Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Match Report: Toulon 17-28 Edinburgh

Hamish Watson
Hamish Watson on the charge followed by James Johnstone - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Edinburgh close in on a quarter final spot after a historic victory at the Stade Mayol.

This Edinburgh team became the first Scottish side – and only third team ever – to win at the Stade Mayol in Europe.

Toulon tries from Guriado and Isa either side of a Darcy Graham score for Edinburgh gave Toulon a 12-8 advantage at half time.

However, the second half was a masterclass from Edinburgh, with key individuals standing up to this historic challenge. Further tries from Kinghorn and Johnstone, plus a couple of penalty kicks from Van der Walt, secured the famous victory for the visitors before a consolation try for Savea in the final few minutes.

With Montpellier at home next week, Edinburgh are tantalizingly close to a home quarter final and in this competition home advantage is crucial to further advancement.

Even Stevens

In what was a competitive and combative first half, Edinburgh met a powerfully motivated Toulon side that had every intention of making every kilogram count.

Toulon’s first score came from a series of powerful carries, firstly from Isa and then Guriado who went over to open the scoring. With the crowd in uproar and Toulon pumped, it is easy for visiting sides to start getting nervous at this venue. However, Edinburgh displayed a mental steel that their fans are loving in this seasons Champions Cup, kept their cool, and stayed in touch throughout the first half.

Firstly, Van der Walt kicked over a penalty to cut the cap to 5-3. Secondly, Jamie Ritchie threw an offload Sonny Bill Williams would be proud of to Darcy Graham who, with a mix of power and athletic ability, finished in the corner to give the visitors a temporary lead in the first half.

Toulon, however, responded with more of the same from their pack: brute force. From a tap and go on Edinburgh’s five-metre line, Lakafia, their number eight, carried inches close to the line and it was finished simply by Isa who simply stretched over to score. Despite the Toulon lead, Edinburgh would have been reasonably content with the half time score, knowing this was the sort of first-half Toulon effort expected, yet they were still in touch.

Half Time: Toulon 12-8 Edinburgh

The second half performance from Edinburgh was a crowd silencer as the visitors executed a clinical and well worked game plan to finish off Toulon’s challenge this year.

A couple of minutes after the restart, Edinburgh swept the ball wide to James Johnstone, one of the star performers, who grubber-kicked in behind the on-coming defence and Kinghorn raced onto the ball to score near the left side. This attack was complimented with an excellent conversion from Van der Walt to give them a three point advantage.

After further penalties, Edinburgh were in complete control of the game and the score board sat at 12-21. However, Rhys Webb took a quick tap on the 62nd minute to start a miniature break for Toulon, hoping to start a revival. The move started well with good hands but a spilled ball from substitute Gorgodze brought the maximum punishment Edinburgh could exact.

Kinghorn picked up the ball and looking for space, passed wide to Bill Mata, whose eyes lit up at the sight of green in front of him. His side-stepping run beat at least two defenders, drew in at least two more and produced the most sumptuous offload over his shoulder to a flying Johnstone who gathered it in one hand then sprinted under the Toulon posts from near the half way line. This was the final nail in the coffin for the home side and the four points were coming back to Edinburgh; not even a late Savea try could change the outcome.

Full Time: Toulon 17-28 Edinburgh

Edinburgh could qualify as one of the best runners’ up if they were to gain a losing bonus point next week. But the way this team is playing; with the fixture at Murrayfield, a fortress that has not been penetrated this season; and how they played against them previously gives fans, players and the coaches much optimism for Edinburgh to finish the pool stage top of pool 5.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn were both excellent out the back and the pack effort was huge to a man but we’re giving it to James Johnstone for his part in the defence and a key role in two superb tries.

UPDATE: Teams for Edinburgh vs Montpellier

Cockerill has stuck with the same side almost entirely, for one last push.

Fri 18 January 2019 7:45pm, BT Murrayfield Stadium

Edinburgh: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Chris Dean, 11. Duhan Van Der Merwe, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally (c), 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements:16. David Cherry, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Fraser McKenzie, 20. Luke Crosbie, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Simon Hickey, 23. Juan Pablo Socino.

Montpellier: 15. Frans Steyn, 14. Timoci Nagusa, 13. Arthur Vincent, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Henry Immelman, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Ruan Pienaar; 1. Grégory Fichten, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 3. Jannie Du Plessis, 4. Nico Janse van Rensburg, 5. Jacques Du Plessis, 6. Fulgence Ouedraogo, 7. Yacouba Camara, 8. Louis Picamoles (c).
Replacements:16. Vincent Giudicelli, 17. Usha Tcheisvhili, 18. Levan Chilachava, 19. Kelian Galletier, 20. Yvan Reilhac, 21. Benoit Paillaugue, 22. Vincent Martin, 23. Paul Willemse.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

3 Responses

    1. Bookies have us as clear favourites.
      Montpelier are poor on the road in this comp with one win in 13 away from home.
      Edinburgh have won 13 of the last 14 against French teams at Murrayfied.

      I’m insanely confident. This will make the inevitable stats busting loss even harder to take.

  1. Like the reply before I’m confident, but not overly insanely so!

    We’ve turned from being a group who suffered some really poor away performances this season (against the top 2 Irish teams and Zebre) into a much more formidable defensive unit, with a line breaking attacking edge! Having your main players actually playing and consistency of selection has really helped, with all of our guys performing well at home throughout the season so far…and long may that continue!

    Cockers has got all our Scottish contingent really stepping up to stake International claims all over the park (8, 10 & 11 aside)…including the sacred No 15 jersey as well by the way :-)

    Good luck to us and Glasgow this weekend, with 2 Scottish teams to go through!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion