URC: Ewan Ashman debut score gives Edinburgh win over Lions

Home team hold on for narrow victory against the dogged South African side to make it two wins from two in the URC

Ewan Ashman
Ewan Ashman scores on his Edinburgh debut against the Lions. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 17

Lions 16

STUART BATHGATE

@ Hive Stadium

LET’s be honest. If you had seen Edinburgh’s dour home defeat by the Lions last season, you would not have been in a rush to attend this fixture. But if you did decide to return, you would have seen more of the same – with one crucial difference.

Yes, it was dour again. Yes, creativity was conspicuous by its absence as the match descended into a midfield battle for supremacy.

But no, this time Edinburgh did not come off second best. As they had been against the Dragons a week earlier, they were disjointed at times yet found a way to win. And, while these are early days under senior coach Sean Everitt, the signs are positive: two games played, two games won – games which would very likely have been defeats not so long ago.

As ever, a collective effort was needed to see off the South Africans. But if there was a decisive moment, it came when Ewan Ashman, barely off the bench to make his debut, took  a crash ball inside the Lions 22 and dashed to the line.

When Ben Healy converted the Scotland hooker’s score, Edinburgh were back in front at 17-13 just inside the last quarter. The Lions were able to narrow that gap through a penalty from Jordan Hendrikse, but they could not come any closer. If they had found touch with a penalty seconds from time, they would have had a gilt-edged chance to snatch the winner, but instead Edinburgh were able to gather then kick dead to end the contest.

I thought he was very good in the loose and the breakdown and defended well – and scored a great try for us to win the game,” Everitt said of Ashman. “He is a hard worker and known for his set piece. 

“He has quietly gone about his job this week. We gave him an extra week off and that probably put more pressure on him – but to score a match-winning try was great and we are delighted to have him. He is a great rugby player and a good person.”

The home team took the lead just a minute after Lions winger Edwill van der Merwe was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. Luke Crosbie finished off from a lineout maul before Healy converted to make it 7-0.

The Lions fought back late in the half, gradually getting the upper hand at the breakdown and the set scrum, and two penalties from Hendrikse reduced the gap to 7-6 at half-time. A Healy penalty two minutes into the second half made it 10-6, but after home winger Ross McCann was yellow-carded for a high tackle, Lions No 8 Francke Horn scored off the back of a lineout.

Hendrikse converted to put his team three in front – and that lead looked ominous for a few minutes until Ashman’s timely intervention. “They’re a team that never goes away – they pride themselves on the set-piece battle and that’s where we struggled tonight,” Everitt added. “You need to have a good set piece to get a good win and that’s what we need to work on. 

“I’m obviously happy with the result as last season these results went the other way and that’s a big positive for us. We’ll take the win and the guys showed lots of character out of there.” 

Scorers – 

Edinburgh: Tries: Crosbie, Ashman. Cons: Healy 2. Pen: Healy.

Lions: Try: F Horn. Con: Hendrikse. Pens: Hendrikse 3.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 7-6 half-time, 10-6, 10-11, 10-13, 15-13, 17-13, 17-16.

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; R McCann, M Bennett ( C Dean 70), M Currie (C Dean 51-58), W Goosen; B Healy, B Vellacott (captain, C Shiel 65); B Venter (R Hislop 54), D Cherry (E Ashman 54), J Sebastian (W Nel 48), G Young (M Sykes 50), G Gilchrist, L Crosbie, H Watson (C Boyle 75), V Mata.

Lions: Q Horn; R Kriel, H van Wyk, M Louw (captain), E van der Merwe (A Coetzee 57); J Hendrikse, S Nohamba (M van den Berg 68); C Fourie (M Naude 52), P Botha (J Visagie 52), R Dreyer (A Ntlabakanye 52), R Schoeman (W Alberts 68), D Landsberg, E Tshituka, R Venter (H Sirgel 68), F Horn.

Yellow cards: Lions: Van der Merwe 13. Edinburgh: McCann 59.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland).

Attendance: 5,408.

About Stuart Bathgate 1363 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.

6 Comments

  1. Next batch of 5 games may well define our season, and it looks really tough.

    Leinster, Connacht, Bulls, Bennetton then Ulster !!!! At least the middle 3 are at home.

    Expect we’ll need most of the 11 (!) injured players back to have a shot. But I am hopeful ,,👍

  2. Only saw the first half during which we could, perhaps should, have had another couple of tries that mayhave killed the game by half time. The coach called out last week, a lack of finishing when we get in the opponent’s 22. Still work to do.
    That said, it was another game that could might, last year, have been lost. The record says a win for now, that will do.
    Tougher test expected this week. Let’s hope for a continuing improvement.

  3. Was I at a different match?

    I left the stadium feeling thoroughly entertained, most unlike last season’s encounter.

    We created plenty of chances in the first half, butchering two and another two that Darcy and Duhan respectively would possibly have finished. The game was far less open in the 2nd half but we showed some great resilience to see out the win.

    Well done to the lads. Lots of room for improvement but building a good platform on which to do it.

  4. Missed Graham and VDM to finish off the (several) clean breaks made.
    Goosen, Watson and Crosbie played well, Ashman is excellent in the loose but struggles with his throwing in the line out.
    Healy is quality
    Still 2 wins out of 2 cannot be sniffed at.

  5. Lions are a tough side to beat so always good to get a win against them. I though we played well in the first half and could have had another 2 or 3 tries if we’d finished some good line breaks. We seemed to get turned over in the wide channels after making these breaks by some aggressive defence by their backs. In the 2nd half we defended really well to stay in the game and with less of the ball than the Lions overall it was a good win. I think we lost 4 line outs which never helps. I thought Watson was back to his best and Mata still going strong after his RWC exploits.

    We only won 6 games last year so 2 from 2 is a good start without playing champagne rugby. Hopefully plenty of upside to come.

  6. Don’t agree with the no cretativity point, we cut the Lions open on 2 or 3 occasions in the first 20 mins and BK had a great break later on. However we didn’t convert these.

    Scrum and Lineout were terrible, esp Lineout, if we can’t fix that we’re in terrible trouble.

    Crosbie seemed back to his best and looked a great game from Mish. Need Duhan and Darcie back !

    In a word, lucky ( to take the points)

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