Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Edinburgh 17-20 Ulster

Jack Cuthbert and Tim Visser - pic © Al Ross
Jack Cuthbert and Tim Visser - pic © Al Ross

A great early try from Edinburgh got them off to the best possible start at BT Murrayfield with the impressive Neil Cochrane, Hamish Watson and Roddy Grant breaking from a turnover that would put the backs to shame. It was recycled and Phil Burleigh slid over in the corner.

The visiting Ulster side had plenty of big names including Nick Williams and Roger Wilson but it was Ruan Pienaar who got them on the board with a dive over the line from a ruck close in.

A later penalty from Tom Heathcote restored the Edinburgh lead but the standoff – who it was announced this week is moving to Worcester Warriors – also missed his conversion and another penalty.

Ulster helped Vern Cotter in his quest to find a player solid under the high ball with plenty of chip kicks and up and unders. Unfortunately on Jack Cuthbert was of any great note and the Edinburgh full back put in some strong runs. After #finnocent this week it looks like the up and under could become a worrying new tactic to eke out penalties, as the scrum has become.

In an otherwise well-matched half, Pienaar and Heathcote (x2) exchanged further penalties before a scrappy last five minutes where both sides tried frantically to snatch momentum. Neither side was particularly successful.

HT: Edinburgh 14-10 Ulster

After some unexpectedly good play by Visser under another high ball, Heathcote had another missed penalty. He would have wanted to make an impression with a vacant 10 shirt for the Italy game and while his kicking was poor, his defence in the face of big Ulster runners was strong. Bringing down Nick Williams is no easy feat. He then gave away an offside penalty that resulted in an attacking lineout for Ulster, backed by a surprisingly loud travelling support.

To spare Heathcote’s blushes, Ulster only came away with 3 points, closing the gap to a single point. Hugh Blake was on for Mike Coman and Atkins for Toolis (rested for the weekend perhaps?). Blake even took a high ball – someone tell Vern – but couldn’t stop Nick Williams in full flight and the big man put in a perfectly timed offload to Darren Cave who burst through for the try and to retake the lead.

Just as Ulster were exerting a stranglehold on the game, Hodges made a big call to red card Stuart McCloskey for upending Hamish Watson. It was more like handstand practice than a spear tackle but it was a mighty gift for Edinburgh. They followed it up with another penalty as Williams chopped an Edinburgh attacker’s legs out from under him and Ulster found themselves on a further warning.

Ulster’s defensive line speed was rapid even with a man down and while Edinburgh struggled to find space out wide, they earned another kick. Heathcote missed, bringing the total left wide of the posts to 17 points for the evening.

Replacement hooked James Hilterbrand blew one of several lineouts close to the Ulster line with a squint throw and even as Hodges followed through and sent Franco Van Der Merwe to the bin, Edinburgh foolishly kicked for the corner rather than getting even then going for the win against 13 men.

As it was, Blake fumbled it inches from the line and Ulster held out to the roars of the visiting fans.

Ulster will look at it as winning ugly despite the best efforts of the referee, but Edinburgh will probably want to drink themselves to forgetfulness over this one, even if they are only allowed protein shakes…

SRBlog Man of the Match: Neil Cochrane was excellent. Cuthbert had his moments. Substituted just after half time for the ineffectual Hilterbrand, Cochrane should have it for being blameless in the madness of the second half.

16 Responses

  1. Missed the game due to work – how did the Scotland boys get on? Anyone put their hands up for selection? Toolis, in particular.


  2. Awful last twenty with the wrong decision taken time and again. No plan when they got to the Ulster try line. Hart was pretty average and seemed unable to pass the ball with any rapidity all night. Heathcotes place kicking was dire and yet he persisted in going for the posts from the ten metre line even though he was wildly off target and struggling to get the distance every time.

    Watson and cochrane were good, cuthbert was good also, Visser had a fine game i thought despite not seeing much ball, his kick chase was solid. Lack of guile in midfield and lack of pace in the pass from the half backs was their downfall tonight.

    Two man advantage in last minute and they went up the blindside where Ulster had multiple tacklers waiting, how brainless are these lads???

  3. I think Hilterbrand should be on the plane home this morning. Minimum water bearer for the rest of his contract. Heathcote should have said no to kicking when it was plain he’d left his kicking boots at home. Madness not to kick to get a minimum of a draw when presented with the easy chance for er…Heathcote. I hadn’t realised Coman was off too. That was a big mistake – what was plain at the end was the total lack of leadership on the field but ultimately two people contributed significantly to Edinburgh losing that game and both their surnames begin with H.

  4. I paid £25 to watch what load of tosh. wont be back in a hurry. to throw squint at a line out when Ulster were 1 then 2 men down and would not attack the throw what nonsense.

  5. Guff guff and more guff. Edinburgh are just an embarrassment and a disgrace. They would struggle to beat a public park team. Glasgow won tonight in a great game. Edinburgh are just rubbish. They should be made to apologise to the fans that dished out 25 quid to watch this bunch of losers. I don’t think they even deserve to be called a Scottish team.

  6. Big man/Neil – it’s a shame you didn’t take the opportunity of using a new moniker to also participate in these boards in a less provocative way, but never mind.

    Anyway, I could only listen to the Glasgow game on the radio. Did anyone watch it online? Any chance Horne has played himself into the starting line up to play Italy? How did Will Bordill acquit himself against Tipuric?

    Also, it sounded like we relied on Nico and DTH for line breaks. If Glasgow are to mount a credible title challenge next year they need NSQs who can bring this level of performance and inspiration during the AIs and 6N. Hopefully Townshend has some ideas.

    1. Ground out a win. Horne was steady but his kicking game is not good enough for test rugby on tonight’s shoeing. Front row was superb tonight.

  7. Just back from the game. Tight match tonight littered with errors and pedantic refereeing by a certain Mr Clancy. Horne did ok, kicking to touch was good tonight, although not brilliant from hand. I like Horne and I would be tempted to play him for Scotland as he won’t have place kicking duties. Price and Bordill were solid and safe, Tipuric is different class though. Glasgow did rely overly on DTH and Niko for line breaks but that is partly due to the fact that Vernon is never a centre. Not got the hands or enough gas to play 13. At a push maybe 12 but I much prefer him at 6 and don’t really understand the positional switch. Not a good performance tonight but a wins a win and it one stage it looked like we might lose.

    1. Yes, I guess with a converted flanker at 13 and a 12 just entering the pro-ranks at 26 from the club game we were going to be short of midfield invention. Sounds like Lyle has stepped up well enough though.

    2. I wanted to ask about the Vernon switch – how’s it going in your opinion? (Based on what you’ve said, not great)

      I really only get a chance to watch the highlights of the games due to work commitments and living abroad and he’s never really stood out for me, but would be interested to get more of an idea from somebody who’s seen him live. Is there scope for development there, or is it looking like a mistake?

      When he was put there, and I believe it followed from discussion between Gregor Townsend and Scott Johnson?, I thought it was an interesting call as he’s always struck me as somebody with a fair bit of pace (at least for a guy of his size) but maybe lacked the physicality to play back row. Plus, the competition for back row places has always been pretty tough I guess. However, I’d certainly much rather see him play in the back row than somebody like Ryan Wilson.

      Any thoughts would be appreciated – if it doesn’t work out for him in the centers, will he make the switch back I wonder?

      1. Personally I’m not convinced about the switch. I’m not sure how long it’s been, 2 years now at a guess. I always felt Vernon was a decent Pro12 level back row player, if not quite international class. For a 13 he just isn’t quick enough, he doesn’t have decent enough hands or the kicking game to be a back. Funnily enough I thought he played very well at No8 against Bath, which highlighted to me that he is naturally a forward. I think he’s a good enough player, just now in the wrong position. I personally think the switch was a case of needs must and I would put him back in the forwards, especially with Wilson’s days looking numbered.

      2. Nice one, cheers for the feedback.

        I know he came back to Glasgow at the end of 2013, so I can only presume he’s been playing at center since then but it is a bit of a funny one, how long do you give the guy to really prove himself in that position. I was actually surprised to see that he’d won 20 caps, I really didn’t think he had as many as that, shows how much I know.

        And yeah, I agree re Wilson. I would be surprised to see him back in there, I didn’t see much in him last year that convinced me he could be useful so hopefully Vernon is ahead of him the pecking order.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion