Edinburgh 23 – Ospreys 13

There was some surprise this week when Ross Ford was dropped from the Scotland squad. Andy Robinson scorched suggestions that Ford was being rested in favour of giving others a run confirming that the former captain had been dropped describing his play as “one-paced.”

This game was Ford’s chance to step up and show Robinson what the national side would be missing, however his first touch found him penalised for holding on after becoming isolated. Early lineouts were also unlikely to have Robinson regretting his decision.

Neither side were able to string more than a handful of passes together in the early exchanges with the ball being turned over more than a duvet in a brothel. The scrums fared no better with both sides found guilty of infringements both real and imagined. This was partly due to the inexperience of Osprey’s Owen Williams, a 30 year old club player making his professional debut.

Eventually a poor line out from Edinburgh saw Rees bundled into touch and penalised for not releasing the ball allowing Morgan to put the first points on the board.

Straight from the kick off Edinburgh put Ospreys under pressure in their 22 running through a number of phases with some cute passing eventually ending in a penalty after an infringement from Williams in the ruck. Referee David Wilkinson called Ospreys captain Joe Bearton over warning that further infringements from Williams would end up with the rookie prop in the sinbin. Hunter kicked the penalty bringing the scores level.

The Ospreys seemed get their act together but the Edinburgh defence held strong with play going through 17 phases without even troubling the 22. Eventually after another 10 phases the Ospreys found themselves getting closer to the try line only for Ross Ford to emerge with the ball.

However the Ospreys’ efforts were soon rewarded by David Wilkinson after he penalised Edinburgh for not rolling away in the tackle, seeming to blow before the players even hit the deck. Morgan kicked the penalty extending Ospreys lead by 3 points.

The scrappy exchanges continued from the kick off with Rees and Hunter both throwing looping passes running the constant risk of an intercept, however Edinburgh were eventually able to put a number of passes together down the blindside ending with John Yapp crossing the whitewash. Hunter scuffed the conversion but Edinburgh were in the lead.

As half time approached play continued to switch back and forth with errors from both sides. Edinburgh won the ball from an Ospreys line out but a clearance kick from Rees was charged down and Edinburgh found themselves pegged back on the try line. It was a matter of when not if Ospreys would score with Morgan eventually obliging following up with the conversion taking the score to 8-13.

Ospreys seemed to be on top going into the second half however Williams was caught not binding on at the scrum and having lost patience David Wilkinson sent him to the sin bin. Hunter missed the resulting penalty but Sean Cox caught Ospreys trying to take a quick 22 drop out winning Edinburgh a scrum. With Ospreys down to 6 men in the scrum it was perhaps inevitable that Edinburgh would get a penalty and Hunter was able to narrow the deficit to 2 points.

With Ospreys down to 14 men Edinburgh put together a number of phases although the Ospreys defence held strong. Rees and Hunter were both guilty of trying looping passes into no man’s land when other options were available but eventually Edinburgh won a scrum and another penalty with Hunter scraping the ball inside the post putting them ahead as Williams returned to the field.

As the numbers evened up on the field again the momentum was with Edinburgh and Hunter was able to extend the lead to 17-13 after the Ospreys were caught offside. Following the restart Edinburgh put together a number of phases with their confidence building and Tom Brown was unlucky not to get on the end of a cross field kick from Hunter that would have surely seen him cross the whitewash.

The scrum continued to falter for both sides with the referee having a word with both captains and warning he wouldn’t hesitate to flash further cards should the infringements continue.

Edinburgh continued to pile on the pressure and Hunter took the scores to 20-13 after Eli-Walker was penalised for holding on after he found himself isolated when he decided to run the ball rather than clearing his lines.

By this point Edinburgh had 94% of the territory in the 2nd half with the Ospreys showing no indication that they might mount a fight back. However from the restart the ball switched back and forth between the teams with Morgan eventually charging down Hunter’s clearance kick only to be held up short of the line. With the try line in sight Ospreys looked to bring the scores level but were caught holding on and Edinburgh were able to clear.

That would be the end of the Ospreys attack with another player sin binned for infringing at the breakdown. Edinburgh were soon back on top with Tonks going on a barnstorming run up the pitch after not being held in the tackle. He was stopped 10 metres short and Edinburgh seemed to panic fumbling the ball like it might be infected. However referee David Wilkinson brought the play back for offside and Hunter was unable to convert the penalty.

As the clock ticked down Hunter went for a last chance drop goal with an Ospreys player getting a hand to it sending it wide. The ball was touched down behind the try line by a defender earning Edinburgh a 5 metre scrum. Duncan Jones, who until that point had done a fantastic job in shoring up the Ospreys front row, was penalised for coming in at an angle and with the last kick of the game Hunter took the score to 23-13 denying Ospreys the loosing bonus point.

The Edinburgh scrum might struggle against better opposition and basic handling errors don’t do them any favours, however on this showing and with international players due to return to the side there is every chance Edinburgh can still salvage something from this season.

Man of the match: Roddy Grant – Played like a man possessed. He was everywhere in defence and attack. Ross Ford would do well to take notes on how to show Andy Robinson what he’s missing. Sean Cox came a close second with a classic captain’s performance.

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