substitutes: J Hilterbrand for Ford (20), W Blaauw, S Berghan, O Atkins, R Grant, S Kennedy for Hart (70), C Bezuidenhout for Strauss (65), S Beard.