Edinburgh Rugby: New stadium and new coach but new era begins with defeat against Newcastle Falcons
Mike Blair, taking charge of his first game as head coach, was unable to prevent Newcastle Falcons completing a pre-season double over the Scottish sides by following up their win over Glasgow with another in the capital.
And while the result may have taken the shine off things, the 6,512 supporters who attended the historic first match at the Edinburgh Rugby Stadium will surely be satisfied with the atmosphere and ambience generated by the new ground.
The roof canopies give it a slight air of impermanence and there are a few too many pillars but its size and the proximity of the stands to the pitch are ideal.
Jaco van der Walt had the honour of scoring the first points in the new stadium, slotting over a ninth-minute penalty after a sustained period of pressure by the home side.
Unfortunately for Edinburgh, it was the visitors who were first to cross the whitewash. Van der Walt was the unwitting architect when his pass was intercepted by Louis Schreuder and the Newcastle scrum-half ran from his own 22 to score the game’s opening try despite the best efforts of Mark Bennett to catch him. Brett Connon, the Falcons stand-off, converted.
Edinburgh responded in impressive fashion and Damien Hoyland thought he was in in the corner after a superbly improvised flicked pass from new full-back Henry Immelman. Unfortunately for the winger, his foot was in touch as he dived over the line.
Shortly afterwards Edinburgh got the try their pressure deserved, with Bennett taking the offload from Hoyland before surging in under the posts and celebrating enthusiastically with his team-mates.
Van der Walt converted but the stand-off’s game was ended shortly afterwards when he was helped off injured and replaced by Charlie Savala.
It may have been a pre-season friendly but there was no holding back and Newcastle were also in the wars, losing England full-back Mike Brown and lock Greg Peterson before the half was over.
The feelgood factor inside the ground was doused slightly before half-time when the Falcons regained the lead, hooker George McGuigan scoring the try after a mighty pack effort shoved him over.
Things deteriorated for Edinburgh early in the second half as replacement winger Ollie Lindsay-Hague sprinted into the corner for Newcastle’s third try of the match, ably converted by Connon.
Edinburgh quickly regained a foothold in the game and Newcastle resorted to illegal means to keep them out during a sustained period of pressure by Blair’s side. Edinburgh turned down kickable penalties in the search for a second try but the Falcons repelled their rather laboured efforts.
Henry Pyrgos conjured up a moment of inspiration with a delightful kick to the corner for the on-rushing Ben Muncaster but the Newcastle defender was one step ahead of him. Worse was to follow for Edinburgh when Newcastle sub Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti produced lovely footwork to dance his way out of his own half then sprinted over for a late try which Tom Marshall converted.
Scorers. Edinburgh: Tries: Bennett. Con: van der Walt. Pen: van der Walt.
Newcastle Falcons: Schreuder, McGuigan, Lindsay-Hague, Nordli-Kelemeti. Cons: Connon 2, Marshall.
Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Jack Blain, Mark Bennett, Cammy Hutchison, Damien Hoyand; Jaco van der Walt, Ben Vellacott; Boan Venter, David Cherry, Luan de Bruin, Marshall Sykes, Jamie Hodgson, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Nick Haining.
Subs: Pierre Schoeman, Harry Lloyd, Adam McBurney, Patrick Harrison, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Angus Williams, Pierce Phillips, Jamie Campbell, Ben Muncaster, Connor Boyle, Charlie Shiel, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Savala, Ramiro Moyano, Jordan Venter, James Johnstone, Patrick Anderson.
Referee: Ben Blain
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