Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh: defiant display gives visitors valuable victory

Boot of Jaco van der Walt and try by Mark Bennett seal the win

Cardiff v Edinburgh
Mark Bennett evades the tackle of Owen Lane to score for Edinburgh. Image: Fotosport.


EDINBURGH claimed an excellent victory on the road this evening to make it two wins out of two in the PRO14, and although this match was a lot harder than the home win over Zebre had been, it was possibly all the more satisfying because of that.

Cardiff Blues, who themselves had enjoyed a good win in South Africa in round one, were never out of contention, and at times in the second half their dangerous backs threatened to over-run Richard Cockerill’s side. But the visitors’ defence held firm, then minutes from the end Mark Bennett, a hat-trick hero last week, got the try that sealed the result.

Jaco van der Walt converted the centre’s score and got his team’s other points through four penalties, while Duhan van der Merwe enjoyed some barnstorming runs. Mike Willemse showed up well on his first start, and George Taylor slotted in well after coming into the starting line-up very late when Matt Scott failed a fitness test.

Edinburgh were not knocked off their stride by that enforced alteration, beginning the game brightly and taking an early lead through two Jaco van der Walt penalties. Cardiff went for touch with their first three kickable penalties, and at the third time of asking they crossed with a lineout drive – only for the score to be rightly chalked off as hooker Liam Belcher had dropped the ball under pressure from Van der Merwe.

Edinburgh emerged from that passage of defensive play a man down, though, as Fraser McKenzie was sinbinned for conceding the second penalty. And the numerical disadvantage soon cost them as a backs move by the Blues ended in Owen Lane scoring in the right corner.

Van der Walt sent a penalty crashing back off a post as McKenzie returned to the field, and it was soon the Blues’ turn to be a man down for ten minutes as Seb Davies was sent packing for lifting Lewis Carmichael up by the legs then flipping him over. It was perhaps only because Carmichael appeared to land safely that Davies did not see red.

Edinburgh should have scored from the lineout drive which followed that penalty, but after an excellent charge by Willemse, McKenzie spilled forward. Jarrod Evans put his team ahead for the first time with a penalty after Nick Haining went off his feet, but a similar offence by Olly Robinson minutes later allowed Van der Walt to give his team a one-point advantage again. The South African had a chance to make that a four-point lead right at the end of the half, but his 45-metre effort went wide.

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Second half

Evans got another three points to put Cardiff 11-9 up with the first score of the second half, and for a while it looked like being just a matter of time before they took command of the match. But Edinburgh were always dangerous on the counter-attack, and after one break by Van der Merwe and Luke Crosbie was stopped short, a penalty was awarded against the Blues for offside and Van der Walt was on target again.

Not unduly perturbed by going behind again, Cardiff were soon back on the offensive, but in the end they were hit by a sucker punch as Taylor broke upfield then passed to Bennett, who accelerated away from an attempted tap tackle by Lane to score. Van der Walt converted, and although Cardiff pressed hard in the three minutes that remained, they could not get the score that would at least have given them a losing bonus point.

Teams –

Cardiff: M Morgan, O Lane, G Smith, W Halaholo, A Summerhill; J Evans, L Williams; B Thyer, L Belcher, D Arhip, S Davies, R Thornton, J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams (captain). Substitutes: K Dacey, C Domachowski, S Andrews, S Lewis-Hughes, W Boyde, L Jones, J Tovey, H Millard.

Edinburgh: D Hoyland; J Farndale, M Bennett, G Taylor, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Groom (captain); P Schoeman, M Willemse, P Ceccarelli, F McKenzie, M Douglas, L Carmichael, L Crosbie, N Haining. Substitutes: C Fenton, J Bhatti, M McCallum, M Kunavula, A Miller, C Shiel, S Hickey, J Johnstone.

Referee: F Murphy (Ireland).

Scorers: Cardiff: Try: Lane. Pens: J Evans 2.

Edinburgh: Try: Bennett. Con: Van der Walt. Pens: Van der Walt 4.

Scoring sequence (Cardiff first): 0-3, 0-6, 5-6, 8-6, 8-9 half-time, 11-9, 11-12, 11-17, 11-19.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1393 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.