URC: Edinburgh v Benetton: triumph turns to disaster in Blair Kinghorn’s last home game

Toulouse-bound full-back scored two first half tries but his late blunder cost capital side victory

Blair Kinghorn scored two tries but played a leading role in gifting Benetton their match-winning late score. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Blair Kinghorn scored two tries but played a leading role in gifting Benetton their match-winning late score. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 22

Benetton 24

DAVID BARNES @ The Hive Stadium,

THERE’S been a bit of chat this week about Edinburgh developing the happy knack of winning games this season they would almost certainly have previously lost. This match turned that trend on its head, with the Scottish capital outfit coughing up three soft tries to blow a commanding 12 point lead midway through the first half, and then a five point lead with just over 10 minutes left, to lose a game they really ought to be winning if they want to be serious play-off contenders. 

It looked like it was going to be a triumphant send-off for Blair Kinghorn in his last home game before joining Toulouse at the start of December when he scored two tries before the break, but it ended in ignominy for the 26-year-old after he played a lead role in the calamitous sequence of events which led to Benetton’s late match-winning try, popping the ball off the deck to nobody just yards from his own line, which allowed Marco Zanon to pounce for that decisive score.

“The result is obviously disappointing,” conceded Edinburgh ‘senior’ coach Sean Everitt afterwards. “The team are hurting right now in the changing room. We beat ourselves this evening with soft moments in the game.


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“You can’t knock the effort the team put in tonight, and from a discipline point of view we were okay at half-time having given away four penalties and four turnovers, but at the start of the second half we gave away two penalties in a row which led to their second try, then obviously there was the soft moment late in the game which we couldn’t get back from when we lost our line-out five-metres out when we could have put them to bed and they ended up scoring 100 yards down the  field on the return play. So, that’s really disappointing for the boys.

“Maybe we could have finished the game off a little better than we did by trying to go for a 40-metre drop-goal, but at the end of the day the players make the decisions and they were confident enough to go for it, so I am happy with that decision at the end.”

Kinghorn put his hand up afterwards to take his share of the responsibility for that late score. “Looking back on it, the offload was too risky and it was a bad decision that cost us seven points and the game. It wasn’t how I wanted it to end,” he said.

However, Everitt refused to single-out the Toulouse-bound full-back for blame. “Blair did extremely well under the high ball and had a good game tonight,” he insisted. “We can’t fault him for one mistake because then we have to fault everyone. We’ll all take this on the chin as a team and coaching staff, and move on.

“I’m disappointed and at the same time angry because the things that let us down tonight are the same things that we’ve spoken about,” he added. “We put ourselves into a position to lose this game – they didn’t dominate and win it, we lost it.”

Edinburgh threatened early with Duhan van der Merwe coming off his wing to help clear up some scrappy line-out possession and bouncing through two tackles, but he collided with the right post as he tumbled towards the line and the ball squirted loose without being grounded.

It was only a temporary reprieve for Benetton, however, because they had conceded a penalty earlier in the move which was kicked to the corner, and once the home forwards had driven the maul, possession was sent right and a nice tip-on by James Lang created the space for Ben Healy to send Kinghorn home with an excellent flat pass.

Edinburgh came close to striking again when Lang chased down his own kick ahead and pounced on the loose ball after Rhyno Smith made a meal of tidying up possession, however after discussion with the TMO, South African referee Aimee Barrett-Theron ruled that the ball was grounded in touch.

Again, Edinburgh kept their foot on the gas to score just a few minutes after that disallowed effort, with a Healy cross-kick sending the unmarked Matt Currie over on the left.

It was then Benetton’s turn to have a try chalked off by the TMO, who decided that Malakai Fekitoa hadn’t managed to get the ball down after a powerful surge for the line, and this was perhaps the most contentious of the three early disallowed scores. Like Edinburgh had done after their near misses, the visitors kept the pressure on and it required a last gasp interception from Ewan Ashman – on after only five minutes for the injured Dave Cherry to derail a sweeping attack on the left spearheaded by Michele Lamaro.

It was beginning of get silly when Currie then had what would have been his second try chalked off following yet another intervention from the TMO … who highlighted a marginally forward pass from Kinghorn to Wes Goosen a full three phases and six passes before the (disallowed) score.

It would have been an absolute travesty if Benetton’s opening try on 31 minutes had been referred to the eagle-eyed TMO (Marius van der Westhuizen from South Africa), because Igncacio Mendy did brilliantly to run it all the way home from 90-yards after he and Andy Uren pick-pocketed Goosen in contact right under the shadow of their own posts.

Jacob Umaga slotted the conversion and then added a penalty awarded against Ashman for being slow to get out of the way after a tackle which prevented a quick recycle.

That made it 12-10 to the hosts with five minutes to go until the break, before Edinburgh finished the half with a flourish when Healy switched back down the short side, van der Merwe burst the line and Goosen provided the link to send Kinghorn streaking home for his second.

 

Benetton took advantage of Edinburgh’s slow start to the second period to pull it back to a two point game within three minutes of the restart, with two penalties conceded by the hosts providing the field position for Zanon to crash through three tackles and over the line, and Umaga once again converted.

