It was another home win for Edinburgh tonight, but a late lapse in discipline may yet cost Edinburgh as it allowed Cardiff a losing bonus point, despite this being a game Edinburgh controlled for great periods.
The league’s top try-scorer Tim Visser forced a few too many of the chances that came his way in the first half, but he was on the end of some pretty poor passing as well as a shoulder barge from Cardiff centre Laulala that may not have helped his concentration. The one he did turn into a try was off a pass that was a mile forward from Nick De Luca, but it represented a period when Edinburgh dominated possession if not necessarily territory, and deserved to be ahead in the game.
At stand-off, Greig Laidlaw controlled the first half well and wasn’t afraid to run the ball or tackle anyone. It was almost as if he was offering a direct counterpoint to his Cardiff equivalent Dan Parks, who kicked too much and was protected in defence.
Laidlaw may emerge as a clear challenger to Parks as Scotland’s back-up 10 if he keeps playing like this. Speaking afterwards, he said “the boys dug in really well and we’re delighted with the win, the forwards gave me good options and gave me a good platform. I like short options against a blitz D[efence] when I’m playing ten.”
“We were able to pick them apart quite easily.”
Man of the Match Netani Talei was at the heart of the Edinburgh pack going forward; he was brought in to add ballast after they struggled last week and he did just that, freeing up Roddy Grant to spoil Cardiff ball and keep their hefty pack from running rampant. Overall the defence was a lot more secure than last weekend in Wales.
Parks wasn’t having a horrible game for Cardiff, but was relieved of the kicking duties late on. In fairness the range of the penalty kick in question was more Leigh Halfpenny’s cup of tea, and the Welshman confidently snatched the bonus point.
Parks had the last laugh in the match though, kicking the ball into Murrayfield’s East stand (to resounding boos) after a period of keep-ball that saw Cardiff come away with probably the minimum they would have hoped for.
“Credit to Cardiff for getting the bonus point,” Laidlaw added. “If they couldn’t get a win they would get a bonus point, and they did that.”
Edinburgh Coach Michael Bradley heralded a much improved performance: “The quality of work at the breakdown was much better and we were able to put huge pressure on Cardiff.” That pressure meant that “the rest of our game fell into place for large portions of the match,” he continued.
The win could now see the capital side progress from the pool stages for the first time since 2004.
“3 wins out of 4 in this competition is not a bad start.”
Man of the Match: Netani Talei
Edinburgh: Chris Paterson, Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, James King, Tim Visser, Greig Laidlaw (capt), Mike Blair, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, David Denton, Roddy Grant, Netani Talei.
Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Kyle Traynor, Jack Gilding, Esteban Lozada, Ross Rennie, Phil Godman, Matt Scott, Tom Brown.
Cardiff Blues: Leigh Halfpenny; Gavin Evans, Casey Laulala, Jamie Roberts, Chris Czekaj; Dan Parks, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins, Rhys Thomas, Taufa’ao Filise, Bradley Davies, Paul Tito (capt), Michael Paterson, Sam Warburton, Xavier Rush.
Replacements: Ryan Tyrell, John Yapp, Scott Andrews, Josh Navidi, Maama Molitika, Richie Rees, Ceri Sweeney, Dafydd Hewitt.