Inter-District Championship: late Edinburgh surge breaks Caledonia Reds’ hearts

Jamie Sole leads the charge as hosts snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

Edinburgh centre Robbie Kent attempts evade the clutches of Caledonia Reds prop Struan Cessford. Image: Bryan Robertson.
Edinburgh centre Robbie Kent attempts evade the clutches of Caledonia Reds prop Struan Cessford. Image: Bryan Robertson.

Edinburgh 34

Caledonia Reds 33

COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place

EDINBURGH are still in the hunt for the Inter-District title after snatching a dramatic win in a tense ending to an action-packed encounter that served up 11 tries and plenty of drama. Reds looked set to bag the victory that would have kept their defence of the silverware alive, only to have their hopes dashed with the final play of the game.

The late, late winner capped a final quarter comeback by the hosts, and even their coach, Bob McKillop, admitted that he had doubted his side’s ability to claim the two converted tries they needed at that stage.

“I thought it was there for the taking in the first half but when it went out to 33-20 and the clock’s counting down you start to think that it will take a big comeback and a wee bit of accuracy that we haven’t shown up until then,” he said. “Both teams scored some wonderful tries and that was a full-on game. When it goes down to the last play it is exactly what this is all about.”


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And he is now relishing the trip to face Glasgow next week, adding: “We were very disappointed after last week and our aim for today was to go into the final weekend with a chance of being in the mix. So, mission accomplished by the skin of our teeth.”

His relief was a mirror image of the anguish displayed by his counterpart, Colin Sangster, who had believed that his team had corrected the errors that led to a narrow loss the previous week, but was left ruing defensive frailties.

“As early as 21-5, we looked threatening when we had the ball, but then we lost a couple of soft tries when we missed one-on-one tackles,” he lamented. “That continued to happen in the second half. Every time we got ahead, we let in some soft scores and at the end of the day they scored right at the death and we lost the game.

“Everyone else has won and we haven’t, so we’re sitting bottom after two games and we now have a massive game against the South next weekend. But we showed a massive improvement from last week, where I thought that we were just a bit undercooked.”

Reds started impressively and struck the first blow with four minutes on the clock. A 50-22 by Callum Beckett produced a line-out five metres from the Edinburgh line. A catch-and-drive was foiled but the ball was moved wide to Max Wallace and the Edinburgh Accies centre, playing on his home patch, stretched over. Beckett added the extras and he did so again with a mighty boot when DJ Innes picked up on the edge of the opposition 22 and raced in untouched to double the Reds’ try tally.

Edinburgh had failed to test their opponents in defence, but they offered a glimpse of their ability to attack at pace when Charlie Brett darted away and offloaded to Rory Hindhaugh, whose elusive run carried play into the 22, where the ball was moved wide to Neil Armstrong, who broke the final tackle to dot down.

Reds responded with a break from Connor Faulds, continued by Adriu Muritoki and finished off be Harry Russell, with Beckett again landing a conversion from out wide.

 

 

The home side bagged a second try when Jamie Sole gathered at the tail of a close-range line-out and sprinted over, and Edinburgh ensured they were within striking distance at the break after Brett carried on a break by Rory Kirkpatrick and fed Michael Badenhorst, who plunged over, meaning the difference between the sides at half time was Beckett’s successes with the boot against three Edinburgh misses.

The lack of accuracy in front of the posts continued after the restart with Badenhorst’s second score, the bonus point try – with a fine display of pace after a Kirkpatrick break – again going unconverted.

Reds secured their bonus point when Sam Cardosi was on hand to finish off after a line-out drive, with Beckett again thumping over the conversion, but the stand-off recorded his first miss after Malachy Keough had crashed over to take the lead into double figures with just over 20 minutes to play.

Sole, who had contributed well throughout, proved to be the pivotal figure in a thrilling finale. A penalty to touch after a deliberate knock-on by Innes, which earned the Reds centre a yellow-card, provided the platform for a surge to the line from the No 8 that was converted by Danny Owenson to leave a six-point gap.

Then, with the final play, Sole powered at a tiring Reds defence and drew the final man before releasing Stu Allison to gallop in between the sticks. Not for the first time in his career, Owenson was left with a pressure kick to clinch the victory. And not for the first time, he duly obliged.

 

Teams –

Edinburgh: Charlie Brett © (Currie Chieftains); Rory Hindhaugh (Musselburgh), Robbie Kent (Edinburgh Accies), Neil Armstrong (Edinburgh Accies), Ryan Daley (Currie Chieftains); Scott Clark (Preston Lodge), Gregor Christie (Currrie Chieftains); Ross Dunbar (Edinburgh Accies), Cal Davies (Edinburgh Accies), Graeme Carson (Currie Chieftains), Struan Whittaker (Edinburgh Accies), Michael Badenhorst (Musselburgh), Ali Bain (Currie Chieftains), Rory Kirkpatrick (Heriot’s Blues), Jamie Sole (Edinburgh Accies). Replacements: Ryan Stewart (Currie Chieftains), Cole Imrie (Edinburgh Accies), Arran Hain (Edinburgh Accies), Josh Minty (Watsonians), Stuart Allison (Watsonians), Patrick Ritchie (Edinburgh Accies), Danny Owenson (Musselburgh), Rory Watt (Musselburgh).

Caledonia Reds: Connor Faulds (Falkirk); Adriu Muritoki (Highland), Max Wallace (Edinburgh Accies/Deeside), DJ Innes (Currie Chieftains/Grangemouuth), Magnus Henry (Highland); Callum Beckett (Currie Chieftains/Stirling County), Harry Russell © (Falkirk);  Stephen Murray (Highland), Bryce Robertson (Watsonians/Stirling County), Struan Cessford (Heriot’s/Dundee), Connor McFarlane (Aberdeenshire), Malachy Keough (Heriot’s/High School of Dundee), Calum Macpherson (Highland), Sam Cardosi (Currie Chieftains/Dundee), Alistair Johnstone (Heriot’s/Dollar Academy). Replacements: Scott Rendall (Orkney), Glen Brough (Gala/Orkney), Ross Brown (Musselburgh/Ellon), Struan Robertson (Gordonians/Strathallan/Kirkcaldy), Rory Brown (Kirkcaldy), Fionnlagh Call (Musselburgh/Highland), Glen Faulds (Falkirk), Murray Mitchell (Strathmore).

Referee: S O’Neil

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Armstrong, Sole 2, Badenhorst 2, Allison; Cons: Owenson 2.

Caledonia Reds: Tries: Wallace, Innes, Russell, Cardosi, Keough; Cons: Beckett 4.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14; 5-19; 5-21; 10-21; 15-21 (h-t) 20-21; 20-26; 20-28; 20-33; 25-33; 27-33; 32-33; 34-33.

 

Yellow cards –

Caledonia Reds: Innes

 

Man-of-the-Match: There were numerous contenders on both sides, but the key man was Jamie Sole, who turned the game with two late contributions that capped an impressive performance which featured numerous examples of his ball carrying skills and ability to find the try line.

Talking point: This was a superb contest that underlined the competitive nature of this competition – with virtually nothing between all four sides in the opening two rounds – as well as its importance to the players for many of whom this will be the peak of their careers.


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About Colin Renton 288 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!

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