Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Edinburgh 45-16 Newport Gwent Dragons

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

Newport were first on the board thanks to the boot of Dorian Jones, however for the majority of this European Challenge Cup semi-final it was Edinburgh who showed the intent, turning down kicking opportunities to go for the corner. With the resulting rolling maul collapsing, Welsh Number 8 Taulupe Faletau was sent to the sin bin, allowing Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to score an easy 3 points.

Filling in at 10, Phil Burleigh was taking control of the game with some inch-perfect kicks allowing Edinburgh to win the territorial battle. After a lineout steal, flanker-turned hooker-covering flanker Stuart McInally was able to combine his new-found bulk with his back-row pace, beating the first man and getting Edinburgh into the 22. Phases were then built before McInally got back on the ball again, breaking the tackle to dive over for a superb individual forward’s try.

And the scoreboard kept ticking over. Hidalgo-Clyne made a half-break but couldn’t find the offload. A couple more phases put Edinburgh in the right direction before a skilful out-the-back pass from the scrum-half gave Tim Visser the space to get round the defence for Edinburgh’s 2nd try.

Both kickers increased the scoreboard Edinburgh getting 2 penalties to Newport’s 1, however, it was still the home side with most of the game being played in the Dragons’ half through excellent use of territory. Hidalgo-Clyne had possibly the best of these chances, finding a gap made after Roddy Grant’s little surge up-field. An attempted chip off the outside of his boot, however, failed to make more than a metre.

Half-Time: Edinburgh 21-9 Newport Gwent Dragons

Last weekend against Leinster, the Dragons were 8-22 down at one point, yet came back to win 25-22. And they started the second half in a similar fashion, using a driving maul 5 metres out to set up their first real attack of the day. Edinburgh’s defence has been weak in recent weeks around the maul area and this showed as prop Brok Harris crashed over from short range, Jones’ conversion reducing the deficit to just 5 points.

When in attack, however, Edinburgh continued to look dangerous; one maul making more than 20 metres in ground until Burleigh squirted off the edge before getting held up on the line. Even then Edinburgh profited as Jonathan Evans was awarded yellow for slowing the ball.

An early push in the scrum meant that the ball was lost and the Dragons went for the clearance. Tovey’s kick was then charged down by Ben Toolis and his dive on the ball inches away from the dead-ball line gave the 18st lock Edinburgh’s 3rd try. The conversion, as well as another penalty meant that Edinburgh now lead by 15 with 20 minutes left.

And the tries kept coming. From another scrum, Hidalgo-Clyne’s sharp vision from the base allowing him to nip through the gap before running another 30 metres to score under the posts. His conversion saw him go over 150 points since he first scored for Edinburgh in November last year. Minutes later, Roddy Grant’s rip of the ball, saw Sam Beard gallop into space from 60m out before offloading to Dougie Fife for Edinburgh’s 5th try. Edinburgh’s place in the final was all but secured now…

The final 10 minutes were a much calmer affair, the 8,231 crowd probably already planning their trip to London for the final. The Dragons, however, wanted to attack to the end and although they got within 5 metres of the try line, a knock on meant that the game, and their cup hopes were dashed. Some sympathy should be given to those 3 buses of Dragons supporters who faced a long drive back home to Newport with little to celebrate.

For Edinburgh, a chance for some real silverware beckons…

Final  Score: Edinburgh 45-16 Newport Gwent Dragons

SRBlog Man of the Match: Someone said in the press box at BT Murrayfield last week that the only reason Sam Hidalgo-Clyne didn’t play against Munster was “to let someone else win man of the match.” Although Phil Burleigh was extremely impressive at fly-half, Hidalgo-Clyne once again showed Vern Cotter why he is Scotland’s in-form scrum-half right now.

A version of this article first appeared on RugbyEdinburgh

45 Responses

  1. Great win for Edinburgh and some solid performances. I was expecting more from Dragons after they’d put a string of good results together, including beating Leinster at home. SHC continues to impress, although the Edinburgh forwards were dominant last night. Burleigh looked good, as did Toolis and the front row. Good to see Cornel du Preez back as he was one of the only Edinburgh players to ipress at the start of the year. Hopefully, he’s one of the Scottish project players and gets a run without injury.

