Edinburgh took on the Ospreys at Meggetland because of a pitch change enforced to allow Murrayfield ground staff to fight the worms ahead of the clash with France next week.
This gave Edinburgh a chance to shoe-horn as many of their season ticket supporters as possible into a smaller ground with the resulting rowdy atmosphere at the home of Boroughmuir. And while the Ospreys took an early lead with a Jeff Hassler try on only 6 minutes, Edinburgh came surging back with an excellently worked try from Sam Beard and two opportunistic snipes from livewire Grayson Hart.
There may not have been too many well-kent Scots names on show but it was one of them who really set the first half alight in Jack Cuthbert, ending a period of aerial ping-pong with a bit of hot-shoe shuffling that confused the two defenders he then powered through and pinned his defender to put Sam Beard clear for the run in outside him.
Grayson Hart took advantage of slack defending twice to sprint through a hole that shouldn’t really have been there, and for his second try he dove over from short range round the blindside of a ruck. The second was notable for a period when Edinburgh had Geoff Cross in the sin-bin for a tackle offence – although Peter Fitzgibbon repeatedly saw something in his scrummaging to dislike that Steve Walsh didn’t last weekend – and instead of wilting and conceding a truckload of points in that period to put the game out of touch, Edinburgh actually upped their intensity. They marched up the pitch and when Hart ducked over, Bezuidenhout converted from out wide to give Edinburgh a half time lead of 22-11.
This being a Scottish team, Edinburgh, who were now chasing a try bonus point, instead let Ospreys back into the game and the boot of Dan Biggar slowly narrowed the gap on the scoreboard. With Nel on temporarily, the scrums had been more to referee Fitzgibbon’s liking (perhaps why Nel is keeping Cross on the bench most weeks), but with the return of our man Girth the spectre of a yellow card loomed again as the scrums continued messily.
Although there were plenty of unfamiliar names there was also the heartening sight of Ross Ford putting in a strong ball-carrying and line-out performance, and Roddy Grant making the usual nuisance of himself.
The Ospreys were grimly committed to clawing this game back though and Hassler sped onto another try, touched down in extremely dubious circumstances but enough to satisfy the TMO. The Meggetland crowd kept on top of Biggar who scuffed the conversion but with 20 minutes to play it was 25-22.
Some great hands from Cornell Du Preez and Grant Gilchrist got the Edinburgh offloading machine right back up the park until a knock-on scuppered things as usual, however Bezuidenhout took a penalty very well moments later to edge the scoreboard back out to 28-22.
Cuthbert made his reappearance in the game then, carrying the restart back into the Ospreys half to the delight of the home support. Dougie Fife too was desperately looking for a gap to scamper through as the game broke up and both sides tired, threatening a nervy last ten minutes.
Biggar and the Ospreys had the pick of it, with Italian scrum-half Tito Tibaldi keeping the pace up, but when the Ospreys spilled it Dougie Fife was in a foot race back up the park until it was guddled into touch. Breathless stuff, although again Fitzgibbon was being a stickler for some things and letting others – such as the Ospreys player holding on to the ball whilst surrounded – go.
Edinburgh almost broke through seconds later but the ball was spilled frantically short of the line, Ashley Beck receiving a card for his troubles. Bezuidenhout kicked the penalty which should have put the result to bed, but replacement second row Ollie Atkins was sent off the park himself and the Ospreys had another chance to go for an improbable win.
Luckily captain Mike Coman was wise to their efforts and held his man up in a choke tackle to guarantee the final whistle went Edinburgh’s way.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Jack Cuthbert put in a huge effort in defence and had several barnstorming runs, one of which set up the second try. Izaak Van Der Westhuizen and Grant Gilchrist were also both very impressive.