EDINBURGH’S international scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne admits he was tortured by the botched drop-goal attempt which cost his team victory in their last Guinness Pro12 outing, but is confident of getting back to winning ways against the Dragons tonight.
Alan Solomons’ team welcome the Welsh side to BT Murrayfield eager to take the confidence of two wins in Europe into reinvigorating a league campaign which had stuttered from four straight wins to three losses on the bounce.
The last of those defeats came at home to Munster almost three weeks ago when Edinburgh, trailing by two points in the last play of the match, were pressing the Irish line and Hidalgo-Clyne attempted a snap drop-goal in front of the posts but was charged down and the Irish side escaped with a 16-14 win.
“It was breaking me all weekend,” said Hidalgo-Clyne, who will resume his half-back partnership with Phil Burleigh tonight, of that disappointment. “It’s one of these things. You can be hero to zero in a second. If it had paid off we would have won the game, but instead I lost us it.
“It’s something I’ve got to take on the chin and learn from. I’m sure I’ll be in another position where ten is sin-binned and you’ve just got to keep things tight. I felt the guys were getting tired and that was the best option under the posts.
“Reflecting on it now, was it or was it not? It’s gone now and I made sure I played better the following week.”
Hidalgo-Clyne played in the win over Grenoble but was rested last week in Agen. The 22-year-old is back in the starting line-up tonight, with Burleigh also returning from injury.
They are two of seven changes, a couple positional, made by Solomons with Greig Tonks shifting back to full-back in place of Dougie Fife.
Tom Brown retains his spot on the right wing, while Will Helu moves to the left; accommodating young centre Chris Dean, who is promoted from the bench to partner Matt Scott in midfield.
Lock Alex Toolis comes in to replace the injured Anton Bresler and partners Fraser McKenzie in the second row. Skipper Mike Coman is at blindside to replace the injured Nasi Manu alongside No 8 Cornell Du Preez and John Hardie. Centre/wing Mike Allen, who arrived from Ulster in the summer, could make his debut off the bench, having recovered from his shoulder injury sustained in pre-season.
It was breaking me all weekend. You can be hero to zero in a second. If it had paid off we would have won, but instead I lost us itSam Hidalgo-Clyne
Hidalgo-Clyne is looking forward to teaming back up with Burleigh.
“I always enjoy playing with Phil,” he explained. “He’s a right-footer and we have Tonksy at full-back who is a left-foooter. It gives us two options and Phil has a good running game, he likes to take it flat. It’s nice to change up now and again.”
This feels like a must-win game for Edinburgh against a side who have only beaten Zebre and Treviso in the Pro12 this season but, while the home fans are craving tries from a team who are yet to register four in a game this season, it could be another grind. With rain and sleet and low single-figure temperatures forecast for this evening it may not be an evening for expansive rugby. Hidalgo-Clyne reckons that is just something you have to accept as winter takes grip.
He said: “You obviously have to play the conditions at this time of year which are awful. Every week pretty much you are guaranteed to be playing with a wet ball. Even if it’s not raining then with night-time games the dew is there. We have plenty of options now but sometimes you just have to go with the dominant one. If it’s working then great but we have to have a Plan B and ability to adapt also.
“The pack is unbelievable here. It makes such a difference when you’re going forward. It almost stops us playing rugby a bit when you are winning penalties from every scrum and mauling 20 metres to score, which is brilliant. But when you play against your Leinsters and Munsters, who can stop that, you need a Plan B and that’s what we are working on.”
The scrum-half would have no problems with an ugly win tonight. “That game that Munster played a couple weeks ago, they didn’t do anything special, just kept things tight and scraped a win,” he recalled. “A lot of the time it’s not going to be fancy rugby and, as much as the fans want it, it just can’t be.
“We are playing to be in the top four, at least in the top six, and playing Champions Cup rugby. We want to get out of this Challenge Cup, play the best clubs in the world and see how far we can go.
“So whatever we can do to get that win this weekend and get back on track we will do.”