Benetton dominated possession and territory for the next 10 minutes without really looking like they were going to score, while Edinburgh wasted little time in collecting three points when they finally got out of their half,  with Healy kicking a penalty after replacement prop Mirco Spagnolo was sin-binned just 15 seconds after coming off the bench for collapsing a maul.

But the home side failed to kick on from there and despite being a man down, Benetton had a chance to close the gap back to two points when Ashman was again penalised to lying on the wrong side, but this time Umaga pulled his long-range effort to the left of the posts.

Then, with five minutes to go, disaster struck when Edinburgh sent a kickable penalty to the corner but lost the line-out five yards from Benetton’s line and ended up retreating all the way back to their own line through a calamitous series of increasingly careless blunders, which reached a farcical crescendo when Kinghorn popped a loose ball off the deck to nobody and Zanon pounced to score the try which put the Italians ahead for the first time in the match.

After Benetton were again reduced to 14 men for the final three minutes through the red-carding of second-row Eli Snyman for head-on-head contact with van der Merwe, Edinburgh roused themselves for a late push for glory, working their way into the strike zone then opting to drop Healy into the pocket, but his drop-goal effort from 40-yards out sailed harmlessly to the right of the posts.

 

Teams –

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; W Goosen, M Currie, J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Healy, A Price ( B Vellacott 54); P Schoeman (B Venter 62), D Cherry (E Ashman 7), W Nel (A Williams 68), G Young (M Sykes 64), G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, C Boyle, L Crosbie (T Dodd 15-25, 73).

Benetton: R Smith (S Hidalgo-Clyne 77); P Odogwu, M Fekitoa, M Zanon (G Da Re 73), I Mendy; J Umaga, A Uren; T Gallo (M Spagnolo 52), G Nicotera (B Bernasconi 41), G Zilocchi (T Pasquali 66), E Iachizzi (R Favretto, 62), E Snyman, A Izekor, M Lamaro (H Time-Stowers 77), L Cannone (T Halafihi 41)

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (SARU)

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Kinghorn 2, Currie; Con: Healy 2; Pen: Healy.

Benetton: Tries: Mendy, Zanon 2; Con: Umaga 3; Pen: Umaga.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 12-5; 12-7; 12-10; 17-10; 19-10 (h-t) 19-15; 19-17; 22-17; 22-22; 22-24.

 

Yellow cards –

Benetton: Spagnolo (53 mins)

Red cards –

Benetton: Snyman (77 mins)

 

Attendance: 6,527


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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.

27 Comments

  1. Be an interesting game vs Ulster next week, they took some battering from a great Glasgow performance.

    Most pleasing thing for me was listening to their coach at the end, pathetic I thought.

    Let’s hope we can get it right next week

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  2. Yeez that was a tough watch… too right they’d better be in there kicking themselves unbelievable game management 😢 Benetton must be sitting in their dressing room looking at each other and asking who won us that game…. The answer would be hard to find. A victory nailed on thrown away in amazing style… the only thing I’d say is might aswell make Richie captain… if he can’t keep his mouth closed when not captain… the ref seemed to me to turn against us after her set-to with him ( basic stuff- keep the ref onside at all times !)… we still should of won that easily… best scrum by far and easily the best maul, but seemed to forget that in our bravado to score a magnificent try, get in front… stay in front… and as soon as the drop kick was coming, I said no … it never works twice in a row, the rugby gods don’t work that way. All in all a desperate result tonight 😢

  3. I’ll have to rewatch the match, must have seen it different too you guys ….

    What I saw was a good performance under a lot of pressure from a good Bennetton side ..

    A couple of very near misses , again caused by some good defense and a couple of well taken fluke opportunities…

    I also feel like a bit of a broken record … Was that ref very anti us, I thought there were a couple of very clear jackles that weren’t given..etc …

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  4. Furthermore…. as good and effective Ashman is in the loose he is also not to be trusted in line out duties.
    I like the look of Patrick Harrison but he may have to leave Edinburgh to get gametime

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    • is that not the norm for Scottish International hookers in the professional era and the go to blueprint of a player for GT. Turner, Fagerson Snr, Cummings, Walker et al. Ability to play in the loose is given a higher priority than players who can do the basics of their role well first.

  5. Only the players will know how they lost this one. A very black week for the club and a backward step in recent progress.

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  6. I said after the Connacht v Glasgow game that the 2nd half was the worst 40 minutes of rugby I had seen from a Scottish team in a long time. Sadly, I didn’t have much longer to wait to see even that topped.

    BK had a pretty good game last night. He had to try that offload, he was on the ground, isolated and about to be engulfed by chasers. He got it wrong but let’s not forget the dumb mistakes that put him in that awful predicament in the first place; a botched lineout and then Duhan’s comical attempt at fielding a clearance; straight out of a Buster Keaton movie.

    We felt the team were going wide too quickly most of the time. Duhan never had any space to work with. Healy had a poor game; his passing was deliberate and kicking less assured than usual but he didn’t hide and stepped up to try and win the game at the end; says something about him.

