Edinburgh cash in on Bulls indiscipline to claim big win over URC leaders amid red and yellow cards
Ali Price came off the bench to make his Edinburgh debut following his loan switch from Glasgow and there was a return from injury for Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie who made his first appearance since the Rugby World Cup.
It was a chilly night in the capital but this game boiled over at times. There was one red card - for Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee - and three yellows - two for the Bulls and one for Edinburgh - and the home side managed to cash in on their opponents' indiscipline. After an even first half, Edinburgh scored two tries at the start of the second period when the visitors were reduced to 13 men. That should have been that but there was a late fightback from the Bulls which caused some nervy moments, particularly when Edinburgh lost Bill Mata to the sin-bin.
The Bulls came into this match as league leaders and were first off the mark. Johan Goosen, the visiting stand-off, had already been off target with a penalty attempt but made amends when he set up the game’s opening try. Stedman Gans, the Bulls centre, broke a tackle in midfield then Goosen kicked a grubber which Blair Kinghorn failed to deal with and full-back Devon Williams pounced to score. Goosen converted then missed the chance to extend the lead with a wayward long range penalty before Ben Healy kicked a couple of penalties to cut the Bulls’ lead to a point.
Everitt had warned of the South Africans' huge physicality and they didn’t disappoint in the opening exchanges. One clear-out by Gerhard Steenekamp knocked Glen Young and Ben Vellacott for six. They were also forcing Edinburgh into mistakes at the breakdown and Goosen made them pay when he landed two penalties in five minutes to make it 13-6.The home side needed a spark and Ewan Ashman provided it. Healy kicked a penalty to the corner and although the lineout maul was a bit messy, Ashman was able to ground the ball. Healy missed the conversion but Edinburgh were back within a couple of points.
The second half began explosively with the Bulls reduced to 13 men. Coetzee was first to go, sent off for a high tackle on Pierre Schoeman as he caught the prop in the head with his shoulder. Cameron Hanekom, the No 8, was yellow-carded a minute later for pulling down a maul as Edinburgh turned the screw. The home side took advantage with two quick tries. Ashman bagged his second from a lineout drive and then Duhan van der Merwe finished off a smart backs move with a spectacular finish in the corner. Healy couldn’t convert either but Edinburgh were now in charge, 21-13 ahead.
Price was introduced shortly after, replacing Ben Vellacott, and had a hand in the bonus point try, passing out to Healy who fed Mata for the score. Healy’s conversion made it 28-13 and Edinburgh should have been home and dry but the Bulls made them sweat a little when Elrigh Louw took a quick tap penalty and barrelled over almost unopposed. It was a poor try to concede and Jaco van der Walt added the extras to reduce Edinburgh’s lead to eight points.
Their cause was further damaged by a yellow card for Mata who was upright in the tackle when he caught Gans, shoulder on head. Van der Walt slotted over the subsequent penalty to make it 28-23 with six minutes remaining. Sergeal Peterson, the Bulls wing, was then sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Healy kicked the penalty as the clock ran down to make it four wins from five for Edinburgh.
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