Edinburgh v Ospreys: hosts recover from mid-match wobble to stay on URC play-off track

Defensive resolve at the death keeps capital club on track

Harry Paterson breaks for Edinburgh during United Rugby Championship victory over Ospreys at Hive Stadium. Image:© Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Harry Paterson breaks for Edinburgh during United Rugby Championship victory over Ospreys at Hive Stadium. Image:© Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 19

Ospreys 15

STUART BATHGATE @ Hive Stadium

EDINBURGH clung on for a win which, while it had its frustrations, has taken them a step closer to the URC play-offs. At 16-3 up at the break they should arguably have kicked on and made things easier for themselves, but Ospreys dominated the second 40 and came close to snatching a dramatic win at the death.

However, the home defence dashed Welsh hopes by stealing the line-out in those dying seconds, leaving head coach Sean Everitt to reflect on an evening which, although far from perfect, saw his team achieve their principal goal of four more points.

“We’re getting into the habit of this,” Everitt said. “It wasn’t the complete performance that we had hoped for tonight. I thought we started the game off well. Going into half-time 16-3 up, which could have been 19, we were clearly on top.


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“It was going to be tough in the second half with the wind, but we didn’t get a good start against a team that doesn’t go away. We knew they were going to push us all the way through to the 80th minute and that’s exactly what they did.

“We spoke about that at half-time. We did get ascendancy in the scrums and set-piece, but unfortunately what let us down were our unforced errors. And our maul didn’t get any go-forward.”

Edinburgh had made one late change to their 23 – on the bench, where Cammy Scott came in for James Lang, who had been ill earlier in the week. In the event Scott was the only home substitute not to be used.

The first chance of the game came after Sam Skinner won clean line-out ball and  Harry Paterson broke from midfield. Ospreys offended in front of their own posts, but instead of going for goal, the home team sent the ball to touch, only to then be penalised themselves before they could get their maul going.

At the other end, Ospreys won a scrum penalty on the edge of the Edinburgh 22, and stand-off Dan Edwards was on target to open the scoring. The Welshmen continued to look dangerous for a time after that, but it was Edinburgh who got the next score.

More good possession from the line-out started the move off. Bill Mata broke through before feeding Matt Currie, and then as the defence closed him down the centre passed to Hamish Watson, who finished off from a couple of metres out. Ben Healy converted, then over the next five minutes or so added two long-range penalties to give his team a 10-point lead.

 

 

Ospreys hardly deserved to be behind at all at that stage, never mind by double digits, but they had started to make life difficult for themselves with their indiscipline. And when they created their next scoring chance from a kick ahead by winger Keelan Giles, they again let Edinburgh off the hook by offending on the ground in the scramble for the loose ball.

Going into the last 10 minutes of the half, Ospreys sent a penalty to touch on the edge of the home 22. But this time they fumbled the lineout, allowing Ben Vellacott and Boan Venter to advance into their half before the counter-attack broke down.

Edinburgh then got another penalty from the scrum, just inside the Ospreys 22, and Healy was once more on target.

Another break by Giles briefly threatened to produce a try with mere minutes left in the half, but Paterson got back on time to intercept what would have been a scoring pass. After being thwarted there, Ospreys knew they needed to score first in the second half to get back into the game – and they did with 47 minutes on the clock. They sent a penalty into touch deep inside the home half, and hooker Sam Parry finished off from the lineout. Edwards’ conversion attempt crashed back off a post, so the score stayed 16-8.

Ali Price came on at scrum-half as Edinburgh tried to up the tempo, and winger Wes Goosen also came off the bench on his return from a long-term injury. A good break by Paterson nearly reached the line, but he was dispossessed just in time by Kieran Williams. Edinburgh kept up the pressure, but Healy was off target with a penalty for the first time.

Ospreys were far from finished, and inside the final quarter-hour they got their second try of the night. Their first drive off the back of a scrum was held up by the defence, but they changed the angle of the attack and substitute Morgan Morris forced his way over the line. Owen Williams converted to make it a one-point game at 16-15.

 

 

With seven minutes left, Healy made no mistake with a penalty from in front of the posts to make it 19-15. Ospreys needed a try to win, and they seemed to have carved out the perfect chance of claiming one when they sent a penalty to touch inside the final 90 seconds.

The throw was a short one, aiming at a blindside score in the corner, but Edinburgh could see the move coming and snaffled possession. “That’s one of the pleasing things of coaching,” Everitt added.

“[Forwards coach] Stevie Lawrie worked extremely hard in the defence of that particular play and he was shouting in the coaches’ box that they were going to do it. The one brain was outstanding in being able to stop that, so that was pleasing.

“I think there were aspects of our game tonight that were really good. Our kick accuracy maybe let us down a little bit, but I’m just happy that we got the win.

“Staying in touch with the guys at the top is going to be important in a log that looks like it does. Then we’ve got a tough trip to South Africa as well.

“So we’re still happy where we are, and we’re just happy with the win as well.”

