Edinburgh v Zebre: Richard Cockerill hails team morale after gritty win

Head coach believes that his young team's performance demonstrates that squad is pulling together

Edinburgh winger Eroni Sau celebrates his try with Blair Kinghorn. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Edinburgh winger Eroni Sau celebrates his try with Blair Kinghorn. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 24

Zebre 18

DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield

IT has been a tough old season for Richard Cockerill and his Edinburgh team, but the head coach believes that this winning start to their Rainbow Cup campaign demonstrates that morale in the camp remains intact.

With a number of youngsters stepping up well – most notably 20-year-old Matt Currie, who was making his first start for the club at outside-centre – the head coach now has a few new selection calls to make before the team’s next outing against Glasgow Warriors in the third and deciding leg of this year’s 1872 Cup in a fortnight’s time.

“We’ve had a couple of good training weeks, we’ve had a good performance tonight, does it look like it’s a team that’s not happy?” he said.  “It’s 15 blokes that are happy tonight and there will be another 35 that are not happy because they didn’t play, I suppose. You can’t keep everybody happy all of the time.

“We’re a good squad, we’re working together, and it’s enough of that question, really.

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“I am pleased for the players,” he added. “We gave some of the young players a chance and that could have been a risk as we could have ended up losing but they came through.

“We had a good spirit in the camp with the Test boys coming back and they have helped all week preparing these guys to play and as a club we are in good fettle. Developing players is great but winning at the same time is the thing that really makes a difference.

“The young players were very good, and I thought Luke Crosbie as captain led really well, while Matt Currie at 13 had a really good game as well. The whole team were solid. We were under pressure and we were behind but we found a way to win. The effort and the mentality of the group was great across the board.

“There is a great spirit in the team and this win is great for the whole squad. We’ll have a good training week next week and then look forward to Glasgow and we will pick our best team against them.”

The most obvious negative from this match was that Edinburgh failed to pick up the four-try bonus point which their second half performance probably deserved, with the decision in the last few minutes to kick for goal rather than the corner a real head-scratcher (given they they were eight points ahead and had three tries already in the bag at that point). Apart from that, it was a solid if unspectacular performance by the capital outfit.

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After Carlo Canna had given Zebre an early lead with an offside penalty, Edinburgh promptly hit back with a well-taken Eroni Sau try after some slick handling, which was converted from the touchline by Nathan Chamberlain, but that was about as good as it got for the home side during the opening 40 minutes.

A high tackle by Blair Kinghorn on the marauding Canna allowed the Italian stand-off to narrow the gap to a single point, and the visitors then took the lead when some more home indiscipline provided Zebre with a line-out platform five yards from the try line, from which Andrea Lovotti burrowed over to make 7-13 at the break.

Sau lit up the start of the second half with a bustling break up the middle of the park off clean line-out ball from skipper and man-of-the-match Luke Crosbie, and the momentum was carried on by second-row Jamie Hodgson before Crosbie reappeared on the scene to stretch over the whitewash. Chamberlain had no problem adding the extras from right in front of the posts.

Edinburgh were now in control. Kinghorn was bundled into touch in the right corner, and Sau was squeezed out on the opposite side, before an excellently-timed pass from Chris Dean sent Currie – hitting a great line like a runaway train – under the posts.

Edinburgh threatened again when a smart transfer back inside from Currie sent Damien Hoyland into acres of space, and the try was on if the winger had been inclined to despatch the return pass, but he cut infield and was swallowed up. A few seconds later, Currie did exceptionally well to get back and clear the danger after Zebre had hoofed a loose ball downfield. It was frantic stuff.

Then, with three minutes left on the clock, Edinburgh made that odd decision to go for the sticks with a penalty on the 22. Chamberlain bisected the posts – cementing the win – but it sucked up valuable game-time which surely would have been better deployed chasing the four-try bonus-point.

In the end, Zebre had the last say when Pierre Bruno broke clear, and Nicolò Casilio was the link man who sent Johan Meyer over.


Teams –

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Hoyland (J Blain, 69), M Currie, G Taylor (C Dean  55), E Sau; N Chamberlain, C Shiel (R Frostwick 76); B Venter (P Schoeman 51), M Willemse (P Harrison 51), L Atalifo (W Nel 51), M Sykes, J Hodgson, M Kunavula (C Boyle 57), L Crosbie, B Muncaster (V Mata 61).

Zebre: M Biondelli (A Rizzi 64); P Bruno, F Mori, E Lucchin, G Di Giulio (J Elliott 69); C Canna, M Violi (N Casilio 56); A Lovotti (D Rimpelli 54), M Ceciliani (G Ribaldi 62), E Bello (A Tarus 62), D Sisi (L Krumov 69), I Nagle, P Leavasa (G Licata 60), J Meyer, R Giammarioli.


Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Sau, Crosbie, Currie; Cons: Chamberlain 3; Pen: Chamberlain.

Zebre: Tries: Lovotti, Meyer; Con: Canna Pen: Canna 2.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 7-6; 7-11; 7-13 (h-t) 12-13; 14-13; 19-13; 21-13; 24-13, 24-18.

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About David Barnes 4004 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

1 Comment

  1. Very oor first half, better 2nd half. I’d love to see Chamberlain take the ball to the line more rather than just passing. I like the look of Connor Boyle, a summer in the gym and a decent preseason could see him step up.

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