Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 17: Benetton 18-10 Edinburgh

Treviso v Edinburgh
© Scottish Rugby Blog

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.

2 Responses

  1. Looks grim for Edinburgh. Still a very, very slim chance of reaching the play-offs, but they can still salvage something from the season: big game against Munster, and the Pro14 7th team play-off for the last CC place for next season, is still on.

  2. This was a hugely disappointing result, brought about by a number of factors. I would love to see the stat for number of Edinburgh wins refereed by George Clancy. He can’t be blamed wholey for the defeat but his treatment of Edinburgh seemed erratic at best. He seemed unduly swayed by the home support (lack of authority and composure by refs is becoming a trend in the Pro14 – and may explain the exceptionally low number of away wins across the league this season). The swift dismissal of Tom Brown’s claim to have grounded the ball when the try was scored, when it was obviously a very close call, certainly doesn’t send the right message.

    Both sides put in solid performances. Despite some very good performances in the Champions Cup, Henry Pyrgos repeatedly disappoints in the league. His speed of distribution was painful to watch at times (and bizzarely seemed to be deliberate), allowing Benetton’s defence to reset time and time again. Nathan Fowles didn’t help matters when he came on and refused to play the ball from the base of the scrum when it was obvious to all observers if the match until that point that Mr Clancy (for whatever reason) was not prepared to award any penalties to Edinburgh for scum dominance. This was inexcusable, as it was clear to anyone who had watched the match that the ref just wanted the ball to played come what may. When referee would not have penalised us at the final scrum if the ball had just been played.

    Feel frustrated for James Johnston. His try was inspired but, from the moment the conversion went over, Edinburgh’s performance levels inexplicably evaporated. His team mates should have been fighting hell for leather to protect that lead and to make sure that the try meant something.

    Third plays remains a possibility but will be a tough ask. Fourth place would not be a disaster as a home play off to get into the Champions Cup would be the likely result. Every point between now and end of season is absolutely crucial.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion