Pre-season friendly: Edinburgh 14-10 Newcastle Falcons

Meanwhile, in Wales, Glasgow Warriors defeated The Dragons 40-23

Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

DAVID BARNES @ The Greenyards

AFTER a near miss against Sale Sharks last weekend, Edinburgh were able to generate some momentum to propel them into the start of league action against Cardiff Blues next Friday with this hard-fought but well-deserved victory.

They lost the try-count 2-1, but held their nerve after a shaky third quarter to sneak home. It wasn’t a masterclass display, and they will have to play much better if they are to have any chance of improving on their dismal record of just six wins last season, but head coach Richard Cockerill has said from day one that he is not expecting an overnight revolution.

“It was a better performance than last week and we probably deserved to win, so I’m delighted as one thing this team has been very good at is throwing away a lead. It’s nice to have the reward for the hard work the lads put in,” he said.

“But it’s a pre-season game so it’s a step on the way. We won’t be celebrating too much. We played a bit better. The challenge to the players was to match the intensity of last week and I thought they did that. Newcastle are a good side. We stayed in the battle and defended for our lives,” he added,

A head knock suffered midway through the first half by Darryl Marfo, a Scottish qualified summer recruit from Bath, prompted a return to Edinburgh action for Ryan Grant – eight seasons after his switch away from the club to Glasgow Warriors prompted an elevation in status which reached its pinnacle with a call-up to the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2013.

His career appeared to unravel soon after that and he ended up without a club after being released by Worcester Warriors at the end of last season. He has been back training with Edinburgh in recent weeks in the hope of earning a contract, and head coach Richard Cockerill will have noted that his team’s previously creaking scrum did pick up a penalty before Marfo returned to the fray during the break – although whether that is enough to earn a permanent deal remains to be seen.

Edinburgh finished the half  6-0 ahead, but it could have been so much better for the home team. Duncan Weir had knocked on in the process of grounding the ball after slaloming over the line in the 15th minute, and Jamie Ritchie was held up in the scoring zone in the last action before the break.

It looked as if that profligacy was going to be punished after ten minutes of the second half, when full-back Simon Hemmersley squeezed over on the corner after a sustained period of visiting pressure. Toby Flood failed with the tricky conversion but it was now a one-point game.

But Cockerill started to clear his bench and it had the desired effect with replacement stand-off Jason Tovey drilling home a 30-yard penalty after a scrappy ruck in the middle of the park. The Welshmen was in the thick of it again a few moments later when his delicately weighted chip caught the Newcastle defence flat-footed, but Junior Rasolea couldn’t quite gather with the line at his mercy.

Edinburgh kept the pressure on and they got their reward when a long flat pass from Sam Hidalho-Clyne found Jason Harries, a Welshmen signed from London Scottish, unmarked for an easy run-in on the left.

A late try for Santiago Socino from a line-out drive edged the visitors back to within striking distance, but Edinburgh managed to keep their opponents hemmed in during the final few minutes to secure the win.

“It was a good experience for guys like Luke Crosbie, Callum Hunter-Hill and Ally Miller to come on with ten minutes to go when we’re trying to see out the game. And Darcy Graham had a good crack again. So, I’ll be saying the same thing to the guys this week as I said last week – and it will be the same in twenty weeks time: we’ve just got to keep working hard and recognise where we’re at,” surmised Cockerill.

“The only thought now is to get ourselves prepared right for Cardiff and put our best team out and see where it gets us. We could go to Cardiff and get our arses smacked but we’ll work our hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“The key thing is to keep our feet on the ground. We’ve done absolutely nothing to this point. But we’re working hard at training and we’ve got a group of guys who are buying into what we are trying to do, and the challenge for them now is to do it for 30-odd weeks and not just the odd week every six.”

  • Meanwhile, in Ebbw Vale, Glasgow Warriors defeated The Dragons 23-40, with Rory Hughes, Ruaridh Jackson, Nick Grigg, Scott Cummings, Sam Johnson and Paddy Kelly grabbing the tries.

Teams –

Edinburgh: G Bryce; D Graham, C Dean, J Rasolea, D Fife; D Weir, N Fowles; D Marfo, S McInally, S Berghan, A Bresler, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, J Hardie, M Bradbury.

Subs used: R Grant, F McKenzie, S Hidalgo-Clyne, J Johnstone, C du Preez, N Cochrane, K Bryce, J Tovey, T Brown, J Harries, C Hunter-Hill, L Crosbie, A Miller.

Newcastle: S Hammersley; B Agulla, C Harris, J Pablo Socini, S Sinoti; T Flood, S Takulua; R Vickers, K Cooper, J Welsh, W Witty, G Young, M Wilson, W Welch, N Latu.

Subs used: S Lawson, S Socino, S Mavinga, C Green, C Chick, S Stuart. J Hodgson, A Tait, T Davison, A Hogg, B Agulla, J Matavesi.

Referee: Mike Adamson

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Try: Harries; Pens: Weir 2, Tovey.

Newcastle: Try: Hammersley, Socino.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first):  3-0; 6-0 (h-t) 6-5; 9-5; 14-5; 14-10.

About David Barnes 4026 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.