As Glasgow sunk to another defeat, faint hope turned to Edinburgh to salvage some sort of good feeling from the last two weekends of Heineken Cup action. And it was faint indeed, with Edinburgh’s recent record in Europe miserable save for a snatched victory over Munster and their away record in all competitions equally poor this season.
Alan Solomons sent out a team to play Gloucester at Kingsholm almost unrecognisable from the one that flourished two seasons ago in this competition. Goal kicker? Jack Cuthbert. Standoff? Greig Tonks. Other Scots? Not too many.
Didn’t fill you with confidence.
Edinburgh though, had clearly worked on their defence since last weekend’s defeat to the same opposition, and for once their tactical approach was spot on.
They may be Scottish only in small parts, but today they played with the heart we expect from a Scottish team.
The conditions were wet and miserable as the game kicked off, and they kept their defensive shape, kicking plenty of high balls to the talented Gloucester backs and playing the territory. When the high balls came back, Cuthbert fielded them excellently; his Two Stooges moment with Tonks last week long forgotten. His goal kicking too was excellent in the conditions, save for one comical scuff caused by a slipping ball – and even that ended up in an Edinburgh scrum.
As conditions improved later in the game, Edinburgh opened up a bit and their effort to retain possession and careful offloading made Gloucester’s attempts to chase the game very difficult in front of an abrasive Shed crowd. Meanwhile the home team didn’t play to their strengths; their driving maul blew Edinburgh apart for their try, but they tried the running game too often instead.
So it wasn’t the Gloucester of old, but this was an important win for Edinburgh nonetheless. They’ve been criticised for the amount of imported players, and it was one of those men Ben Atiga who took his try well, while another in Grayson Hart was the heartbeat (geddit) of the Edinburgh performance. He tackled like (late withdrawl) Laidlaw would, but his slightly extra size allows him that extra bit of power in the tackle and he was a constant presence in all areas of the pitch. He looked totally assured behind the ruck too, rather than stuttering to decide which way to take play next.
Cornell Du Preez was also excellent, as were Scots Roddy Grant, Cuthbert, Tonks and Dougie Fife who was unlucky not to get on the scoreboard on a couple of occasions.
The set-piece was still a worry with Ford and the props still unable to exert influence, despite Ford having generally one of his better games in the loose and even up for a bit of niggle.
Gilchrist carried well, and WP Nel almost got a try that might have denied Gloucester the bonus. With Munster ahead but the remaining three teams in Pool 6 between 7-9 points, that could have been an important knock on for someone come the closing stages.
Perhaps even for Edinburgh?
SRBlog Man of the Match: Grayson Hart