Struggling Edinburgh welcomed 9th placed Newport Gwent Dragons to Myreside for their final home game of the 2016-17 Pro12 campaign on Friday night.
The game got off to a sloppy start, with both sides making a number of errors. The home side looked lively, upping the tempo and looked like they might draw first blood as Cornell Du Preez looked set to run in for a try in the corner. After failing to cross the whitewash, the referee awarded a penalty to Edinburgh for an earlier infringement. Fly half Tovey pointed to the posts and coolly slotted it over to open the scoring against his former side.
After phase after phase of Red and Black bodies testing the Dragons defence, Edinburgh looked certain to add to their 3 points with a Du Preez try in the corner, but in a case of deja vu for the home side, it was not to be. Despite coming up short, the South African did manage to make a lovely offload to flanker Viliame Mata, only for him to be bundled into touch.
Despite enjoying much of the possession, Edinburgh simply could not capitalise and were made to pay for it. When Jason Tovey collided with a teammate under a high ball, taking both Edinburgh players out of action, the visitors pounced and took advantage of the two man advantage with Dragons leading try scorer Pat Howard scoring the first try of the game. Angus O’Brien converted easily.
Tovey was then forced from the field for a HIA, being replaced by Duncan Weir after 34 minutes.
The Dragons kept the pressure on for the remainder of the half, with O’Brien slotting a penalty in the dying moments of the first half.
Half-time: Edinburgh 3-10 Newport Gwent Dragons
Jason Tovey passed his medical checks at half time and returned to the field for the second half but perhaps ended up wishing he had remained back in the changing rooms as the Dragons ran riot in the opening minutes of the second half, taking just 8 minutes to break through the Edinburgh defence.
Dragons flanker Nic Cudd burst through a hole in the home defence and nearly sent fly half O’Brien over for the try. The ball was recycled and went through the hands before full back Carl Meyer went over for the Dragons second. O’Brien converted a difficult kick from the touchline to extend the visitors’ lead.
Edinburgh looked to be back in the game when Blair Kinghorn scored their opening try mere minutes after entering the fray, but it was disallowed after discussions between referee Jones and his TMO and returning prop Allan Dell was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge in the ruck on Dragons’ try scorer Meyer.
The home side refused to give in and repeatedly tested the Dragons defence just metres short of their try line. Their persistence was rewarded as the referee evened things up, sending Newport no. 9 Charlie Davies to the bin for a high tackle, before Tovey lofted a wonderful pass to substitute Kinghorn crossed the line for the second time. The fly half converted to bring the scores to 10 -20.
Kinghorn’s try ignited a phenomenal second half comeback for the home side, as five minutes later, Tovey unlocked the Dragons defence with a perfect inside pass to Damian Hoyland for another try, which the Welshman converted once again.
With seconds on the clock, it looked like the Dragons had managed to cling on for their first away Pro12 victory in 22 games before they conceded a penalty. Edinburgh set off up the pitch, keeping the ball alive as they hurtled towards the try line. For a moment, it looked as though they had spoiled their chance of a late victory as a lofted ball was intercepted but the referee awarded another penalty to the home side and sent Dragons flanker Cudd to the bin for a professional foul.
With over 82 minutes on the clock, captain Grant Gilchrist crashed over from the tap penalty and Tovey’s conversion sealed the dramatic win.
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)
SRBlog Man of the Match: Jason Tovey. There were a number of candidates for man of the match. Cornell Du Preez was a constant threat, Blair Kinghorn made an instant impact off the bench to kickstart the Edinburgh rally and incoming coach Richard Cockerill is sure to be impressed with what he saw from hooker George Turner, who he specifically suggested should start this game. However, Jason Tovey gets the award for playing a vital role in inspiring Edinburgh’s dramatic comeback. After an inconsistent first half that saw him leave the field with a head knock, the Welshman returned for the final 40 minutes and demolished his former club, setting up 3 tries (if you include Blair Kinghorn’s first disallowed effort), slotting a penalty and three successful conversions. Not a bad way to spend his 28th birthday against his old side!