by STUART RUTHERFORD
EDINBURGH’S woeful Guinness Pro 12 form continued this [Friday] evening when they lost their sixth consecutive league match in a lacklustre display against the Scarlets.
The hosts secured a bonus-point in the first half hour and despite a solitary reply from Edinburgh’s Phil Bureligh, the result was never in doubt.
Edinburgh have now not won a league match since defeating Zebre 24-19 on the 31st Decemeber, and tonight’s defeat maintains the struggling side’s record this season of losing every game in which they have trailed at half-time.
Despite several high-scoring performances in the Champions Cup – including a 36-35 win over Harlequins – Edinburgh have struggled to transfer their European potency into league form; and in the six Pro 12 defeats that have occured since December, Duncan Hodge’s side have failed to register more than 20 points in any match.
Here are the moments that mattered from tonight’s loss to the Scarlets –
Rhys Patchell scorches Edinburgh’s back line
With the Scarlets’ formidable home record of seven wins in eight Pro 12 fixtures, it was always going to be an uphill task for Edinburgh to grab a positive result at the Parc y Scarlets, however, the job was made even more difficult when Rhys Patchell stormed in with only two minutes on the clock. The try arrived following a breakdown in Edinburgh’s back-line communication. With Patchell receiving the ball on the half-way line, the visitor’s stagnant defence was left pre-occupied by several Scarlet’s dummy runners, leaving the stand-off with a considerable gap to accelerate through. With Blair Kinghorn caught in no-man’s-land, Patchell put on the afterburners and breezed in from 40 metres, virtually untouched.
Front-row connection drags Edinburgh back into the contest
Further tries from Wyn Jones and James Davies fired the Scarlets into a 19-3 lead after only 25 minutes, before Edinburgh crossed the whitewash for their first try of the evening. With the hosts securing the restart after the Davies try and looking to clear their lines, Aled Davies’ attempted box-kick took a wicked deflection off the combined hands of Ross Ford and Simon Berghan, causing it to spin perfectly into the clutches of fellow front-row Alan Dell. From there the Scotland international did superbly to spin out of contact, before offloading to Phil Burleigh, who arrived on a perfectly timed run. With the score now 19-10, the visitors had clawed themselves back into a match which had looked like running away from them.
Davies strip proves fruitful
The hosts’ complete control of the match in the opening half hour showcased the gulf in class between the 5th and 9th place clubs; and on 30 minutes, the Scarlets turned the screw further when they t secured the bonus point with try number four. The catalyst for this score was the defensive work of the hosts’ surely New Zealand bound centre, Jonathan Davies. The Welshman enveloped Tom Brown like a bad rash as he gathered Patcher’s neat chip ahead, and stripped the ball with a suplex-like tackle before the Edinburgh winger had a chance to offload, allowing . When the Scarlets then got the ball wide to Patchell for his second try of the evening, it was effectively game over for Edinburgh.
Kinghorn goes close
Clear cut chances were few and far between in the second half, but visiting full-back Blair Kinghorn did find himself within metres of the try-line following a sublime break from Phil Burleigh. The inside-centre – who had handling issues all evening – hit a short ball off the shoulder of Duncan Weir at pace and cut a devastating swather through the onrushing Scarlets’ defence, and then intelligently offloaded to the supporting Kinghorn. In a foot-race to the line, the Edinburgh youngster was eventually dragged down by Steffan Evans only a few feet short, but at least we had been given a glimpse of what the Edinburgh backline might be capable if they can find some confidence and demonstrated some composure at key moments.