The weather at Parc Y Scarlets may have been similar to Murrayfield under Storm Ciara but the progress of the game in the path of Storm Dennis was a bit different.
Edinburgh had little in the way of possession or territory in the first half of the match as the wind kept them pinned deep in their own half, but dominance at both lineout and scrum, allied to a stout close quarter defence left Scarlets with only 2 penalty kicks to their name at half time.
If Scarlets were never out of Edinburgh’s 22, in contrast Richard Cockerill’s side only managed two incursions into their opponents’ and they scored exceptional tries on both occasions.
The first came as early as the 6th minute. Scarlets returned a Pyrgos’ box kick to around halfway which was gathered by recent Scotland debutant Nick Haining. He took it up a few yards, then passed it overhead style to Duhan Van Der Merwe who burst through some ineffectual Scarlets tackling and engaged the afterburners before stepping inside yet another failed tackle attempt, to score a confidence boosting early try for the Edinburgh side.
Unfortunately the exit from the re-start was guddled and led to a successful Scarlets penalty.
Scarlets then dominated possession and territory thereafter, but Edinburgh’s defence can fairly be described as “stout”. Scarlets seemed unable to find the key to unlock Edinburgh and had to settle for another converted penalty. The home side were then subsequently unpicked again as the half drew to a close.
Edinburgh won a scrum just inside Scarlets half which came directly from the restart after the second Scarlets penalty. Pyrgos fed van der Merwe, in off his wing, and his pace took him through the first couple of defenders before he executed a two on one to give Matt Scott an easy score under the posts.
HT: Scarlets 6 Edinburgh 14
The perceived wisdom was that Edinburgh would boss the second half as they now had the wind at their backs but it wasn’t to be.
Scarlets continued to dominate possession and territory and as the replacements changed things up they also started to get the upper hand at scrum time.
For all that, all the Scarlets had to show for their second half dominance was a solitary penalty from the boot of Dan Jones in the 47th minute. The rest of the half remained scoreless despite the Welsh side continually battering at Edinburgh’s try line.
The pivotal moment in what remained an intriguing half of rugby came in the 69th minute when Bill Mata, on the back foot after a good Scarlets scrum, managed to turn the ball over to deny the home side a score that would have surely won them the game.
Full Time: Scarlets 9 Edinburgh 14
A decent game albeit in poor conditions and beset by errors from both sides but huge credit has to go to Edinburgh who defied Scarlets time after time in a rear-guard action that would have made Captain Mainwaring proud let alone Richard Cockerill.
Edinburgh remain top of Conference B, for the second PRO14 round in a row, and three points clear of Munster. That’s nosebleed territory. You’d imagine they are looking forward to a home game next week against Connacht.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
SRB man of the match:Duhan van der Merwe scored one try, made another and was very calm in one moment in defence, but this was a game that was won by the big D so it’s fitting that the man of the match award goes the to the Big B, Bill Mata.
You normally associate him with big carries and the occasional phenomenal offload but on this occasion it was his defensive capabilities that shone. He was second only to Luke Crosbie in the tackle stats, and he put in a huge try saving hit in the second half, as well as the decisive turnover mentioned above. Big Bill is back.