On a typically dreich Scottish evening Edinburgh got their league campaign under way. The weather didn’t bode well for open expansive running rugby.
The home side looked nervous in the opening exchanges. A couple of missed touch finders, a ball allowed to bounce, some poor handling and the early loss of Luke Crosbie all interrupted the flow.
The first excitement came in the 12th minute. Jaco van Der Walt released Jamie Farndale wide on the left and he made serious yardage before offloading to Chris Dean in the tackle. He tried to find Mark Bennett running an inside line but Justin Tipuric tracking back, reached out and knocked it on. Referee Andrew Brace judged it to be a deliberate knock on and yellow carded the Ospreys Skipper. After a rather lengthy TMO review, he also gave a penalty try. Edinburgh 7 – 0 Ospreys.
Advantage Edinburgh, but almost immediately from the kick off Grant Gilchrist joined Tipuric in the bin for lifting a player above the horizontal in a ruck. Ospreys kicked to the corner, won the line out and after another line out and a few phases, were able to force their way over through prop Nicky Smith. All square at 7-7 after Stephen Myler kicked the easy conversion.
At this point Edinburgh seemed determined to press the self-destruct. Haining missed a high ball, Dean had the ball dislodged in the tackle, and Ospreys were definitely in the ascendancy. To add injury to this Magnus Bradbury was off for an HIA and never returned.
As Justin Tipuric returned to the field Ospreys also gained an edge in the scrum and won a penalty. Stephen Myler stroked it over from distance to give the Welsh province the lead. Edinburgh 7 Ospreys 10.
A few minutes later Edinburgh had a reasonable chance to draw level from the boot of Van Der Walt but his kick went wide.
Poor Edinburgh hands led to Ospreys next try only moments later. A high ball from Charlie Shiel was returned with interest. Nick Haining failed to gather, and in broken field, Ospreys were able to spin it wide to winger Mat Protheroe to run it in under the posts. Myler converted to extend Ospreys lead. Edinburgh 7 Ospreys 17.
From the restart Edinburgh looked to maul but the ball was stolen by Justin Tipuric and inevitably at this point Ospreys then won a penalty for Edinburgh not rolling away. Myler maintained his 100% record from the tee to make it Edinburgh 7 Ospreys 20
Another 3 pts went awry when van Der Walt missed an even more straightforward kick a few minutes later.
As the half time loomed Van Der Walt launched yet another high ball, pointedly asking Graham to chase. He did so with relish, winning the ball high in the air defying his diminutive stature. In the aftermath of that Edinburgh won a penalty. This time van Der Walt made sure of the kick to give Edinburgh the last points of the half.
HT: Edinburgh 10 – 20 Ospreys
The first half trend of the side from the sunny climes of Wales being able to deal with the conditions better continued into the second half, whilst Edinburgh looked like even tying their shoelaces may have been beyond them.
It did take Ospreys 15 minutes of the half to extend their lead but eventually did so after prolonged pressure deep in Edinburgh’s half led to Mat Protheroe going over in the corner for his second of the night. This time Myler was unable to make the kick, but the scoreboard read: Edinburgh 10 Ospreys 25
And that was all she wrote. Ultimately the most positive thing for Edinburgh was that there was no further scoring when it looked like at one point if the margin could have been much greater.
FT: Edinburgh 10 Ospreys 25
Plus points. Very few. Some game time for Dan Nutton and Nathan Chamberlain. A start for Charlie Shiel who did no harm to his status. And that’s about it.
Negatives. How do I know thee, let me count the ways? Poor skills, for which the weather isn’t much of an excuse. Injuries? Crosbie after 5 minutes, Bradbury after 20, but defeat to a side that 3 games ago finished bottom of conference A? Let’s not forget a fourth consecutive loss for Edinburgh in advance of a trip to Cork to play Munster.
Player of the match: Hard one. In reality there was nothing to write home about in Edinburgh’s play but only really Damien Hoyland and Darcy Graham looked comfortable in the conditions and produced anything like performances, even in diversity, that would qualify for this award. On balance I’ll give it to the man from Hawick, who continues to look like the real deal even surrounded by mediocrity.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)