Edinburgh overcome loss of two stand-offs to beat the Bulls amid late drama in United Rugby Championship

Edinburgh coach Mike Blair praised his side’s resilience as they withstood a late onslaught from the Bulls to see out a gritty 17-10 victory at a rain-soaked DAM Health Stadium.

Mark Bennett landed a late penalty to give Edinburgh some breathing space against the Bulls. Picture: Bruce White/SNS

The home side had to overcome the loss of two stand-offs and there was a heart-in-mouth moment near the end when the South African visitors thought they had scored a try to move within two points of the hosts. But the score was chalked off for a double movement by Madosh Tambwe and Edinburgh held on for their second win in the United Rugby Championship.

Full-back Henry Immelman scored Edinburgh’s try early on and captain Marcell Coetzee replied for the Bulls in the second half but the hosts prevailed thanks to three penalties from Jaco van der Walt and one from Mark Bennett, who was the third kicker to step up to the plate after injuries to van der Walt and James Lang.

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“I loved the heart that we showed and the will to put the effort in for the jersey,” said Blair. “We ended up with players out of position all over the place, with two forwards defending in the backs, and found a way to win so I am delighted with that.”

Edinburgh's Henry Immelman scores an early try during the United Rugby Championship clash against the Bulls at the DAM Health Stadium. Picture: Bruce White/SNS

The coach had special praise for Bennett whose penalty in the 72nd minute gave Edinburgh breathing space.

“He trains hard at his kicking,” said Blair. “He doesn’t take the easy ones and that was a very difficult kick.”

Edinburgh lost van der Walt to a shoulder injury just before half-time and Lang moved from 12 to 10 to deputise. But the big centre had to go off with ten minutes left, necessitating another reshuffle, with Bennett going to stand-off.

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Full-back Henry Immelman celebrates his first try against the Bulls. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The initial prognosis on the injuries was not overly optimistic.

“Jaco is struggling a bit,” said Blair. “He has a shoulder injury and it didn’t look good on first viewing. James Lang has a groin problem and it is a ‘see-how-he-is-tomorrow’ type of injury, but it didn’t look good the way he walked off.”

Immelman scored the opening try after seven minutes. Charlie Shiel fed Damien Hoyland down the blindside and Immelman pounced when the winger threaded through a neat grubber.

Veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis helped bring the Bulls back into the game when he pressured Edinburgh into conceding a ruck penalty. Chris Smith knocked it over to make it 5-3.

But Van der Walt kicked three penalties in the final 13 minutes of the first half to give Edinburgh a 14-3 lead at the break.

The Bulls came back and Coetzee squeezed his way over for a try. Morne Steyn, on as a substitute, landed the conversion to reduce Edinburgh’s lead to 14-10.

The hosts’ mettle was being tested and when the Bulls were penalised for not rolling away it was Bennett who stepped up to land the kick.

Time was running out for the Bulls but Steyn knows a thing or two about late drama and looked to have played in Tambwe with a fine cross-kick. The Bulls winger was tackled by Darcy Graham five metres from the line but recovered, stretched out his arm and touched the ball down.

The Bulls celebrated wildly but referee Ben Whitehouse wanted another look and after an agonising wait he disallowed the try for a double movement.

Scorers: Edinburgh: Try: Immelman. Pens: van der Walt 3, Bennett.

Bulls: Try: Coetzee. Con: Steyn. Pen: Smith.

Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, James Lang (Ben Vellacott 70), Damien Hoyland; Jaco van der Walt (James Johnstone 40), Charlie Shiel; Pierre Schoeman (Boan Venter 76), Stuart McInally (Dave Cherry 61), Luan de Bruin (WP Nel 49), Marshall Sykes (Pierce Phillips 49), Grant Gilchrist (c), Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie (Connor Boyle 73), Viliame Mata (Mesu Kunavula 65).

Bulls: David Kriel (Lionel Mapoe 65); Madosh Tambwe, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Chris Smith (Morne Steyn 57), Embrose Papier (Marco Jansen van Vuren 52); Lizo Gqoboka (Simphiwe Matanzima 59), Bismarck du Plessis (Schalk Erasmus 65), Mornay Smith (Robert Hunt 40), Janko Swanepoel (Walt Steenkamp 52), Ruan Nortje, Marcell Coetzee (c), Arno Botha, Muller Uys (Elrigh Louw 40).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

Attendance: 6,002.

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