Edinburgh 24-20 Newport Gwent Dragons

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!

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A proud Welshman, James has been writing about sport for over 8 years now, covering rugby union, rugby league and football for a number of publications. He worked in the media departments at a historic non league football club and a Championship Rugby League club, before moving to Scotland to work as a shepherd.Not content with just writing about sport, he spends what little spare time the sheep allow him to coach youth and women's rugby.
Follow James Rhys on twitter @JamesRhys90

19 comments on “Edinburgh 24-20 Newport Gwent Dragons

  1. Mikelinds on

    Quite astonishing, Embra got one or two things right, especially the last play. Couldn’t believe my eyes!!

  2. TheSmidge on

    Why why why why why why why why why why why why do Edinburgh only seem to play with any urgency in the last 10 minutes? That was painful to watch and snatching the result cannot change that. There needs to be a clear out, and I include the existing coaching staff in that. Many players are simply not up to scratch.

      • TheSmidge on

        My greatest concern is at half-back and in midfield. We need a game breaker at 9, who can lead and drive the team on. And a 10 that is not just a boot. I like Duncy but he just can’t get the backs firing. Watching the team go from one side of the pitch to the other and back again without making much progress is a half back problem.

        Fowles and SHC are probably staying, but looks like Kennedy is not getting a new contract. Ideally, we need an experienced, gamebreaker with pace and a superb box-kicking game. A combo of Price and Greeg would be ideal :)

        Duncy will stay I think, but Tovey has to go. They are too similar and there is no obvious tactical change when one or the other is subbed. Kinghorn should get a chance at 10. Would’ve loved to see Heathcote come in (being realistic as to who might come) but he’s just signed new contract at Worcester.

        In the centre, I’m tempted to say keep Deans and dump the rest. The less said about Rasolea last night the better, but the change bringing Blair on and moving Bryce to 13 should’ve been done at HT. Deans/Bennett is the medium term 1st choice partnership.

        In the pack, there clearly needs to be some hard work done at the set piece. Raw ingredients are there but injuries in the front row have shown up that the strength in depth is not there. I’ve never been fully convinced by Berghan. He’s just a big lad but doesn’t look as powerful as that size should indicate. I’d go as far as to say he looked unfit last night. Thought Turned fluffed his audition, and maybe it’s Rambo’s time to move
        on.

        So, priorities for me: half-back, centre, front row back-ups.

      • john martin on

        Half back is the real issue, the only guy the really needs persevering with is SHC.

        If I were SRU I’d have had Dave Rennie advising of 5 NZ (preferably SQ) backs that could be recruited.

        I’d say ALL of the NSQ backs in the Edinburgh squad can be released, replace them with the best of the U21s & Pete Horne.

        Forwards simply need to be properly coached & they’ll be fine

      • James Rhys Baylis on

        Tovey had a phenomenal second half against his former club, creating nearly every try and kicking well but his first half was dire. Running in to traffic, kicks not making touch… I agree with you though, he’s not a long term option.

        Felt SHC was an improvement at 9 when he came off the bench, like John Martin says is probably one worth persevering with.

        Thought Turner was very lively in the first. Threw well at the lineout and tried to make a lot of carries. I was reasonably impressed but can’t see him ousting Ross Ford from the line up on a weekly basis?

        Edinburgh’s strengths definitely lie in the pack, and as John says, they just need to be coached well and I think Cockers will work some magic there.

      • TheSmidge on

        Tovey may have played better in the latter stages but he has never consistently delivered. He’s just not good enough imho.

  3. James on

    Well that was frustrating to say the least (and that is beimg generous). For nearly 70 mins the team went nowhere but sideways and it was all to easy for Dragons to defend.

    And when we did get promising positions or situations there were careless mistakes, stupid penalties, players getting isolated… Cockers can’t arrive soon enough (and I hope he is bringing a big stick with him!)

