Edinburgh suffer sore URC home defeat to Lions as three Scotland players taken off injured
A penalty six minutes from time put the South African visitors ahead for the first time in an even contest and they held on to win 22-19.
The only other team to beat Edinburgh at the DAM on league business were Ulster back in April, but the Lions came out on top in a bruising contest in which Mike Blair’s side lost Hamish Watson, Darcy Graham, Stuart McInally and Luan du Bruin to injury.
The try count was three apiece, with Bill Mata, Graham and Ben Muncaster touching down for the home side. The Lions replied through Andries Coetzee, Henco van Wyk and the outstanding Franke Horn before stand-off Gianni Lombard landed the match-winning penalty.
Edinburgh were forced into an early change when McInally came off worse in a tackle by Ruan Dreyer and was replaced by Dave Cherry after six minutes. The hooker left the field clutching his ribs.
The home side were expecting a physical challenge and the Lions didn’t disappoint, but Edinburgh were probing for an opening and both Boffelli and Graham had a go. The Argentine, playing in his first club game of the season, was stopped by a brilliant tap tackle, and then Graham tried to dance his way through, only to be held up.
The Lions saw a penalty attempt from halfway drift wide before Edinburgh made the breakthrough after 18 minutes. Mata won a penalty on the 22 and Kinghorn kicked to the corner rather than for goal. The lineout maul was messy but it worked, with some help from the backs, and Mata was able to ground the ball. Boffelli’s conversion was pulled wide as the wind continued to swirl around the ground.
Referee Andrea Piardi went back to check for a possible biting offence, but saw nothing untoward on the big screen.
The Lions’ mini-European tour had already yielded two wins in Wales and they were determined to return home undefeated. They gave themselves a fighting chance of doing so by drawing level just before half-time. Marius Louw’s carry off the back of a maul set them in motion and full-back Coetzee finished things off. Lombard, who had already missed two long-penalties, struck the post with a simple conversion attempt.
There were only six minutes of the second half gone when Edinburgh lost Watson after an almighty collision. It looked like head on head and the Scotland flanker walked off immediately, to be replaced by Ben Muncaster.
The home side needed a spark and Graham duly delivered. Boffelli looped the ball out to the winger and he finished superbly in the corner, just squeezing his way over, although he required treatment on his knee in the aftermath. Boffelli landed the tricky conversion.
The elation was short-lived as Lions produced a try from nowhere. Van Wyk wriggled out of attempted tackles by Matt Currie and James Lang and ran in a simple score which Lombard converted.
Edinburgh’s response was immediate as they once again utilised the lineout maul to good effect, Luke Crosbie setting up the platform and Muncaster finishing things off. Boffelli converted.
But try as they might, Edinburgh couldn’t shake off the Lions who drew level again five minutes later. Good work by replacement Ruhan Straeuli opened the door for Franke Horn and the No 8 finished, with Lombard adding the extras.
The stand-off then turned the screw, landing a 74th minute penalty to put the Lions ahead for the first time in the match. It all came from a wild hack upfield. Graham won the foot race but was penalised for not releasing and exacerbated his injury in the process on what was a sore night for the capital outfit.
Edinburgh scorers: Tries – Mata, Graham, Muncaster. Cons – Boffelli 2.
Lions scorers: Tries – Coetzee, van Wyk, F Horn. Cons – Lombard 2. Pen – Lombard.
Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Darcy Graham (Charlie Savala , Matt Currie (Chris Dean 61), James Lang, Emiliano Boffelli; Blair Kinghorn, Henry Pyrgos; Boan Venter (Pierre Schoeman 47), Stuart McInally (Dave Cherry 6), Luan de Bruin (WP Nel 37), Glen Young (Marshall Sykes 24-33; 70), Grant Gilchrist (c), Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson (Ben Muncaster 46), Viliame Mata. Replacement: Charlie Shiel.
Emirates Lions: Andries Coetzee; Stean Pienaar, Henco van Wyk, Marius Louw, Quan Horn; Gianni Lombard (Jordan Hendrikse 75), Sanele Nohamba (Morne van den Berg 50); Sti Sithole (JP Smith 54), PJ Botha (Jaco Visagie 47), Ruan Dreyer (Ruan Smith 54), Pieter Jansen van Vuren (Emmanuel Tshituka 78), Reinhard Nothnagel (c), Sibusiso Sangweni (Ruhan Straeuli 56), Ruan Venter, Francke Horn. Replacement: Zander du Plessis.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)