Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Edinburgh 28-23 Stade Francais

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

At 0-7 after just four minutes and 0-10 inside eight after a Waisea Nayacalevu try and a Morne Steyn drop goal, it looked like this might be a long shift for Duncan Hodge’s men.

Perhaps inspired by Glasgow’s heroics against vaunted French opposition earlier in the day, Edinburgh were fired up and chasing after everything, but really they just needed to relax as very little was working for them. There were a lot of scrums in the opening 20 minutes largely due to knock-ons from the home side and overly-ambitious passes from the visitors.

Sekou Macalou waltzed through Edinburgh’s backline for a try on 21 minutes and it was already looking more than ominous for the visitors. A yellow card for a tip tackle by Paul Williams gave Edinburgh some hope but their sole profit from it was a Duncan Weir penalty.

Magnus Bradbury was lively in a balanced back row with Viliame Mata and Hamish Watson and the game was the sort of scrappy affair that you would think suited them.

A further Steyn penalty added to the visitor’s lead before referee Craig Maxwell-Keys blew the whistle 20 seconds early, clearly almost as frustrated as the Edinburgh fans.

Half-time: Edinburgh 3-20 Stade Francais

The second half threatened more of the same to begin with, before Damien Hoyland gave the fans something to shout about with a try in the corner. Weir missed the conversion, leaving Edinburgh with a fair mountain still to climb.

Sensing a momentum shift, Edinburgh went to the corner when a super chase from Hoyland put Stade under all sorts of pressure at the breakdown. The hosts ramped it up with a powerful rolling maul that Stade were unable to keep the right side of the try line and Magnus Bradbury powered over at the back, Weir converting to reduce the lead to just 5 points.

Just when things were looking up, Phil Burleigh was spotted slapping Pascal Pape’s arm away as the big lock held on to him, but unfortunately he connected with Pape’s face. The second row milked it for all it was worth and despite the TMO’s hesitance – he advised Pape had been doing a spot of acting – Maxwell-Keys whipped out the red card.

Morne Steyn added a penalty kick moments later. A slap in the face, indeed.

From there, it started to look like a very big 8 point gap to overcome with 20 plus minutes to try and stay in touch, let alone win the thing.

However Edinburgh weren’t cowed and the penalty would be Stade’s last points of the match. Some strong running by the lively Will Helu put Edinburgh in the right area and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne put his pack through the phases before nicking the glory for himself with a well-timed dart that put Edinburgh within a point.

A Blair Kinghorn chargedown moments later sent the small but vocal crowd nuts, leading to a scrum penalty that Duncan Weir slotted for the lead.

The next ten minutes were a test of Edinburgh’s imagination, could they cling on to a precarious margin or would they have ambition to widen it?

As it was, Stade came a knocking at the earliest opportunity but the TMO spotted they didn’t get the score, and Edinburgh mounted a steady defensive scrum to send the pressure back up the other way.

A man down, the penultimate penalty was kicked at goal – rather than the corner in pursuit of a bonus point – but for a game that could easily have gone the other way after 20 minutes, every point was hard won.

The final penalty? Well, that went into the stand.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne got the sponsors award for a very decent second half performance, but for me Duncan Weir just edged it with his big workrate in attack and defence, where he is often targeted (in fairness, his first half was almost as poor as his scrum-half’s). Still playing with plenty of heart now he’s at the other end of the M8.

11 Responses

  1. Hidalgo-Clyne had an impressive work rate working very hard in defence and deserved the award in my opinion. McInally, Watson and Tollis also had good games with high work rates and outstanding moments. The Stade no. 5 should be made to clean toilets with his tongue though the ref was right to red card Burleigh’s idiocy.

  2. What a weekend so far for Scottish Rugby! Glasgow and Edinburgh wins, 7s topping their group, wins for expats at Gloucester (in which Laidlaw played 10 for a bit!), Saracens, Quins and Toulouse as well.

    Plenty of people on the scoresheet was great to see including a complete set of SH in Laidlaw, Price and SHC, Russell/Weir/Jackson all kicking points and tries for Dunbar, Scott, Scott, Maitland, Hoyland and Toolis!

    Really impressed with Glasgow, thought Finn and Jonny were immense. Hoggy looked lively as ever and a decent showing from the scrum. Really looking forward to the return fixture on Friday now!

    The Edinburgh game, what can you say? Such a strange one. First half: giving points away for free, scrum getting bullied, Sam up to his old trick of throwing the ball to his teammates feet and Weir missing touch at penalties. Thought we got turned over A LOT. Couple of times Hidalgo-Clyne was left to secure the ruck by himself, with predictable results. Genia and Steyn totally ran the show for a while and Morné gave Finn a lesson on how to kick a drop-goal at Murrayfield just to rub salt in the wounds.

    Somehow though we came back! Weirdly the quite… unorthodox red card for Burleigh seemed to spur the team in to life. I was particularly impressed with the replacement front row – especially Berghan (A Scotland-qualified tighthead, worth bearing in mind!). Really turned our fortunes round at scrum-time and Ford didn’t lose any lineouts! Accuracy all round picked up with some great moments from Bradbury, Kinghorn, Hoyland and the halfbacks. How often do we see Edinburgh’s backs playing well enough to keep Kennedy, Tovey and Bryce on the bench for 80 mins? Not perfect, but great determination to win. Looking for a more consistent performance next week away from home now – not much recovery time, we play on Thursday!

    Over the last week or two we have welcomed back Strauss, Du Preez, Dicko, Pyrgos and Berghan back from injury. Hopefully the likes of WP, Vernon, Ashe, Hardie, Sarto (?) and Taylor at Sarries won’t be too far behind, depth needed to take this form back to the pro12 and gain momentum for 6N.

    1. Haven’t seen Berghan much but when I have seen him play his scrummaging is top drawer. Why has he not progressed?

      1. He’s had beyond amateur level fitness for the last couple of years and couldn’t keep up with play. Was given a one year contract extension and clearly an ultimatum to sort out his work in the gym. He’s obviously taken it seriously as he’s lost a tonne of weight and it’s showing in his displays now. Useful.

  3. FPC,

    I’ve asked the same question re Berghan, (20st + of NZ/Scottish prop), he’s been unlucky with injuries.

    Edinburgh are a funny team, there’s a definite need of an injection of quality in the backs.

    Tremendous weekend for Scottish rugby.

  4. VERY pleased with the second half and a GREAT win for the team and Scotland.

    BUT, what about the abject performance and lack of effort/commitment/interest in the first half. The players, and particularly the Captain, need to look very carefully at this and NEVER let it happen again.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion