It was a damp affair at Myreside but Richard Cockerill’s cockles will have been warmed over in France by the way the home pack performed, well marshalled in the set piece by Ben Toolis and Neil Cochrane.
A period of opening dominance and a series of mauls saw a yellow card to Cardiff prop Anton Peikrishvili and a pushover try from the pack, following on the heels of Steve Shingler opening the scoring with a penalty early on.
The Blues (playing in pink) hit back straight away with another Shingler penalty – these lapses are the sort of thing the new coach will be trying to stamp out.
Fraser McKenzie and Blair Kinghorn took a lot of treatment but battled on manfully, and every time the Edinburgh pack took a grip of the ball they were punishing Cardiff one way or the other. Into the wind, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne couldn’t make the kicks count but the pack were exerting strong territorial pressure.
Cardiff were well and truly on the wrong side of referee David Wilkinson and were having a miserable introduction to Myreside with a second yellow card (this time for Jarrod Hoetea) on the half hour mark. They were well on the way to a 4-card bonus point!
McKenzie succumbed to his injury just before half time but was replaced by Lewis Carmichael and not as you may have expected by erstwhile Scotland captain Grant Gilchrist, who didn’t make it on apart from a ten minute spell for Magnus Bradbury – perhaps that might have been a mistake.
A brief cameo by Kinghorn at 10 saw a nice jinked kick in behind Cardiff that Michael Allen (Tovey was off for an HIA) only just failed to gather.
There’s always a gripe with Edinburgh and it was that in a half where their maul was dominant and their opponents misfired consistently in the lineout, and played with a man down for 50% of the half, the score at half-time was only 7-6.
The Edinburgh backs came out with renewed confidence in the second half and for a while it paid off.
Rory Scholes scored a superb try on 48 minutes after a nice pop out from Kinghorn from a set scrum move; refreshingly the winger backed his pace to round Matthew Morgan and dive over in the corner.
Edinburgh used their dominance to good effect, the backline suddenly finding holes and Scholes finding another try in the opposite corner. Conversions were tricky for Sam Hidalgo-Clyne in the blustery wind but 17-6 was a comfortable lead and the bonus point a genuine possibility.
Sion Bennett gave the home crowd pause for thought with a try on the hour mark that was a little too easily carved through Edinburgh’s midfield. The defensively sleepy periods that have killed Edinburgh of late were looming over the stands at Myreside.
The visitors upped the intensity and the offloading considerably at that point, sensing a genuine chance at 17-13 to win the game, never mind slinking off with a losing bonus. Edinburgh obliged by dropping off tackles enough to give the momentum.
The final ten minutes began with Cardiff camped in Edinburgh’s half and a penaty kick to the corner. Only a superb tackle by Hidalgo-Clyne held Cuthbert up but Cardiff kept bashing.
When Edinburgh infringed in the ruck – possibly Toolis fractionally round the side – Cardiff took the speculative option on the advantage and regathered the chip kick to take a single point lead. The conversion was oddly missed but it certainly helped the final minutes for drama.
Tom James was pinged for a high tackle and Kinghorn – on a night when almost no kicks went over – missed a medium range penalty with just 4 minutes to play.
Cardiff’s defence was up to the task of the endless inneffectual carries by Edinburgh – at one point Cornell du Preez took the ball stationery and stood for a good 5 seconds deciding what to do – and when the ball popped out of Hidalgo-Clyne’s hands he was able to regather but he was swamped by Blues players who made it a maul the ball was never coming out of.
Edinburgh will be gutted but as usual a lack of leadership late on and sporadic drops in intensity are killing them. You can’t blame that all on the backline.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne had his best game in ages and Kinghorn was lively as ever, but I’m giving it to captain Neil Cochrane who leads from the front every time. A nuggety Scottish hooker, you’ve got to wonder what sort of player he’d be if he’d had the chances Ross Ford has.