Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 11: Scarlets 9 Edinburgh 14

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.

35 Responses

  1. So what’s the deal with Hoyland? The few times I’ve seen him play, though prob years ago before his long time out, thought he looked excellent, a prospect for national team. But don’t watch Edinburgh that much and he seems not to have quite broken through. He’s 26, is he a potential Scotland back three player again?

    1. I think he could be but will probably be more a depth option.

      Once Maitland is out of the equation we will have Hoggy, Graham, Kinghorn and Big Duhan owning the back 3.

      I imagine Steyn and Hoyland will be competing for backup place in the event of an injury (Though Harris/Hastings have been used as back 3 cover in the past).

      He may get a few caps in the next WC cycle but nothing more i’d imagine.

      Hope he proves me wrong though!

    2. There was a time when Hoyland was the only player in that Edinburgh team who had a bit of magic about him, but hes just had such a horrendous run of injuries. In that time, weve seen Duhan, Blair and Darcy emerge to cement themselves as the first choice back 3.

      Im so pleased though to see that theyve been patient with him and given him time to try and get back to that level, rather than throw him on the scrap heap.

  2. What I’ve got from 2 Scottish team wins over the last 26 hours. (from a Scottish perspective) EDINBURGH – Haining “does” more than Bradbury @ 8 just now, Crosbie should be @ 6 in Rome, Nel is still excellent for an hour. Scott’s extra physicality makes him a real option @ 12. GLASGOW – George Horne should start (he’s brilliant but fallible – I like brilliant).

  3. Edinburgh defended superbly and had 2 flashes but were otherwise dreadful, would lose that match far more often than not. VDW looked like he’s never played in wind before, shocker for him. VDM seems to be ironing out the creases in his game and ball-in-hand the bloke is a monster. Capped ASAP in the summer surely. Anyway, defence and attitude spot-on by the team.

    John Barclay seems reduced to outings from the bench for the reserve side, sums up GTs random selections that he started the big WC opener in Japan when pretty much done. He never looked half the player he was post-injury. Same with D.Taylor. A shame but hardly a surprise.

    1. Busy little Bee, I thought it was an excellent performance 1.played the conditions, 2.took the chances when they manifested, 3.Scarlets unbeaten @ home for almost a year & would’ve gone top if they won (so no a bad team). Its testament to RC & Edinburgh that we won, previously we’d have definitely lost. Mata, Crosbie, Hoyland were excellent. Can’t wait to see VDM in the blue of Scotland. TeamCam re Haining………..I know

  4. Interesting that Edinburgh managed to get the win in conditions not unsimilar to Murryfield last weekend. Maybe Cockers should pass on some hints to Townsend.

  5. Edinburgh used a get out of jail free yesterday. Defence was excellent and nice to see us taking chances when they were presented. DvdM has really improved as a player over the last couple of seasons, surely a certainly for the national side come the summer. Hoyland really impressed too. Negatives were the poor kicking game which Almost cost us the match. Going forward I’m not sure vdw or hickey are the long term solution.

    1. RJ I agree. Fly half is one position where the two team system is very obviously failing, when Edinburgh have two non SQ players that will never be international class. Never should have let Duncy Weir go.

      Good to see Edinburgh serious contenders this season though.

      1. Real shame we lost Callum McLelland back to league. Jason Baggott will never be a pro player. I wonder if there is scope to move Josh Henderson to Edinburgh and at least have him and Ross Thompson at different clubs. Might also be worth offering a full pro-deal to Nathan Chamberlain, I think he’s looked pretty good for the u20s and would be good tin he t him out of the English academy system.

        Whatever happened to Conor eastgate?

      2. FF – completely forgot about Eastgate. Probably the pick of the bunch form the last few years at 10.

        Makes it even more of the shame that Cammy Redpath decided to go with England. Would probably be a starter at 10 rather than 2nd / 3rd choice centre at Sale.

    2. Completely agree RJ. Finally a Scottish side that seemingly doesn’t know how to lose.
      If I were a Scarlets fan I’d be fuming. A bit like the Calcutta cup last week, defence wins games, especially in those conditions.
      Haining and Nel put their hands up for next week, as did Matt Scott.

      1. I guess the issue with stand off will come down to budget and who’s available. I think both contracts for vdw and hickey are up for renewal this summer? From a squad perspective I guess you would keep one of them for continuity but I’m sure cockerill will be looking to see if any other better options are available.

        Credit to Haining as well for his mata style offload when it would have been easy to go to ground. Like you say WP still has something to offer. Maybe not capable of 80 mins anymore but certainly held the scrum up well. I’d rather have him as an option for the national side than Berghan.

  6. Fair play to Hogg at Exeter, been brilliant all season and another solo run to confirm he has his pace back. Was running in one handed, remembered England and tucked both arms under the ball – can’t ask for more than to learn from mistakes.

    1. A great response from Hoggy. Delighted for him-he’s taken some awful abuse recently from armchair coaches-nice two fingers towards them.

    2. And then said afterwards he’d enjoy a few beers tonight after that. 8 days out from Italy. What a joke.
      What’s he doing joking about the grounding anyway? He’s captain of a team the coach keeps banging on is all about ‘high performance’ and he totally screwed us over.