  4. Big Al on

    It was a frustrating watch last night although good that some character saw them through. As someone who used to play 13 the back play was really uninspiring for at least the first 70 minutes. Hodge is really lucky to still have his backs/attack coaching job for next year as they looked devoid of ideas of how to penetrate one of the weaker defences in the league. They played pretty much as Scotland’s backs did a few years ago going from side to side with very little forward momentum. Bennett would make a big difference by running intelligent lines but he’s out for a long time. I don’t like seeing the flankers crashing up in the outside channels. If you’re going to do that one of the centres or a winger needs to do the clearout when they go to ground and usually the flanker would be more natural at that. It works if you’ve got Dunbar following up but Edinburgh don’t. I’m not going to blame the stand-offs for lack of penetration as none of the starting backs looked like making many line breaks but they then need a more sniping scrum half to try and make more breaks to occasionally give a different point of attack and create more space for the backs.

  5. Busy Little Bee on

    Keeping Hardie would be my priority, play both him and Watson along with a big boy at 8.

    Who can Edinburg realistically get at half back or centre? even the reserve centers at Glasgow, Johnson and Grigg, look way better than anything Edinburgh have got. A big part of the problem much be coaching. Think they’re just gonna have to try whatever to get the best out of SHC and Weir as they should be decent pro 12 level players, we’ve seen that before. Is Hodge seriously staying on as backs coach?

  6. john martin on

    I agree Busy little Bee, a Glasgow 2nd’s team – Murchie, Hughes, Grigg, Johnson, Jones, Horne, Horne/Pygros isz better than Edinburgh’s 1st’s.

    I’ll throw Jason Baggott, Josh Henderson, Pete Horne, as alternatives, someone even suggested trying SHC @ 10.

    • FF on

      The problem is that Baggott, Henderson, Hastings and any other young FH who might sneak into a discussion are almost entirely inexperienced at pro-level. They may have plenty of potential and might push through. Or not. But Edinburgh and Glasgow need good starting and back up players now. Glasgow suffered having to field Clegg occasionally instead of Weir. Weir simply can’t be allowed to stagnate as even when he’s in the doldrums he is Russell’s back up in a Scotland shirt for want of challengers.

      Who knows when Heathcote will get a another look in?

      • TheSmidge on

        I remember being jealous of Glasgow 18 months ago knowing they had Scotland’s 1st three choices at FH and Edinburgh had Burleigh playing out of position. The SRU were always going to even that up, but I wish Horne had been the man to come along the M8. Now, once again, it looks like the top 3 will be at Glasgow, with Hastings surely going to take Weir’s place, if not in the summer, sometime in the next 18 months.

      • FF on

        Horne’s best position is 12 and Glasgow have struggled when Russell has been absent. I don’t think he is much more than utility cover for Glasgow or Scotland at FH. I don’t think the problem is necessarily Weir as much as the Edinburgh environment. If Horne has moved across Edinburgh would have been just as rubbish but a different player’s career would have suffered IMO.

  7. john martin on

    How will they get experience then sir?

    At this moment in time we have Weir – alas simply not suited to playing the style that Edinburgh/Scotland need to have a 10 to be playing & Tovey how is “ok” (but is “ok”…..ok?).

    In hindsight maybe Weir looked good in a very good Glasgow team, when asked to play in a not so good Edinburgh team he has really struggled.

    I’d say that Horne will back up Russell going forward, I’d take Hastings on the summer tour.

  8. Andy on

    Was it just me or did it look to anyone else that the players had a coup d’etat behind the posts after Dragons went 17-3 up. Led by SHC it looked? Perhaps just saying “fcuk these tactics, this is how we’re playing from now on”? The OFT celebrations at the end looked like a bunch of players self satisfied.

    • Busy Little Bee on

      I didn’t see the game so can’t comment, but for sure Edinburgh aren’t in a position to not try to get SHC and Weir back on track, they have to do that as we’ve seen both are up to the level required at pro 12. Spend any budget on keeping Hardie and another useful centre, the boy Grigg from Glasgow as he wont get many games ahead of Dunbar/Jones/p.Horne. The Bennett injury is typical.

      Cockerill is taking a very good job for his reputation as its hard to believe Edinburgh’s performances and results won’t inprove. Nel, Dickinson and Hardie back from injury will immediately give a big boost.

      I honestly think I could manage the team to improvements next season.

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