'He gives me the heebie-jeebies' - the Edinburgh star causing Mike Blair anxiety attacks

If there is one obvious common factor to Edinburgh’s two performances thus far this season, it is their slow start.

Against a mediocre Dragons side on matchday one they were 6-0 down before getting their act together and winning 44-6 at a canter. Against an altogether more formidable Bulls outfit in Pretoria on Saturday they were 15-0 behind midway through the half and eventually lost out 33-31.

But Jamie Ritchie, for one, did not believe his team’s sluggish beginning to the match at Loftus Versfeld was the determining factor in their defeat. Instead, the forward said the main drawback was the lack of discipline, a fault which saw his co-captain Grant Gilchrist sinbinned for repeated team offences in the first half.

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Ritchie also pointed out that Edinburgh had recovered well from that early deficit to take the lead with ten minutes to go before a late penalty by veteran Morne Steyn nudged the Bulls back in front - and an even later kick at goal by Edinburgh full-back Henry Immelman went wide.

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“We went into that game with three pillars that we wanted to pride ourselves on: work rate, physicality and discipline,” Ritchie said. “I think two of those three were probably spot-on - work rate and physicality. I just think we need to get our discipline a bit right.

“The game was very much in our hands with ten minutes to go. That penalty we gave away which Morne Steyn kicked over - if we’d not given that away I think we probably would have won the game.

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“Hindsight is 20:20. If we hadn’t given them 15 points at the start, then we might have won by 15 points. You don’t know.

“We had a slow start, but I think the way that we reacted to that was outstanding. We bounced back and we came back before half-time.

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Edinburgh's Darcy Graham scored a hat-trick of tries in the 33-31 defeat to Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“I think we did a lot of things really well, a lot of things we spoke about during the week. I thought we played really well and there’s a lot to take into this week.”

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Mark Bennett converted three of Edinburgh’s five tries, of which Charlie Savala scored the first and Damien Hoyland the last. Darcy Graham got the other three, although Mike Blair admitted to being made to feel rather anxious by the casual way in which the winger finished off his scores.

“I’ve spoken to him already about putting the ball down with two hands, because he gives me the heebie-jeebies when he puts the ball down one-handed when it’s sweating,” the head coach said before going on to praise Graham’s brilliance. “He is outstanding. The third try with Darcy’s score in the corner was just another of those brilliant moments.

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“The first try he set off on his right foot, it looked like he was doing it at half-pace the way he beat that last man. He is in some form at the moment.”

Edinburgh are now back in Cape Town, where they will play the Stormers on Saturday. Blair Kinghorn should be fit to play in that match after being ruled out of the Bulls game because of a stomach bug, although Mark Bennett and Jaco van der Walt are doubts after suffering head injuries and Gilchrist sustained a cut to a hand which will need assessment before he is cleared.

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