EDINBURGH made it four wins from six starts in the URC last night, but after a spectacular opening spell they had to dig deep before securing a bonus-point victory that keeps them in touch towards the top of the table.
They threatened to overrun the Dragons in the first half at Rodney Parade, as Emiliano Boffelli scored just two minutes into his debut and his fellow-Pumas international Ramiro Moyano touched down twice. But in between Moyano’s two scores the home team fought back, and they must have fancied their chances in the second half after going in at the break just three points behind.
In the second half, however, Mike Blair’s side showed there is more than one way to skin a Dragon, playing a tighter game but still retaining the upper hand. Two penalties from Blair Kinghorn all but secured the victory with time running out, then in the 80th minute Damien Hoyland claimed the bonus-point try.
It was a performance that had its ups and downs, but it was thoroughly entertaining at times, and provided further evidence that this team are maturing quickly. It was all the more impressive given Blair had rested Pierre Schoeman, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie and Darcy Graham, and the head coach was understandably pleased with the evening’s work – especially given the adverse conditions.
“That was genuinely one of the worst winds in a game I’ve ever been involved in,” Blair said. “It was so strong, blowing all over the pitch.
“We wanted to play with tempo and keep hold of the ball, rather than just giving it back to the Dragons. That was backed up by energy and physicality. So I was really pleased.”
As for the two Pumas, Blair was delighted by how well they had gelled, and is confident that Boffelli – who only joined up with his new team-mates on Monday – will be a major asset to the team. “I deliberately paired them and selected them together,” he added. “I felt that would be important for them in terms of communication.
“The pair of them were outstanding and deserved their tries. There’s a lot more to come from Emiliano especially, as he only joined the group earlier this week.”
Edinburgh were pinned back in their own half for the first couple of minutes, but they worked patiently in search of an opening. A kick through by James Lang was blocked, but the centre had highlighted a gap in the home defence, and a minute later Boffelli exploited it. Nick Haining made the half-break in midfield, and the full-back kicked ahead then put in another shorter kick before touching down. Kinghorn converted.
Having gone ahead on the scoreboard, Edinburgh got on top in the scrum as well, drawing penalties from the home team at the first two set-pieces. Playing advantage after the second offence, they should have stretched their lead through Hoyland, but the winger was held up by Sam Davies.
The visitors were unable to find an opening after opting to scrum again, but they kept up the pressure. Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Hodgson and James Lang all had good carries deep into the Dragons half, and eventually Moyano managed to squeeze in at the left corner. Kinghorn was just off target with the conversion attempt this time.
The Dragons had looked out of sorts after losing Taine Basham to an early HIA, but they got a score back with an excellent move of their own. Jordan Williams made the initial break, captain Harrison Keddie carried on into the Edinburgh 22, and Davies was up in support to finish off and add the conversion.
The Welsh team were soon back under pressure and the penalty count against them continued to mount. But at times Edinburgh were too eager to force an opening when attacking patiently was more likely to pay dividends.
A five-point lead was hardly a fair reflection of how dominant they had been – and that lead vanished seven minutes before the break when right-winger Jonah Holmes finished off. Davies converted again to put the Dragons ahead.
Edinburgh needed to hit back before half-time – and they did when Moyano hacked ahead from a loose ball and won the race to touch down. Kinghorn missed the conversion again, but at least his team were back in front as the whistle went for half-time.
The Dragons had two penalties in the opposition 22 in the last minute of the half, but they went for touch both times and failed to score from the lineouts.
Season Appeal 2022
We hope you are enjoying our unrivalled coverage of Scottish Rugby. While mainstream media continues to reduce its interest in the rugby family in Scotland, The Offside Line does its very best to make sure all levels of the domestic game are reported.
Our commitment to the game and sharing its stories means that we do not have a paywall, so we would ask you (only if you can!) to support The Offside Line, either with a one off donation, or with a monthly contribution.
We have been keeping Scottish rugby in the news since 2016 and will have 3 million page views this year, making The Offside Line first for Scottish rugby.
Edinburgh played more patiently in the third quarter, relying on their forwards to gain ground steadily rather than looking for something spectacular from the backs. The Dragons eventually offended in front of their own posts, and this time Kinghorn made no mistake with the penalty.
With both teams running out of steam a bit after the 100mph first half, Edinburgh got another kickable penalty a dozen minutes from time after failing to find an opening in a defiant Dragons defence. Kinghorn was on target again to put his side nine points clear.
That was just about game over, as the Dragons’ attempts to run out of defence were snuffed out with relative comfort. But there was still the small matter of the bonus-point try to chase for the visitors, and when they were awarded a penalty inside the final minute they saw their chance. Kinghorn kicked to touch, clean possession was won, and at the end of a multi-phase move Hoyland crossed for a well-deserved score. Kinghorn’s conversion ended the game.
“It was a funny one,” Blair said of that final play. “With about 76 minutes on the clock, we were nine points ahead. I was thinking: ‘Are we just going to secure the win, or are we going to go for the bonus point?’
“Going for the bonus point was excellent. The players showed a huge amount of drive to go and get it and get us over the line.”
Dragons: J Williams; J Holmes, J Dixon (A Owen 36), J Roberts, R Dyer (J Olowela 70); S Davies, G Bertranou; G Bateman (J Reynolds 70), T Davies (E Shipp 58), C Coleman (L Brown 41), B Carter, J Maksymiw, H Keddie (captain), T Basham (H Taylor 4), O Griffiths.
Edinburgh: E Boffelli; D Hoyland, M Currie, J Lang (C Hutchison 36), R Moyano (C Savala 76); B Kinghorn, B Vellacott (captain) (H Pyrgos 72); B Venter, A McBurney (D Cherry 51), W Nel (A Williams 70), M Sykes, J Hodgson, N Haining (C Boyle 61), L Crosbie, M Bradbury (B Muncaster 69).
Referee: M Adamson (SRU).
Dragons: Tries: S Davies, J Holmes. Cons: S Davies 2.
Edinburgh: Tries: Boffelli, Moyano 2, Hoyland. Cons: Kinghorn 2. Pens: Kinghorn 2.
Scoring sequence (Dragons first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 5-12; 7-12; 12-12; 14-12; 14-17 (h-t) 14-20; 14-23; 14-28; 14-30.