Edinburgh’s hopes of claiming a play-off place in Pro14 Conference B were dealt a damaging blow last night as they surrendered a 17-0 lead to Cardiff Blues.
With Ulster and Benetton both recording big wins, Richard Cockerill’s side are now down to fourth in the table with five rounds of the regular season to play, and the losing bonus point came as little or no consolation after they had been on top for so much of the match.
After an even start, it was Edinburgh who struck first. Hooker David Cherry sprinted into open prairie from a lineout around halfway, and scrum-half Nathan Fowles was up in support to claim the pop-up pass and run in the try, which Jaco van der Walt converted.
They soon doubled their lead, Fowles turning instigator this time, darting clear from the back of a ruck then slinging the scoring pass to Bill Mata. Van der Walt again converted.
Both teams replaced their full-backs at half-time, former Edinburgh back Jason Harries coming on for Dan Fish and Simon Hickey substituting for Dougie Fife – although it was Van der Walt who dropped back to 15 with Hickey taking over at stand-off. The home team kept Cardiff pinned back in their own half for the first ten minutes and more of the second 40, thanks in no small part to Van der Walt’s precise kicking from hand. And, when the next scoring opportunity presented itself, it was the South African who took advantage, dinking over a penalty from in front of the posts.
However, Blues Flanker Olly Robinson broke and found Harries, whose pass put Liam Williams clear for a try which Jarrod Evans converted.
Encouraged by that opening of their account, Cardiff were soon back on the attack, and scored again just past the hour mark. A lineout on the left established the platform, an apparent misreading by the Edinburgh defence allowed an overlap on the right, and Harries was there to run it in.
The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but the momentum was now firmly with Cardiff. Bennett then came off the bench, replacing Duhan van der Merwe, as Edinburgh sought to re-establish control. But it was Cardiff who finished the stronger, with Harries scoring again in the left corner ten minutes from time. Evans’ conversion put the Blues ahead for the first time, and they had little difficulty in staying in front.