Edinburgh gave cult hero prop Allan Jacobsen the perfect send-off with a hard-fought win over a gutsy Dragons side in appalling conditions at Murrayfield this evening.
Jacobsen, making his 285th and final Edinburgh appearance, led the side out to rapturous acclaim from the Murrayfield faithful, and lasted the entire 80 minutes before once again receiving their adulation at full-time.
After the match he said: “I hadn’t really been thinking about it much until I got in the car and you realise it’s the last time you’ll drive in, the last pre-match warm-up, so that’s been on my mind tonight.
“I’ve had a great time, and I’ve made so many great friends both with Edinburgh and Scotland, so I’d just like to say – thank you.”
The match itself was a scrappy affair, with the visitors making the brighter of the opening exchanges. One of their soon-to-be British Lions, Toby Faletau, capitalised on some sloppy defending to feed stand-off Steffan Jones who scored the evening’s first try.
Tom Prydie added the extras, before Jones himself failed with a long-range attempt as Stevie Scott’s charges struggled to get a foothold in the game early on.
The home side got themselves back into the match shortly after, though, thanks to powerful carries from another of the departing players, Fiji captain Netani Talei, and Grant Gilchrist, which created space out wide.
Leonard’s pin-point kick exploited the space out wide for Tonks to score – the full-back further enhancing his chances for inclusion in Scott Johnson’s Scotland squad to tour South Africa with Hogg on Lions duty.
Another sure to be on that tour is Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw, and the scrum-half proved his worth, perhaps with Warren Gatland in mind, as he first landed the conversion of Tonks’ try before sneaking over himself to put the hosts in front.
Laidlaw then orchestrated a period of concerted pressure on the Dragons line, and the pressure told as the home side crossed for their third try. It was that man Talei, a firm fans’ favourite since his arrival in 2010.
In typical Talei fashion, he shrugged off three tackles to power over, before Laidlaw again added the extras. At this stage, it was all plain sailing for the hosts, who led 19-7.
Laidlaw then added two further penalties, either side of Tom Pyrdie’s three-pointer to seemingly give the visitors too much to do at the break – as they trailed an impressive Edinburgh side, 25-10.
The magnificent Laidlaw added a further penalty shortly following the interval, before narrowly missing out with a further attempt from long-range.
However, inspired by their Lions back-row stars, the Welshmen took the ascendency and got back into the game with two tries inside five minutes to stun the Murrayfield crowd.
First, Dan Lydiate escaped a poor tackle in the Edinburgh defence to scamper over under the posts, before Prydie capitalised on a wayward pass from Nick De Luca to run in unopposed. The Wales winger added the extras to both tries, and suddenly it was ‘game on’ again at 31-24.
Despite their best efforts, Dragons could not make the breakthrough they craved and clever work from Laidlaw and Piers Francis saw the game out, to mark a fitting end to an incredible career for Scotland’s most capped prop.