The prospect of Alasdair Dickinson completing a remarkable comeback from injury to take part in next Saturday’s Triple Crown showdown with England seems to be dead in the water after the loosehead prop was stretchered off early in the second half of his comeback game.
It had all been going so well for the 33-year-old. The scrum was more than stacking up and he was getting around the park. Then, in the 49th minute, a penalty was awarded to the home side when a maul went down inches from the Ospreys line. Dickinson didn’t get back up and by the time the medics got there, it was clear that he was in real pain. It was a broken foot which had kept him out since Boxing Day and it looked to be the same part of the body which was causing the trouble this time, although it was not clear last night if this was a related injury.
All in all, this was a fairly miserable occasion for Scottish rugby supporters. The loss of Dickinson compounded by a fifth consecutive league defeat for Edinburgh. The significance of this result is psychological more than anything else because the capital outfit’s chances of taking anything positive out of this league campaign were buried long before this game kicked off.
You can’t fault the team’s workrate but they are in desperate need of some self-belief and it is hard to see where the spark of inspiration which might kick-start their season will come from.
They still have a European Challenge Cup quarter-final against La Rochelle to look forward to at the end of the month but that seemed a long way off at the end of this one.
The hosts took the lead through a Duncan Weir penalty in the 15th minute after the Ospreys collapsed a scrum under severe pressure from a dominant Edinburgh eight but they immediately relinquished that advantage when a high tackle in midfield was punished with a successful long-range effort from Welsh stand-off Sam Davies.
Edinburgh then gave away a side-entrance penalty straight from the restart and, a few moments later, a mesmeric dummy from Davies ripped a huge hole in the home defence which the stand-off happily waltzed through before sending Josh Matavesi on unchallenged romp to the line.
Edinburgh lost a groggy looking Ben Toolis with three minutes left in the first half after a collision in the middle of the park. The big second-row has been a stalwart in the capital pack this season, playing in all 23 of their competitive matches so far. He has only been replaced three times in the league, meaning that he has missed only 36 minutes out of a total of 1,200 minutes played. It is a remarkable achievement for a player who operates in such an attritional position.
Edinburgh spent the final few minutes of the first half pushing for the try which would level it. They capitalised on an Ospreys overthrow at a line-out on their own 22 metre line, but Damien Hoyland ran out of room on the right.
Toolis returned to the fray after passing a head injury assessment during the break and he lasted until the end. Edinburgh dominated possession and territory in the second half and had the Ospreys on the rack just before Dickinson’s departure but, apart from two Weir penalties – one of which was cancelled out by Davies – they could not find the chink of light they needed to get over the line.