    As a BTW, and I am in no way blaming her for the result, but that referee was completely out of her depth. I have never seen a referee stand so far away from the breakdown in my life. How on earth can you possibly see what is going on when you stand 10 and more yards away from the ruck?

    And, is it just me, or are we seeing an increase in the amount of stand-up tackling? I think we could have seen a card in just about every phase of play last night. I’m getting really fed up with it and that sickening tackle on Duhan at the end was the almost inevitable result.

    Someone is going to be maimed for life (or worse) sooner or later. The way this is officiated is all wrong – effectively it is down to luck whether a tackle is punished or not. So, until we punish the cause; i.e. tackling with no attempt to bend at the hips as a matter of course, this will never be sorted.

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  7. If you have the chance to kick three points to go eight ahead with only ten minutes to go then you absolutely, unquestionably, always must do so – then the opposition will be forced to chace the game and space will open, allowing you to focus on getting the try bonus point.

    The complete lack of leadership and pea-brained decision-making, compounded by ridiculous errors, was just beyond belief.

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  8. An insane number of useless box kicks – even more from Velacott. Chances thrown away with gay abandon. Defence poor, Kinghorn was generally very good under the high ball with one disaster – we all make mistakes.. VDM was very poor under the high ball
    They had the dominant tackles Edinburgh made countless mistakes. In short a game that should have been won easily was thrown away. Can’t remember when I last saw edinburgh make so many mistakes.

    • VDM is a physical specimen but his basic rugby skills, positional and general rugby awareness for an internationalist and dare I say it a British Lion are shockingly bad. His repeated running directly across the pitch looking for space is very disappointing to see as we were always coached to never run across the pitch as you are actually shutting down space and its so much easier to defend.

      • Agreed re lateral running, unless your name is Penaud, you shouldn’t be running across the pitch.

  9. Poor game management…. current Scotland 9 and some want this aherm 10 to replace Finn….would have either within a million miles of 6n squad but with GT and the never learn from previous disasters attitude one will start and one will probably be on the bench. I’m guessing optimistically for 5th this season. Think we will just about edge Italy…..just.

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  10. A game that should’ve been won by 15 was quite infuriatingly thrown away, when in the lead should’ve nailed any point on offers and Healy put the ball in the 22.
    Alas just after wishing BK all the very best (and meaning it) last night encapsulated him, thrilling runner but not to be trusted, try costing errors In successive games.
    Bennetton are a well coached stuffy team but as Glasgow showed last week good teams should be beating them.
    Very disappointed

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  11. Like everyone else, I can’t believe the comedy of errors that enfolded, but that’s what happens when you fail to take advantage when you’re on the front foot. Congratulations to Bennetton, yes, they got lucky, but, they stayed in the game even when under pressure. They’re game management, when down to 14, was exemplary, and I can only congratulate them. Edinburgh squandered so many chances, but as the saying goes, “if you don’t make it count, when you’re on top, it’ll come back to bite you. I can only shake my head, and hope for better next week.

  12. I am going to enjoy watching Kinghorn in the T14. It will either be the breaking or making of him as an international quality fullback. French teams will eat him for breakfast if he continues to defend like an idiot. Sadly, it’s not the first instance of this type of lunacy, the question is will it be the last?

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    • Makes you wonder if his new coaches know anything about rugby doesn’t it? After all what have Toulouse ever achieved?

      Oh wait a minute ….

  13. Almost unbelievable. An absolute shocker. It reminded me of the worst days of the Scotland team, butchering tries with abandon and falling apart to snatch defeats from halfway down the throats of victory. Cardiff 2010 springs to mind. And if anyone thought it wasn’t possible to score an own-try in rugby, we pretty much saw that tonight… an end to end self-destructive panicked affair with a rich selection of every type of calamity. How? How?!?

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  14. Wow indeed! A game the Burgh should have won by at least two clear tries turned into a mess in the second half. Where does one actually start in this critique? There were so many inaccuracies in the second half in particular that a statistician would have lost count. The coaching staff has a lot to work on this week; when to kick and when not to kick? Where to kick to when you do decide to kick? When to hang onto the ball and when to get rid of it? But the biggest thing is to try to install some grunt in this team. This was a major setback!

  15. Really really poor game management. Kickable penalty to go two scores ahead but go to the corner. Kick that and game was won in my opinion

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  16. Professional rugby in Scotland yet again shows it’s a farce. We’re not even close these days. Stop making excuses and get people in to make the game better in this country and not just cheap yes men options to assist the big wigs!!

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  17. That was comical in the extreme. How can professional players be so unprofessional. Offensive to amateurism. I’m shocked, so many chances and opportunities, all butchered. Wow.

    • Its a pure moment to learn. It was going to happen at some point – you just cant keep getting away with sneaking games. Though sadly it was Blair’s last home game. The proof will be in the pudding as the games go along and changes in how to manage games get better. Not just better and games are lost but games get better where the true grit in a team is performed which this Edinburgh team have the making of.

  18. Wow, not seen such a comical display since the last episode of I’m a celebrity… Benetton just had to hang around and wait for the self-destruct button to be pushed. A lot of work to do before next week and might we have to start resting a few players soon as they have to be rotated.

    PS If the answer is: Out of their depth. What was the question?

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