A slightly makeshift Edinburgh side, featuring 11 changes from the side that lost to Grenoble in the Challenge Cup and blindside Mike Coman stepping out in the second row headed to the artificial sparkle of Cardiff to try and get that winning streak back on track. Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally and Hamish Watson all returned from Scotland training camp to bolster the team but it was shorn of Scott, Hardie, Hidalgo-Clyne, and that all important front row unit.
It didn’t take the home side long to take advantage of the sure footing their pitch gives them – exactly why Scotstoun needs something similar for the brand of rugby Glasgow play – with very simple ball through the hands and a well timed pass from Alex Summerhill to Dan Fish scored the opening try inside 3 minutes.
7-0: champagne from the hosts, flat from the visitors.
Tom Brown was back from injury and put in another of his vital tackles on Cardiff’s next incursion, although it was a little too high for the locals. From the ensuing game of Rolling Maul™ the Blues went one way then the next and Vosowai crawled over the line. Luckily for our boys, it was adjudged a double movement but you’d see that
given plenty of times – if it was Jonny Gray in the 76th minute of the Calcutta Cup we’d probably be screaming it was a score. Cardiff managed to sustain the pressure for a kickable penalty at the quarter of an hour mark and a 10-0 lead.
Edinburgh had a potential kick at goal themselves around the twenty minute mark but with wind against, opted for the corner in an effort to stamp, well, something of themselves on the game. A penalty advantage was kicked to the corner and was well shepherded by Fish, so Edinburgh scrum-half Nathan Fowles was given the chance for an easy three points instead.
Fish had another clean break moments later and should have passed outside for an easy overlap as Summerhill had for him, but the busybody Hamish Watson defending did well to keep him worried enough not to attempt it. Cardiff kept the pressure on with another penalty to the corner and yet another rolling maul until Vosowai break through, but the big Number 8 was again denied a try: this time by the nimble hands of Phil Burleigh.
The Blues were the side playing with intent and tempo and only some solid defending from the likes of Watson, Michael Allen and captain Mike Coman was keeping them out despite a ton of pressure.
Edinburgh on the other hand didn’t exert much in the way of pressure and either lax handling or discipline (or missed kicks to touch) gave Cardiff chances to pin them right back in their own half. Defence at least is the hallmark of Edinburgh’s game these days and the initial try aside, it was keeping them in the game.
Half-time: Cardiff Blues 10-3 Edinburgh
The opening minutes of the second half were not suffused with excitement but did see some mild controversy when Mike COman was taken out off the ball with a shoulder but the transgressor went unpunished. It did spur Edinburgh into some sort of life for a bit, but then the ball was knocked on once inside the Cardiff 22.
Instead, Rory Sutherland was sent to the bin five minutes later for impeding Tavis Knoyle who cunningly ran into him whilst taking a tap penalty.
From there it settled into a familiar pattern of Edinburgh defending, and Cardiff attacking – a reverse of what you would have seen a few years back – but the hefty Edinburgh forwards were getting increasingly short shrift from referee David Wilkinson.
Cardiff just couldn’t quite kill them off, both sides making crucial knock-ons when any of their attacks looked like building to anything meaningful, at least until 66 minutes when a well timed run from Rhys Patchell put him over at the corner. Once again the TMO had a role to play as his foot hit the touchline almost the same instant he grounded the ball; credit to Nathan Fowles for shunting him close enough for it to be considered, and it was indeed disallowed.
For all the mistakes Edinburgh made, they were still within a score with ten minutes to play but it was symptomatic that with a penalty touchfinder that might have earned them a draw, touch was missed.
Stuart McInally added impetus from the bench but Edinburgh should not have left their best spells of attacking play to chase a draw in the dying minutes; a chase that was ultimately unsuccessful.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Hamish Watson was about the only Edinburgh player who stood out for his usual industry, although the team put in a power of work in defence, and note should go to Nathan Fowles for the try saving tackle on Patchell.