After the disappointment of last week’s home defeat to Cardiff, Edinburgh headed to Treviso to take on a Benetton side high on confidence. There was to be no fairy tale ending for the Edinburgh men.
The first points came after only 2 minutes when Jaco Van Der Walt slotted a lengthy penalty for Edinburgh.
The early score however didn’t lead to a flurry of points as it was another 20 minutes before Benetton, who had spurned 3 kickable penalty opportunities in the intervening period, levelled the scores through the boot of Ian McKinley.
That was it for points in what was a nervy first half. The defences of both sides were dominant and the jackals were having a field day with a total of 8 turnovers between the teams.
Half-time: Benetton 3-3 Edinburgh
Edinburgh started the second half with Ceccarelli and Toolis replacing Nel and Hunter-Hill respectively. Changes that probably had more to do the national sides interests than anything else.
The first try of the match went the way of the home side. Edinburgh had a lineout on their own 5 yard line and opted to throw it to the rear. Referee George Clancy adjudged the throw to be squint and gave Benetton a scrum. A couple of phases followed and the Italian side managed to force their way over through second row Cannone. McKinley struck the upright with the conversion attempt.
A few minutes later Hamish Watson was also substituted, undoubtedly for the same reason as the halftime replacements. Senitiki Nayalo replaced him.
Edinburgh opened their try account in the 53rd minute. Quick hands from Chris Dean gave Luke Crosbie a little room to make progress down the wing. He passed to Jack Blain, who was having an assured debut. He recycled the ball and after a couple of phases on the Benetton 22 yard line Edinburgh moved it right to Johnstone who danced his way through 4 defenders to score just to the right of the posts. Van Der Walt gave Edinburgh the lead with a successful conversion.
Benetton regained the lead in controversial circumstances on the 68th minute. Operating with penalty advantage substitute stand-off Antonio Rizzi kicked through into the Edinburgh in goal area and chased down his own kick. Tom Brown claimed to have got the first hand to the bouncing ball but the TMO after a fairly cursory examination decided otherwise, and Benetton were awarded the try. The conversion, also by Rizzi, gave the home side a 5 point lead as the last 10 minutes started.
As the full time whistle loomed a series of scrums ensued which eventually led to a Benetton penalty. They kicked to the corner, and then won another penalty which Rizzi duly kicked to finish the game and deny Edinburgh even a losing bonus point.
Cardiff, Kings, Munster, Dragons and now Benetton: five games that Edinburgh have lost this season all whilst the national side dictate what players would be available to play for their club side. It’s no coincidence and it’s quite clear to me that whilst the team are handicapped by international call ups, the performance of the wider squad has not been good enough.
Unfortunately, despite what we will no doubt hear from the Edinburgh PR team, this loss means that it’s highly likely to be arrivederci to their quest to make this years’ PRO14 knockout stages.
The Heineken Cup quarter final v Munster is now Edinburgh’s sole legitimate target this season and we had better hope that with a full squad to choose from the team can pull out a result. If not then it will be 2021 before we grace it again at the very earliest.
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
SRBlog Man of the Match : – it was a poor game to watch with loads of errors from both sides punctuating it and Jack Blain making his competitive Edinburgh debut may have wished for something a bit more memorable to look back on but at the tender age of 19 he had a fine game. He tackled everything that came his way, had a cracking kick chase and was even in off his wing looking for the ball on a couple of occasions. He was anything but overawed and on an otherwise disappointing day he gets the award.