Can Somebody Play 10?
With rain in the air, the DAM Health Stadium seemed quiet and nervous as we all awaited the sizable Vodacom Bulls to run out and take on Edinburgh. Worries went through my head, are we strong enough up front? Will the absence of our new talisman Ben Vellacott dampen our attack? How will Pierre “The Greatest” Schoeman deal with his old team mates? All was answered in another exciting, noisy, frustrating eighty minutes at the DAM Health Stadium.
Edinburgh started well, the forwards punching holes through the monstrous Vodacom Bulls, Charlie Shiel whipping the ball away from the breakdown to allow some inventive attack moves by the backs which eventually allowed Henry Immelman to touch down his first try for the Capitol side after Damian Hoyland kicked a peach of a ball over the Bull’s tryline.
This was to be Edinburgh’s only try of the night as the Bull’s defence seemed to strengthen and no matter how much they tried, Darcey Graham, James Lang, James Johnstone and Hoyland could not finish their attack moves to join Immelman on the score sheet. Jaco Van Der Walt however took his chances slotting three penalty kicks in a ten minute period until a particularly nasty shoulder injury took him from the field of play.
Half-time: Edinburgh 14-3 Vodacom Bulls
The rain was definitely not staying in the air after the half time break, the new 4G pitch was getting a good watering whether it needed it or not. The Bulls brought the ball into the forwards for the second half and started to attack the Edinburgh line. Some big hits ensued with Edinburgh absorbing the pressure. Luke Crosbie, Bill Mata and Magnus Bradbury in particularly standing out. The pressure finally broke the defence however with Marcell Coetzee bursting over the line for the Bulls.
Stand Off changed again when James Lang left the field with an injury. Mark Bennett took over the position with Ben Vellacott taking a place on the wing. The home team started to feel the pressure. The game changed in the Bulls favour, pressure being built by the ageing Springbok Morne Steyn who had come on at Stand Off and showed why he is still called on by the Boks. It was another ageing South African however that made the DAM Health Stadium rise to its feet and bring the noise once again. WP Nel freshened up the front row of Edinburgh’s scrum and immediately took his opposite number apart. Whether Edinburgh or Vodacom Bull’s ball, Schoeman, Cherry and Nel had the Bull’s going backwards as if they were on roller-skates. Mark Bennett then slotted the final points of the match after a scrum penalty provided by the smiling Nel.
Referee Ben Whitehouse provided the South African press with copy in the last minutes of the match after denying Madosh Tambwe a last minute score. The Vodacom Bull’s winger was judged to have scored using a double movement.
Edinburgh 17-10 Vodacom Bulls FT
A gutsy win from an under pressure Edinburgh just when they needed it. The home team did however make the game far harder for themselves than it needed to be. Henry Immelman struggles with accuracy from his boot, a last minute kick to touch drifted back into play when he seemed to be too ambitious. The Edinburgh lineout however was the major concern. Two or three scoring chances were thrown away when the Bulls capitalised on poor lineout ball. This needs to be fixed immediately.
Bill Mata was a worthy player of the match however Magnus Bradbury stood out seemingly back to his hard charging best. The last word however has to go to a lone voice in the Lothian Stand. After watching WP Nel take apart the Bulls scrum he was heard to shout “our South Africans are effing better than yours Bismark!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.