 

Teams – 

Edinburgh: E Boffelli; H Paterson, M Bennett, M Currie, C Dean (W Goosen 55); B Healy, B Vellacott (captain, A Price 55); B Venter (L de Bruin 70), D Cherry (P Harrison 65), W Nel (J Sebastian 51), S Skinner (M Sykes 65), G Young, T Dodd (B Muncaster 65), H Watson, V Mata.

Ospreys: J Walsh; A Cuthbert (M Protheroe 67), E Boshoff, K Williams, K Giles; D Edwards (O Williams 62), L Davies; N Smith (R Henry 67), S Parry (L Lloyd 55), T Botha (B Warren 58), J Ratti, V Sekekete (R Davies 54), H Deaves, J Tipuric (captain), J Rudolph (M Morris 54).

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland).

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Try: Watson; Con: Healy; Pens: Healy 4.

Ospreys: Tries: Parry, Morris; Con: O Williams; Pen: Edwards.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 10-3; 13-3; 16-3 (h-t) 16-8; 16-13; 16-15; 19-15.

 

Attendance: 7,030.


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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.

22 Comments

  1. I can’t understand this attitude from Edinburgh fans they won and are 4th in the league. That’s a big improvement from where they have been, but they aren’t entertaining enough. They played from everywhere under Blair, lost more often and than not and he wad slated too. The sense of entitlement or selective memory is shocking.

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  2. I think folk are being a wee bit hard on Edinburgh’s style.

    Last night was never a night for slick, attacking rugby. It was freezing cold and the pitch and ball were soaking wet.

    DVDM and Goosen are both in the top 5 URC players for defenders beaten, so clearly our wingers have been getting plenty of ball to play with relative to other teams in the league.

    Losses have been turned into losses with bonus points and losses with bonus points have been turned into wins this season. As fans we need to stop putting pressure on the team to target bonus point wins – that nearly cost us the win last night as we went chasing tries that were never on instead of kicking more points.

    If you want playoff rugby, winning is what is important. We will be comfortably in the playoffs if we keep up our current win:loss ratio, quite possibly with a home tie.

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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    • Garry the truth is Edinburgh never looked like scoring another try. Yes sometimes we need to win ugly and conditions were awful, but no disrespect to Ospreys if we face any of the leading teams with no attacking edge we will lose. Couple that with the fact we continuously box kicked to a very grateful George North with no effective chase and the fact we continuously dropped the high balls (they didn’t) and we can see there is a huge amount of work to do before we compete for Silverware. BPs are important we have the same number of wins as the second and third placed teams yet they are 6 points ahead, Munster with one less win are on the same points. BPs matter. Run from anywhere no, have an attacking gameplan when appropriate – yes.

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      • I agree we never looked like scoring again which is why we should have been kicking points at the start of the second half instead of chasing bonus points that everyone seems to agree we are not capable of scoring. Would you agree with that?

        I would love to see more enterprising rugby but I am much more concerned that the team does not seem to understand the moment they are in and continually makes stupid decisions as a result.

        Scoreboard pressure also plays it part in stopping running, offloading rugby, especially on a night like Friday. Once you are more than a couple of scores up, you are much more likely to take a chance with ball in hand. We never got there though because we went chasing tries through a set piece that wasn’t working either.

        So, while we undertake all the work you say (and I agree) is needed, what do we do? Play to our strengths and win games or go out to entertain and lose games? If we do not decide which, we will end up falling between the two stools and play rotten rugby but lose too and that is a recipe for long term failure.

        BPs only matter marginally across an 18 game season. Yes, they COULD make the difference between finishing 4th or 5th, or 8th and 9th but for a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year, sitting in 4th place with most of the season gone is a great place to be. We just have to keep winning more games than we lose and we will be fine, BPs or not.

      • Bonus points are important but wins are importanter and wins aren’t something Edinburgh have had too many off last few seasons. Holding out for Champions Cup qualification would be massive

  3. I’ll admit to not having seen Edinburgh play beyond highlight reels but dare I suggest it looks like Kinghorn is being really missed as a strong dynamic runner, even as a 10? Him and Graham were often the spark in the past and could see spare and opportunities when others maybe couldn’t. Healy is a very different kind of player, not bad just different in terms of strengths and don’t think a suitable playing strategy has been worked out which fits the players – or the players haven’t bought into the coaches strategy, there seems a mismatch. We’ll always suffer at 6N when we’re deprived of a lot of the best talent but a coaches job should be to realise that and come up with a game plan or two that everyone can buy into. Someone like Rory Hutchinson would be great to have but why would he leave Saints when he’s probably on a better wage there and GT has continually overlooked him for the national team?

    • Warks i agree as per my earlier post but GT has a terrible track record overlooking many good players often performing at their peak form.

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      • Does he? Like who?

        I can’t think of any major examples. Hutchinson maybe but he’s hot and cold with Saints and there’s been well documented concerns around his defence. Huw Jones was excluded for a while but was mainly playing fullback at the time.

        Our player pool just isn’t big enough to not pick someone who’s form is demanding it.

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  4. Of course the attack is turgid.Healy isn’t a club standard ten let alone pro level. He can kick the ball a long way (not necessarily accurately mind) but that’s it. No wonder Munster were happy to take cash for their 3rd choice stand off. He’s clearly a nice guy but trying to learn how to pass ‘on the job’ is as painful to watch as poor Phil Goodman after that Italy nightmare. The backs outside him have no chance to play.

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  5. No attacking threat from backs, no maul threat, and many high balls dropped. It’s amazing they won but Edinburgh are not a good watch just now.

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    • Exactly.After last season Edinburgh had to toughen up and learn to “win ugly” They did learn-but now apply that theme to every game!
      As you say a tough watch (honourable exceptions Hamish and Harry P).
      I have towatch Glasgow (and Scotland) these days for some adrenalin.

  6. My goodness, that was a dreadful spectacle, a turgid game. If you want to attract spectators to the Hive that is not the way to go about your rugger business. I feel for the wingers and such a talented full back, that said Paterson tried to get involved, but high balls was not his specialty last night. Watson & Mata showed up well, and a nuisance thank goodness.
    Edinburgh I’m afraid are going nowhere with this type of rugby, truck it up & kick chase, so booooooooooooring, it’s pretty difficult to watch and be objective. They’re gonna have to learn how to keep ball in hand, and heaven forbid pass it along the line and maybe even involve the full back, and that would be a revelation.
    C’mon Edinburgh you can do better than this?.

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    • George they have been awful most of the season and what is the Edinburgh rugby DNA or playing blueprint because it is very unclear what they are trying to achieve.

      How can the coach say Edinburgh got dominance in the setpiece is that because they were getting minced in the first half??

      IMHO I think in all sincerity that Nel should consider hanging up his boots at the end of the season before his fantastic legacy gets tarnished.

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  7. A 12 at 13, a 13 at 12, a 12 on the wing, no wingers, no pace and slow ball from 9.
    Healy kicked well and only Mata.looked capable of a break.
    Umpteen early dropped balls and the scrum really creaked early on.
    Given all that on a positive note Edinburgh ultimately did very well to win, defended pretty well and there was no shortage of effort from the boys. Watson was rightfully MOM. And 4 points in the bag in pretty dreich conditions
    I suppose you could say Graham, VDM, Lang injured. Kinghorn gone, Savala on loan as a sort of mitigation but backs showed very little indeed.
    Nice to see Goosen and Muncaster back

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      • I liked his ambition to go forward and back himself. Also the industry to work back and save a nailed on try at the other end. Lots of errors though (but not unique in the Edinburgh team on that last night). Greasy conditions and all that, but they just didn’t look like scoring for most of the 2nd half of the game. A win is a win but there was quite a lot that was concerning and needs working on.

  8. Woeful attack – the only attacking success was Mata in space. Edinburgh must invest in a new attack coach. Ospreys never dropped a high ball Edinburgh barely caught one. A very poor performance we were lucky to win and if we attack as poorly cannot see us getting any bonus points.

  9. Just back and can only say thankful for the 4 points at the end of the day. I thought in nasty conditions they managed the game really well in the 1st half and was happy at 16-3. It seemed a game made for Healy – kick to touch and take the penalties on offer which were plentiful. Ospreys are a gritty side and hard to break down so building a lead was important.

    In the 2nd half they took 30 minutes to score the one penalty, despite much more time in the Ospreys 22 and more attacking opportunities. By trying to play more rugby in the 2nd half they just made so many mistakes which gave the ball back too easily to Ospreys who took advantage. Perhaps they should have stuck to the more pragmatic tactics and taken a few penalties on offer. Whilst their defence is good, their attack is blunt and lacks much creativity – apart for Bill Mata charging into piles of bodies they really don’t make many line breaks. They are winning these tight games and have won 2 more games in the league than the whole season last year. They dont play with anything like the fluency you see from Glasgow but well take the 4 points and move on. The trip to South Africa looks very tough in a few weeks time.

  10. There could be no complaints had Edinburgh lost that after a very comfortable first half – that’s how bad the second half was.

    Non existent game management. eg turning down a (albeit lengthy) kick from straight in front of the posts to make it more than a two score game only to fail with another maul was asking for trouble and, sure enough, moments later we are only 8 points ahead instead of potentially 16.

    Beyond frustrating.

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  11. The lack of bonus points is going to kill Edinburgh’s season, and frankly it will be what they deserve because the attacking strategy, such as it is, is completely non-existent… ship the ball along the line, go nowhere, Healy hoofs it up in the air. Turgid.

    Great that they can grind out results like tonight, but against a good team in a crunch match or a play-off they will get absolutely nowhere.

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    • Turgid is a great word to describe how Edinburgh play and the coach was given a two year extension!!!!

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