Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Edinburgh 32-13 Newport Gwent Dragons

Phil Burleigh - pic © Al Ross
Phil Burleigh - pic © Al Ross

Regardless of your thoughts on Ross Ford as a player, or even WP Nel as a project player, the settled trio of Dickinson, Ford and Nel are building something special in an era when you don’t think of front rows as a single entity (Pontypool front row anyone?). All three are out of contract at the end of the season, which may be worrying for Edinburgh’s accountant.

The Viet-Murrayfield had a huge impact on this game at Murrayfield against a young Dragons side who had little answer to Edinburgh’s forward power. They eked out a first penalty from referee Marius Mitrea which Sam Hidalgo-Clyne stroked over for the game’s opening points. Then they then gave away 3 to Newport.

Scrums: influential on the outcome, certainly.

But for a guddle on the deck, Tom Brown could have had the opening try after Phil Burleigh’s well placed chip kick. Burleigh was at the heart of Edinburgh’s best attacking play, keeping the Dragon’s rush defence honest and the first half saw a refreshing lack of aerial ping pong as he and Matt Scott probed the line.

Burleigh broke down the right wing then swung a lovely pass behind his defender, and followed up to take the offload from the highly physical Cornell du Preez. From the pressure that followed Edinburgh took a penalty and a lineout even closer to Newport’s line; that man WP picked and burrowed over for a try: unstoppable.

The Dragons were game to play some rugby on a dry but cold night in Edinburgh, but the home side were a different class for the first half even in the backs where they can be at times less than inspirational.

The half finished with Nel again scoring a try, although the TMO adjudged it a double movement as he reached out to place the ball over the line, sending him in at the break one imagines a very grumpy tighthead.

Half-time: Edinburgh 13-6 Newport Gwent Dragons

The first ten of the second half were far less impressive, with Edinburgh looking a little complacent. It did however see off the first Newport loosehead in the shape of Boris Stankovich who was sent to the bin for repeated scrum infringements, a warning carried over from the first half.

Blair Kinghorn was on for Greig Tonks after only half an hour and he offered a lively, gangly presence at full back, combining nicely with Scott and Burleigh on a number of breaks.

It only took 6 minutes for Nel to see off replacement loosehead Phil Price. With the scrums uncontested for a few minutes, Edinburgh opted to test the driving lineout but Newport defended it manfully – and possibly illegally. That particular set piece still didn’t fire very well but Kinghorn was still making good breaks and Edinburgh were looking for points.

Newport were hard done by as they thought Alasdair Dickinson’s try was being analysed for a forward pass by Hardie and then Mitrea dealt them a double blow by binning fly-half Dorian Jones for a dangerous tackle (after the pass was away) in the process.

At 20-6 up Edinburgh and still at least a man up, Edinburgh capitalised on their dominance in most areas by doing very little. As the benches emptied and the various binned players were restored, the game became a little stilted but the scrum was still there as a constant source of possession and territory.

Edinburgh worked another try well through Tom Brown with a pinpoint pass from Hidalgo-Clyne and Will Helu could have had another but the touchline caught him. Matt Scott made good on the pressure moments later after Sean Kennedy made an arcing run and Scott battered off his defender to sprint over for the bonus point.

The game ended on a sour note for Edinburgh’s defence as the Dragons claimed a consolation try against the general run of things, but Alan Solomons’ men can be satisfied with a job pretty well done.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Phil Burleigh was impressive with a number of nice touches, but you’ve got to go for WP Nel really don’t you? Did his job superbly, seeing off two looseheads and scoring a try (or two, depending on your viewpoint).

5 Responses

  1. A good result in the end, which gives Edinburgh a finger hold in the top six. A win against Ulster next week would be a huge bonus. However, I found the game enormously frustrating and considering the number of yellow cards, as well as the general dominance, there should have been another try or two. When Ben Toolis and Gilchrist are back the pack is going to be redoubtable. Still searching for an edge in the backs.

  2. Glasgow & Edinburgh have become inversions of each other. Edinburgh have the best platform in the league but none of the back-line structure to capitalise on it. Glasgow have all the back-line and loose play to score tries, but one of the worst platforms in the league. It’s making for a lot of frustrating viewing.

    Still, Glasgow are only 1 point behind where they were at this stage last year and Edinburgh are in a decent position to attack the top six, so not complaining too hard.

    Next week’s matches are huge ahead of the derbies! Also, intrigued to watch the 7s next week.

  3. The Edinburgh backs were horrible, but, on the plus side, slightly less horrible than previous games in my opinion. I felt SHC had an erratic game; I wonder how much of that is down to having Burleigh at 10? I wonder if SHC feels he needs to do more to try and compensate for Burleigh (who is a classy footballer, but not a 10 despite his decent enough game on Friday).

    Kinghorn looked fantastic when he came on, which is certainly a positive. The support lines run on his line-breaks were poor though.

  4. David B – the Edinburgh backs were horrible, you say……..well, I would challenge you to argue the case for Edinburgh to be chucking the ball about with reckless abandon when they are pumping teams in the set piece and, for the most part, in the contact area? Moreover, I don’t know what you expect of those outside 9 & 10 when the scrum half is ‘erratic’ and the stand off isn’t a stand off?! Scott is playing well on meagre rations and is clearly part of the tactic of hitting up off first phase and playing to the aforementioned strengths. Not only that, Agen players and journos were waxing lyrical about his play (3 clean line breaks last week). Give credit where credit is due – Chris Dean will be a star, mark my words.

    1. Eh, well, yeah; I don’t disagree. The scrum-half was erratic and the 10 isn’t a 10, as a result the backs were pretty horrible. I’m not sure what has you so hot under the collar as you don’t actually appear to disagree. Just because there is a reason it happened, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      I wasn’t asking for Edinburgh to “chuck[ing] the ball about with reckless abandon” either, but a few simple backs moves isn’t asking a lot. I admit that the style appears to be changing (far fewer aimless box kicks), but passing laterally from side to side of the pitch isn’t really good enough at this level.

      If you think that you are currently seeing Scott playing his best rugby then you must have forgotten the Matt Scott I remember from a few years ago. Additionally, if his line breaks were down to individual skill against Agen rather than backs play, my point remains. Although why you think Scott’s performance in a completely different game has any influence on my opinion on how well he played in this game is beyond me.

      Chris Dean may well be a star in the future, but at present he is part of a malfunctioning backs unit that played almost 30 minutes of rugby against a team down as many as three players, and failed to look threatening for most of it.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion