Black and Blue and In Need Of Option Two

Cardiff Blues 25 – 8 Edinburgh Rugby

We’ve become accustomed to seeing Edinburgh romp in with tries. Edinburgh are the entertainers. The offloading chancers who have been able to score more than the opposition if that’s what a win needs. Down in Cardiff, though, when faced with the brutes in blue they seized up and played a game they could never win.

The first half was a fairly even affair. For a lot of that forty minutes there was no shape and this was demonstrated in the first 10 when McInally made a half break into an unseen bit of space in the opponent 22. The ball was popped along and, with the field in front of him shattered, Nick De Luca opted to try the drop goal. He hit it well but the ball rocketed off the post and Cardiff scrambled to clear their lines. This was the type of game Edinburgh played for the first part of the half.

As Edinburgh tried to play in the open with their plan A –hitting up with Denton in the middle and Visser out wide –Cardiff’s own plan A looked to be taking shape. They ran with a blitz in defence, scratching interference in the ruck and a dull thud in attack.

The first points were scored from Cardiff’s sizeable pack chipping away into Edinburgh territory and as they shoed players in black out of the way Dan Parks sat well behind his enforcers and fired a drop goal between the posts. 3-0 to the hosts after 15minutes.

 The game was perhaps tense because of how important it was. With both teams unbeaten the winner would have the advantage in the group to take to Murrayfield next week. Instead of inspiring both teams to let balls fly and imaginations to fizz they both opted to for the dull option of tightening up.

The problem with this was that Cardiff were better at it than Edinburgh.

The half ended with a kick to Laidlaw’s name and another to Parks. The score at the whistle was 6-3 and there was a hope that Edinburgh could hang in there and maybe rob a result. However they were getting manipulated and tugged up front by the veterans Paul Tito and Xavier Rush and bludgeoned by the likes of Warburton and Laulala. This was too much for young Harry Leonard who looked fearful of the blues blitz and he was substituted out for Mike Blair after 36 minutes.

This certainly affected the second half. Edinburgh’s backline looked a bit flatter and they came out knowing they were in a game. Unfortunately for them Cardiff came out in the second half even more determined to bore their way to victory.

Parks hit another three three-pointers as the Cardiff pack punched forward for phase after phase, bossing breakdowns and nipping away at the fringes. The game was at 15-3 before Edinburgh’s pack had time to rest their shoulders and all they could do was give away penalties. They could not help but be demoralised. As Denton, who had worked tirelessly all game, was shunted back from a huge handoff by Rush you could tell it was not their day. It was boring and it was mono-paced, but it was effective.

Edinburgh pulled back a score of their own when Visser drew an overlap and popped to Jones, but Parks kicked another drop-goal and then the blitzing prop Andrews caught an interception and fed Warburton who hit Cuthbert. He scored in the corner and the game ended a lopsided 25-8.

Edinburgh spent too much time taking on a bigger pack in tight exchanges and doing what they have been doing for weeks in the open. Visser and Jones had no room to run and Michael Bradley was shown that his troupe of ‘Globetrotters’ really need to play more penetrative rugby if they are to progress from this group. In the end Cardiff’s drab tactics won out against Edinburgh’s unchanging and easily absorbed Plan A.

Cardiff Blues: Halfpenny; Cuthbert, Laulala, Roberts, Czekaj; Parks, L. Williams; G. Jenkins, T. Thomas, Filise, B. Davies, Tito, Paterson, Warburton, Rush.

Subs: Evans, Yapp, Tyrell, Andrews, Molitika, Navidi, Sweeney, Rees.

Edinburgh: Paterson; Jones, De Luca, King, Visser; Leonard, Laidlaw; Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Cox, Lozada, Denton, Grant, McInally.

Subs: T. Brown, M. Blair, S. Turnbull, Rennie, Houston, Lawrie, Traynor, Gilding.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.