Rory here, we have a special match report in today from blogger – and yet another Al – Al T, with a report direct from the first encounter with one of the new Italian sides in the Magners League. So without further ado, here’s our third Al with his special report!
Aironi Rugby 9 – 10 Edinburgh
As muggings go, this was a fairly big one. Edinburgh were all but murdered in the scrum for the best part of 60 minutes, and showed all the attacking prowess of plankton for pretty much the full 80, yet somehow managed to sneak out of Italy with 4 points.
Rob Moffat might say in public he feels vindicated for arsing around with the team from last week, but I’m sure, secretly, the man knows he was well within a baw-hair (and 3 missing minutes) of handing Aironi their first win of the season.
Aironi played as expected, with their big guns back in the team after being rested (expressly for this game) last week against the O-spray-on tan clan, throwing new signing Rodd Penney straight into the starting line up to add extra bite.
From an Edinburgh perspective, around half time this game started to look ominously like Scotland vs Italy games of recent years. Not a lot really working, Edinburgh sitting back desperately trying not to lose the game. The Italians on the other hand were getting stuck into us with the venom that we usually reserve for our cousins south of the border. Chunk must have noticed this too, because as soon as the prop come fly-half came on the field, he took a swing at his opposite number, and proceeded to do this for the remainder of the game. It’s worth noting, that without Jacobsen, Edinburgh would have surely and deservedly lost this game. Not to dwell on the negative but, I’ve not seen Edinburgh’s backs look so painfully out of sorts this season, and they have been distinctly average so far, so to notice this… well, it can’t be good. If I had a quid for every time I saw one of Edinburgh’s centres pass the ball behind their winger, or one of the halfbacks aimlessly hump the ball up the center of the park, I could afford to buy you a pint… not in Edinburgh mind.
The Embra pack needs to have a word with itself. Looking up ones own arse for 60 minutes is an activity about as constructive as it sounds. A platform that has been arguably punching above its own weight this season, to be reduced to that display on Saturday is worrying. I’ll reserve judgment on the tight 5 however, as this was a serious scrummaging outfit they were pitted against… Which does then beg the question, why did Moffat bench Edinburgh’s best all round prop, and well… all round bloke, Chunk? Did he not look at Aironi’s squad? To say it was short sighted is an understatement – it all but removed the Scrum as an attacking platform for Edinburgh. Nice cheese knife Rob, but this is a gunfight.
Despite all the bile I just vented at the noble and worthwhile forwards, the Edinburgh pack deserve a massive pat on the back for the final 20 minutes for absorbing and then repelling concerted Aironi attacks on the Edinburgh 5 meter line with open side flanker Allan MacDonald in the bin. No mean feat as 5 meter Scrum followed 5 meter scrum, and all came to nothing for the Italians. Bocchino eventually gave up on the attacking lark and banged over 3 points, with 10 minutes left on the clock.
That made it 9 – 3 to the home side with the clock winding down, and with Edinburgh’s inside ball looking about as threatening as Audley Harrison, you would forgive them for thinking they had done enough to win it.
You would have been wrong. Once again the Edinburgh pack (that I’ve just been slagging off) came through, with Chunk sitting at the back of a solid rolling maul, over Edinburgh went, with all the guile of a well fed kimono dragon. Beautiful it was not. David Blair made up for an earlier (albeit long range) missed penalty, by banging over a wide angle left hand side conversion. That made it 9 – 10 to Allan Jacobsen… and that’s how she stayed, with the ref, deciding he’d put you, me, Aironi, Edinburgh, and indeed rugby union out of it’s collective misery by blowing the final whistle about 3 minutes early. The home crowd did not like that one bit, in fact the old fella behind me was so disgusted that he forgot to take his son with him as he raged out of the ground… he didn’t forget to half inch my hip flask mind you.
To sum it up, beating Leinster felt pretty ninja, scraping past Aironi felt like highway robbery… but a win is a win!