An away trip to Swansea is never going to be an easy task for this inexperienced Edinburgh team, made a far more difficult task by the return of the Welsh national team contingent for the home side.
The first few minutes were marred by a nasty knee injury to Chris Dean, forcing an early reshuffle in the Edinburgh backline – Helu switching to midfield to accommodate Glenn Bryce on the blindside wing. After the Ospreys opening spell of pressure resulted in a 3 point lead, Edinburgh scored the game’s opening try in the 7th minute against the run of play. After a Gilchrist charge-down in the 22, some great hands from a Kinghorn, Bradbury and Ritchie set Will Helu down the left wing to score on his return to the side.
The home side responded quickly, a slick set piece setting Daffyd Howells slicing through the midfield courtesy of the highly impressive Ashley Beck’s dummy run and forcing the Edinburgh back-row to bite. After a short period of Edinburgh’s maul defence comfortably repelling their opposition, the other set piece was the Scottish side’s undoing. The young front row were ruthlessly exposed as the Ospreys drove Edinburgh off their own ball, allowing Dan Baker an easy dot down and extending the lead to 17-5 after only 18 minutes.
After a 10 minute lull, where Edinburgh’s blunt, slow attack was being easily shunted by the powerful Ospreys defence, came a strange moment of controversy. Chasing a high ball, Hoyland unintentionally clattered into the Welsh fullback Dan Evans spurring the locals into whistles and jeers. Referee Dudley Phillips allowed play to go on as Kinghorn showed a great turn of pace to race in for Edinburgh’s second score. Even after consulting the TMO, Phillips stood by his original decision – both men had eyes on the ball – and Weir narrowed the gap to 5 with a brilliant touchline conversion.
A couple of minutes later, a poorly executed kick out on the full from Hidalgo-Clyne gave the Ospreys a chance to show their scrummaging dominance accruing another penalty on halfway. The hosts chose to pin back the visitors in their own 22 again. After 32 minutes, another Ospreys maul was stopped just before the line, and a subsequent powerful drive from the tighthead Ma’afu Fia saw him squeeze over the line extending the lead to 12, following Davies’ conversion.
The end to the first half was scrappy, with a few rounds of handbags breaking out, much to the frustration of the painfully biased Scrum V commentary… you never know how much you miss Hugh Dan on BBC Alba until you watch BBC 2 Wales. Weir slotted over a penalty shortly before the whistle to close the gap, with Edinburgh doing well to keep a dominant Ospreys within touching distance.
Half-time: Ospreys 24-15 Edinburgh
At the 44minute mark, continuous Osprey pressure in the Edinburgh 22 finally told, with some lovely hands from Alun Wyn Jones setting young Welsh prospect Keelan Giles down the right wing to bag the bonus point try for the hosts. Following the try, Sam Davies’ conversion extended the lead up to 16 points and realistically ended the game as a contest.
For the rest of the match, Edinburgh’s ill-discipline came to the fore in a scrappy last 30 minutes. Edinburgh had not learned from last week’s poor ball protection, as the Ospreys swarmed the ruck area with very little resistance.
Referee Phillips finally lost patience after about 12 penalties, sending Gilchrist to the bin for repeated team infringements. This began a very tense 10 minute period with several repeated scrums on Edinburgh’s line which saw the visiting team nearly buckling. Thankfully, the home side’s No.8 Baker completely mis-controlled the ball on a rampaging scrum giving Edinburgh a much-needed reprieve.
Into the last 20 and going against the grain, a rare break to the line saw Junior Rasolea get a dose of white line fever as he came up short, a score which would have sent a few nervy twitches into the Ospreys. Shortly after, Edinburgh conceded a second yellow when Allan Dell paid the price for several more scrum infringements with 10 minutes to go. Quite remarkably, the unheralded Edinburgh front row of Kyle Whyte and Felipe Arregui managed to win over the ref and survive the following onslaughts, much to the Welsh crowd’s dismay.
Edinburgh bagged a consolation score in the 77th minute, with Mata showing great footwork close to the line to get over after some strong carries from his fellow replacements. It was only Edinburgh’s third venture into the 22 of the half.
As much as it hurts this proud Edinburgh lad, the final score really did not represent how this match panned out, however maybe we are due a few ‘kinder’ score lines to make up some previous unfair drubbings. Umm, bring on Stade Francais.
Full time: Ospreys 31 – 22 Edinburgh
Summary: The green shoots of the Ulster win look to have completely withered. Edinburgh’s attack posed very little threat; the penalty count soared with a combination of indiscipline, a dominated scrum and shocking ball retention. Thankfully the Ospreys kindly left at least 20 points in the locker room. Small positive: 3 tries and only a 9-point gap after a poor performance, some fight till the final whistle too.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
SRBlog Man of the Match: Scrum V’s highly irritable commentary team gave the award to Alun Wyn Jones even if many would agree Ashley Beck was the standout performer with some delightful running lines. From a Scottish perspective, there was little to choose from a very poor team performance. Blair Kinghorn showed brief flashes of his talent but Ben Toolis takes the nod for some hard carries, strong defence and most impressively some admirable maul defence, keeping the scoreline respectable.