  2. A good win but do remember it was only the NG dragons- not exactly the All Blacks are they?

      1. Obviously the All Blacks don’t play in this competition and the fool be you for even thinking that I implied this in my comment. I just don’t want people to get carried away. Sure it was a good result for Edinburgh and I am pleased for them. I genuinely hope that they win in the final. However, if you had been intelegent enough to read between the lines you would have realised the point I was making- Newport Gwent Dragons are a fairly ‘average’ club and we mustnt get carried away with wins over poor-average outfits. The final against Gloucester will be a bit more of a match- if they win that, then they truely are a good team.

      2. It is always a challenge to determine how much of a foll you are being. Edinburgh won a semi final against another team that, like them, had earned the right to play in that semi final. There are no bad teams in finals

        You on the other hand in your typically negative nay sayer world can only put down the last win and look forward to the next defeat.

      3. Angus- I already know you hate me (without much reason in my opinion as you know next to nothing about me) so it really doesnt matter what I have to say but I will reply in any case. Just remember how optomistic everyone was after the Autumn internationals. Most fans, including myself, thought that our team played well and that we had turned a corner. I even predicted a top 3 finnish at one stage. However, we were viewing this with rose coloures specs. If we were realists, we would have considered the following:

        1. We beat a distincltly average Argenitina team in the middle of our winter at Murrayfield. Argentina had only won one game in the previuos three 4 nation tournaments and really were nothing special. We played reasonably well in this game but Argentina clawed back alot of points in the final 15 -20 mins (the warning signs were there) and only arround 10 points separated the teams at the final whistle

        2. We lost out narrowly to the All Blacks but again, the match was played on home soil and their team was almost like a B team.

        3. Next up Tonga- a game we were expected to win against lesser opposition and we got the win that everyone expected but so what. it proved nothing and we shouold have been playing one of the other top SH teams in order to test us.

        4. What most fans overlooked is that the other 6 nation teams also had good results over the same period. In many ways, they were moere impressive than our ones.

        5. Something that is often overlooked is a lack of strenghth in depth. After one or two injuries to ‘key’ players we were unable to match teams such as Wales and Ireland- these teams have double the number of pro clubs and, hence, dounble the number of pro players to chose from, so it is less of a problem for them to deal with if they have a few injuries/suspensions.

        So back to Edinbugh- its great that they have got to a final but lets face it, the teams they have played are nowhere near as good as Toulon, Toulouse, Northampton etc. When they get wins against these outfits then I will be a bit more impressed. Similalry, if Scotland were to beat Ireland, Wales, Egland, OZ, SA or AB then I would be impressed but a win against Tonga- come off it!

      4. Blah blah blah totally irrelevant to this thread oh hang on there’s one sentence about Edinburgh hidden at the end


        But they are improving why can you not handle improvement all you blah blah blah about is wanting to go from bottom of the table to top of the world with a click of your fingers with no credit for the work in progress that is showing improvement – that is what pisses me off about you. Oh and the hijacking of threads and constant regurgitation of the same tired stories in EVERY thread

      5. Angus- exactly what sort of improvement are you talking about. There isn’t any. Our national team are still a joke. Edinburgh have done well to get to the final but the are in the bottom half of the pro12- hardly an achievement. The only positive thing I can see is that Glasgow have had a good season. Perhaps you could spell out exactly what positives there are in our game at both national and international level.

        You seem like a very angry individual- why the grumpy mood? You seemed OK in previous replies but why the sudden change? By the way, are you Ad Nausem- you have a very similar writing style to him and he also comes over as an angry individual. You really need to take a chill pill- after all it is only a game, not life or death. This is only a thred on a blog and not a Watergate Scandal. I suggest that you just take a step back. Also, if you must post a message under the name Ad Nausem at least try to make the message entertaining. At the moment you just bore me.

      6. Neil

        Where did Edinburgh finish in the Pro 12 last year?

        Are they currently in with a chance of making the top 6 and qualifying for the European cup?

        Is that an improvement?

        Are they the first Scottish Pro side to make the final of a European cup tournament?

        Is that not worth of merit?

        This thread is about Edinburgh not Scotland so I will ignore your tangent

        I will happily correct you “ad nauseum” if that’s what it takes lmao

      7. Only someone who never watches Edinburgh play could claim they haven’t improved from last year. Ah, I see…

      8. Neil – I would suggest there is a time and place for the international rugby. This is getting monotenous , there is bigger games in town right now , so keep up.

        I cannot help correcting you on one point. After the Autumn internationals it was not just scots fans that were optimistic and looking forward. Every rugby pundit regardless of their nationality was excited about the prospect of Scotland’s improvement.So they were all deceived as well.No one seen it coming, not even you, so you were in good company Neil.

        Try getting your head round this :

        Toulon got through in extra time against Leinster, who are struggling to get a play off place in the Pro 12 (5th and day light between them and 4th). Not much further ahead than Edinburgh in the league and a good distance behind Glasgow.

        I would say the scots sides are punching above their weight right now, how much more positive can it be and all of this when class players are unavailable in both sides.

        I cannot wait to see Edinburgh against Gloucester.

      9. Just for the record, I really hope Edinburgh win the cup. I stand by the comments I have made about our club and national teams but you wont find anyone cheering harder for Edinburgh than myself. Its just a shame that, being based in the Middle East, I never get the chance to watch club games.

        FF- for the record, I read all the match reports so I have a pretty good idea of how the games went that involved Edinburgh and Glasgow. Can’t do much more at the moment I’m affraid, though I still have strong opinions on how our pro and national teams should be run.

    1. Game at a time Neil. Taking 45 points off a PRO12 side needs a side to maintain structure and work as a team. If they had won by a few points I would understand the poo poo. Good result and exactly what Edinburgh need. Both our Pro Teams are in competition at this stage of what has been a difficult season with injury. Raise a glass to that.

  3. Yes, Neil, we knew it wasn’t the All Blacks because it was a club match not a Test match, and New Zealand team don’t play in the European Challenge Cup last time I looked it up.
    Anyway, well done Edinburgh. A solid performance against a surprisingly erratic and error prone Dragons team given their recent results. Hoping for a final v Gloucester instead of Exeter, who are the stronger Prem team.
    Sam H-C continues to look better and better and Vern has a big choice to make at scrum half for the RWC warm up games.

    1. Gloucester in the final. SHC vs Laidlaw… Cotter’a choice may get a bit easier come May 1st

      1. Yes, ‘Laidlaw v SH-C’. Not exactly High Noon but an interesting match up and chance to compare and contrast, an exercise that will be helped if one pack does not totally dominate the other. Looking forward to the match, and trying to access tickets for it now.

  4. It was finals rugby and it was a question of doing whatever it took to win but having said that they certainly showed their abilities around the park – Well done Edinburgh in what has been a difficult but improving year.

    While it is easy to say they did well against a side that didn’t play to their potential let’s not forget that Edinburgh pressure and defence were in no small way responsible for the Dragons never settling and it continued throughout the match

    What is sad is that if Gloucester win the final they automatically qualify for the European Cup but if Edinburgh win they don’t. They still have to finish at least 6th in the Pro league to qualify

    1. This is a cup competition and one off wins against, for the most part, average teams, dont really mean as much as success in the pro12 leage over the space on an entire season. So I think that Edinburgh should not automatically qualify for the Europen Cup by only finishing 6th in the pro 12- if they were worthy of a place then they should have finnished much higher than 6th. However, I am of the same opinion that Gloucester should not qualify for the European cup if they win the competition. League standings if what should really count.

      1. What are you on about? Finishing 6th in any of the three leagues SHOULD AND WILL automatically qualify you for the Champions Cup. It’s now a 20 club competition, so the top 6 from each league automatically qualify on merit (unless in the unlikely scenario that no team from Scotland or Italy finish in the top 6, in which case the 6th place Irish or Welsh team would miss out). The remaining 2 positions this year will be taken by the top Italian team and a playoff winner (which I think Edinburgh would also qualify for if they finish 7th).

      2. It’s hard to see a qualification system for 6 teams from a league that doesn’t allow a place for the top 6 teams. Maybe the top 4 with 2 spots kept for artistic merit?

      3. Matto

        I am pretty sure that if Gloucester win the Challenge that gets them the qualifying place you think comes from a play off but if Edinburgh win then they don’t. That is what the commentators were saying during the semi

      4. I think an earlier reply got scrubbed as it had a weblink to the ERC site in it. Aye, Glous will get the Aviva playoff spot if they win the Challenge Cup. However, I think Edinburgh can still get into the playoffs with a Pro12 7th place in ‘Match 1’ of the qualifiers. The winner of that then goes on to play 7th place from the French Top 14.

      5. Ah ok Matt, thanks for that info. In the meantime though they still have a chance of 6th don’t they?

        Guess my main point was that the winner of the challenge cup doesn’t automatically qualify for the main cup regardless of where they come from which is a week bit flawed in my opinion

      6. Yes indeed, and I really hope we can do it through that route. If nothing else, for the sake of the national squad, where we really don’t need another two club matches played at the tough end of the season, with an additional 4 internationals to be played before the RWC. As I understand it, it was the decision of the Premiership to award their play off place to any Premiership Club winner of the Challenge Cup, which will otherwise default to the 7th place side in the league.

  5. Great news to see Edinburgh get to the final huge end of season now for both clubs. Only thing I am annoyed with is….why the hell was it not on TV or at least on BBC Scotland another missed opportunity to get some connection with the support and get others interested?? will there be highlights anywhere
    Shame they don’t get a place in the main cup but maybe this is another step to build up momentum to get that 6th place they aren’t that far off it

  6. The match was live on BT Sport. The BBC websites tend to be be a bit petty by not publicising that this is the case. Same with Sky.
    If they don’t have the rights to show a game, then ya boo sucks to anyone who wants to find out it would seem. They’re a bunch of pathetic kids who need a good slap.

      1. thanks for that! now watched lets hope Edinburgh go on from strength to strength and win this cup and get into the top six

      2. What do they have to do to get in the top 6 apart from win games lol? I really should look up the league table and fixtures :)This weekend will be hard for them to focus with the cup final the following week but fingers crossed

      3. We will probably have to win all of our games, pick up a BP from Zebre and hope that Connacht and Scarlets fair poorly. Scarlets have by far the easier run in, whereas we have to go to Dragons (revenge?) and then have Leinster on the last weekend. Scarlets final three games are Dragons, Cardiff and Treviso. If we get into the top 6 we’ll bloody well have earned it!

      4. Certainly sounds like it but that is what it is all about. They will definitely be in a better place by the end of the season than 12 months ago which is the most important thing for me and qualifying 6th and/or winning the cup would be taking it to the next level

        With the Pro 12 is it the top 4 who play off for the championship?

      5. Let’s hope that the Ospreys finish strongly and get a home semi. If Glasgow manage to get through to the final having finished 1st, it would feel a bit tight to be playing Ulster in Belfast…

  7. Edinburgh showed again that they have a very strong pack. With Denton, Du Preez and Gilchrist to come back and Manu coming in next season they have the makings of a very strong unit.

    Still 2 or 3 players away from a decent back division though.

    1. Also add in Magnus Bradbury to the mix. Very impressive in the u20s and BT cup final. Like to see Bradbury, Manu and Coman fighting at 8. Denton, Du Preez fighting for 6 shirt and Watson and Grant fight for openside. Maybe a bit of game time for Ritchie too. Hopefully Dean and Hoyland get more game time too next season.

      1. There’s a few interesting youngsters there.

        Dean and Hoyland, and also Jamie Farndale are now at the age where they need to start making inroads into the team. Richie is the one I’m excited about once he puts on a few kilos although being only 18 it could be a couple of seasons before he is an established first teamer. Interesting to see where the much vaunted Hugh Blake fits in…

  8. Does everyone know the final of this is to be held in a stadium holding under 15,000 people? Shocking match management by the Euro rugby authorities. Despair for many supporting Embra and Glos, and any neutrals, trying to get tickets. Disgraceful.

    1. I assume that as it is the second tier cup they do not expect to sell many tickets to neutral fans or corporate tickets and without knowing the clubs involved, they would not know the likelihood of selling out a larger stadium.

      As it is, because two French sides have qualified for the ECC final at Twickenham and there are only two weeks until the final, they are expecting the stadium to only be half full. Toulon returned 40% of their allocation already.

      Let’s face it, the ERC have made a pig’s ear of their inaugural year as organisers of European rugby, hopefully they’ll do better next year.

      1. You’re right, FF, the authorities have made a complete pig’s ear of this. It was clearly right to stage the first tier final in a top stadium while hoping for the optimum crowd pulling match up for the game. But a huge mistake to choose the rugby equivalent of Barnstonworth United’s ground for the second tier comp final. I was denied a trip back home to see the semi when it was shifted from Saturday to the Friday evening. And now, prospects of getting a ticket to sit amongst 13,500 Gloucester supporters are looking very bleak indeed…..

  9. The Edinburgh result didn’t even make the weekend sports round up on Reporting Scotland……disgraceful!

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