      1. BLB, I’m not sure what you’re getting angry about here? Is it the Russell issue being about one too many beers or just because it’s Hogg and anything he says will get your back up?

        I’ve not seen the interview/comments from Hogg so can’t say if he was “laughing” about the grounding but as NRS says, good to learn from your mistakes. And if you can’t have a laugh at yourself occasionally the world would be a more terrible and miserable place than it already is!

  7. Hopefully Edinburgh can keep this going and not implode like they seem to do at the tail end of the season. 2 good scores and solid defence.

  8. Skinner and Fagerson have been added to Scotland squad for the remaining 6N. Craig has been released back to his club

    1. Daft decision. Seems arbitrary to drop Craig at this point. We had five locks, then Gray was ruled out – why reduce our options to four?

      Glad to see Skinner and Fagerson back in the squad though. Haining deserves to start at N°8 mind.

      1. Craig needs some game time: if he’s not being picked this weekend, then he’s unlikely to be picked at all, barring injury. He’s better off back at his club.

        Four locks is plenty to get through the Italy game…then a recall or new call-up in the second rest week if needed.

        Fagerson – given there are 7 back rowers already (8 if Skinner is included), I don’t see why another is needed. I doubt he will be picked on Sunday, and surely we won’t need more than 6 to get through 3 games in 4 weeks.

        6/7 – Watson, Ritchie, Crosbie, Gordon
        8/6 – Haining, Bradbury, Du Preez, Fagerson
        6/4 – Skinner

        It’s almost absurd, unless there is some secret back-row business to be discussed…

  9. Wonder if we’ll see Fagerson get a start at 8?
    I think we might see Tombola-lite for this game. A few changes but which are in keeping with the overall pattern.
    He’s an interesting player. Not big but acceleration and footwork takes him over the gainline and can snaffle the ball like the openside he sometimes is. Ritchie and Mish can both get over the ball but maybe they need some help. We’ve been turned over a lot.
    Skinner will come in for Gray or maybe Toolis on the bench.
    Crosbie is a player I would like to see in a 23 this 6N.
    Where would he fit? Who would you drop?

    1. I’d like to see Fagerson get a game as well and he may get on the bench for Haining. Think Townsend will persist with Ritchie/Mish/Magnus for the next few games as on paper that is out best combination despite slightly underwhelming vs England.

      I would like to see Crosbie too but I think the summer or autumn is more likely. Stakes are too high now with us on two losses for too much experimentation and our incumbent flankers are very good.

      Other changes I’d like to see would be Graham (if fit), Hutchinson and Horne starting for a bit of mad sh*t against the italians. Forwards have fronted up so far but backs haven’t scored a try yet so let’s get the creative players in.

  10. Next to no chance the likes of Matt Fagerson, Horne, Crosbie are starting or in some cases even on the bench here. This isn’t a match for trying new things when basically we had 2 very decent performances so far. We lost to 2 excellent teams by a combined total of what…14 points? Not much. Plus these guys haven’t been in camp.

    To the average punter sport is a ‘results business’, but it’s a flawed concept…rubbish, especially in small samples of matches/results. It’s actually a ‘performance business’, and apart from captain Hogg’s stupidity was there much to bemoan in the 2 6n matches so far? I’m no fan of GT by the way.

    Losing in Rome would be a disaster. They’re not about to chuck Matt Fagerson in to see if he brings more than 2 guys, Haining especially, who have played really well.

    1. I don’t see anyone calling for radical changes because, as you say, we have played well in the last 2 games. However, there have been areas in which we’ve struggled – in particular creativity in the backline without Russell – so now it’s about tweaking the team where necessary. Hastings has played well and it has been good for him to have the Glasgow guys around him. Price hasn’t been brilliant though and Horne has a more dynamic attacking game so I’d swap them.
      Similarly, Johnson and Jones have both been decent but I think we need another playmaker to open up our attack and not have everything running through Hastings so would bring in Hutchinson.

      On your other points, I have no idea what you’re talking about with the ‘performance / results business’ and really don’t think swapping Matt Fagerson for Nick Haining on the bench is as radical as you seem to be suggesting.

    2. Middle of the tournament a good time to freshen things up with a couple of changes maybe, but it wouldn’t be the classic tombola/ experimental selections/ new combos/ players which completely change the pattern.

      I think Townsend’s moved on from that.

      Skinner obviously and probably Graham will come back.

  11. M Fagerson is NOT an international 8. Zander would be be a better call. At best a superb nuisance flanker but an understudy to Messrs Ritchie and Watson.

    Haining deserves to start against Italy. For all Bradburys stature, he currently flits in and out. He needs more presence and fire in his belly a la Ritchie and Brown. If anyone saw Edinburgh last night, Haining, Crosbie & Mata showed the grit and determination for their full duration. Immense.

  12. Did anyone else find the constant, “is he Scottish, then?” comments from the commentators really hypocritical and petty? As if Ratuva, Parkes, Fonotia et al. are local boys. Disappointing that Jim didn’t call them oot.

      1. And I find you utterly pointless, bereft of insight or charm, and a waste of bandwidth. Of course I’m joking…

  13. Not a “daft” decision – a typical rationale, considering al the options Townsend rationale.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion