Edinburgh v Cardiff: gritty win for Cockerill’s team in the fog

Edinburgh celebrate David Cherry's try as the fog closes in at Murrayfield. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 18

Cardiff Blues 0


IN FOGGY conditions which verged on the farcical the longer the game went on, Edinburgh kept clear heads to claim their second win of the season. The result was not as comfortable as that final score suggests, and the contest only really tipped decisively in the home team’s favour once they had withstood a period of Cardiff pressure early in the second half. Even so, given the fact that they had a whole matchday squad of players missing through international call-ups, injury and self-isolation, this was an excellent result.

“It’s a good win,” head coach Richard Cockeril said. “I thought the players applied themselves well. During training week the boys were left to their own devices whether to kick to corners, kick to the posts. In the game they kicked to the corners and got their rewards and controlled the game really well.
“Obviously the weather conditions got pretty bad in that second half and we made a little bit hard work of it from the kick off in the second period. But with the guys we had missing and the issues we have around injury the boys played exceptionally well and we deserved to win.
‘Nathan Chamberlain did well at ten, Henry Pyrgos is a good leader and steered the ship well and our centres Mark Bennett and Chris Dean helped Nathan too. I will have to go through the game but on the face of it Nathan was composed and he made his tackles and kicked the goals he wanted to. When he kicked for touch he made really good ground so I thought he put in a really good performance and one we can build on.’’

The match began in encouraging fashion for the home team, with two periods of sustained possession culminating in Chamberlain opening the scoring with a 25-metre penalty. The Cardiff line had not really been threatened, but the home team had stuck to their task assiduously to force the opening.

They were soon back on the offensive, as well, but again were unable to force their way far into the 22 against a well-drilled defence. This time the attack ended with a penalty to Cardiff, allowing them to clear their lines. As the first half approached its midway point, however, that defensive solidity had not translated into any go-forward ball for the Blues, partly because of their own unforced errors, but also thanks to a couple of crunching tackles from Eroni Sau.

When the visitors did finally get some width on the ball, they soon conceded a penalty, which Edinburgh sent to touch deep into the Blues’ 22. The initial drive was held, but a series of pick-and-goes edged closer to the posts, then prop Atalifo finished off. Chamberlain converted to take his team into double figures.  

Stung into action by falling further behind, Cardiff upped the tempo and soon won a penalty 30m out. Jason Tovey’s kick looked on target all the way, but it bounced off the far post and back into play for Edinburgh to clear.

Despite that failure, the move was the first real warning sign for the home defence, and the closing minutes of the half found them under heavy pressure again. They were equal to the challenge, however, and a spilled ball allowed them to clear their lines and add the half 10-0 to the good.

That lead was under severe threat straight from the restart as a breakdown penalty went to touch and the Blues forwards put together a similar drive to the one that had produced Atalifo’s try. That one was stopped, as was a second on the opposite side of the field. 

Edinburgh then got back on to the front foot, and a penalty for offside was sent to touch. Cherry threw in then got on the end of the maul, and a sustained effort ended with the hooker touching down. Chamberlain’s conversion attempt drifted just wide.

With props Dan Gamble and Sam Grahamslaw on for their debuts, Cockerill’s side had some late half-chances to extend their lead. There was one clear-cut opportunity, however, and that was the one that counted, as Chamberlain ended the game with his second successful penalty.

Ken Scotland: an unlikely revolutionary who embodies the spirit of rugby

Danny Wilson admits ‘shock’ at lack of player release during Nations Cup

That was the month that was: October 2020

Edinburgh: J Blain; E Sau, M Bennett, C Dean (J Johnstone 74), J Farndale; N Chamberlain, H Pyrgos (captain) (N Groom 78); P Schoeman (S Grahamslaw 77), D Cherry (M Willemse 54), L Atalifo (D Gamble 53), A Ferreira (M Sykes 66), J Hodgson, M Bradbury, L Crosbie (C Boyle 68), A Miller. Unused substitute: C Shiel.

Cardiff Blues: H Amos; A Summerhill (M Morgan 54), G Smith, M Llewellyn, O Lane; J Tovey (B Thomas 48), L Jones (J Hill 49); B Thyer (C Domachowski 43), K Dacey (captain) (E Lewis 65), D Arhip (S Andrews 54), J Ratti (B Murphy 54), R Thornton, J Turnbull, O Robinson, W Boyde (S Moore 18). 

Referee: A Brace (Ireland).

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Atalifo, Cherry. Con: Chamberlain. Pens: Chamberlain 2.

Ken Scotland: an unlikely revolutionary who embodies the spirit of rugby

About Stuart Bathgate 1414 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.