Edinburgh recorded their 3rd win of the Guinness Pro12 season with a defensively astute performance against Cardiff Blues. Alan Solomon’s side scored three tries and dominated much of the encounter to take a 28-13 victory.
Solomons praised the character of the team and in particular the defensive systems brought in by the coaching staff. “Our systems are well embedded in the side and we have got to make sure that they are followed”.
“The way we defended on our line, when we were a man down, I thought was tremendous”, Solomons said.
After an early yellow card for Cardiff’s Jarrad Hoeata, Edinburgh looked to pressurise their Welsh counterparts. A probing kick from fly-half Tom Heathcote left Gareth Anscombe nowhere to go and the oncoming attack bundled the full back into touch.
The resulting lineout produced the opening score as the Edinburgh forwards mauled their way to within inches of the try line. Several phases came and went before Andries Strauss utilised the overlap to cross the line for the first try of the match. Heathcote, steady with the boot all day, converted to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
Returning from a prolonged injury lay-off, Matt Scott was impressive in the opening 15 minutes. The centre made a telling break after a quarter of an hour as Edinburgh started to make inroads. Cardiff conceded a penalty shortly after another half break from Scott and Heathcote added another three points to the home side’s advantage.
Edinburgh very nearly conceded a try immediately after the restart as a kick through from Evans was fumbled on the line. Gareth Davies had a chance to negate Heathcote’s penalty with an attempt after 18 minutes but hit the post; Edinburgh breathed a sigh of relief as they cleared.
Edinburgh’s defence was resolute throughout the opening 40 minutes. It was pushed to desperate levels after the half hour mark when waves of Cardiff attack almost resulted in a try for the visitors. Lock forward Chris Dicomidis was held up short by Willem Nel and Cardiff were unlucky not to get the try.
Cardiff’s indiscipline was proving costly and they were down to 14 men for the second time in 35 minutes as flanker Ellis Jenkins was shown a yellow card. Davies did however end the Welsh rot with a second penalty of the half to reduce the gap to 16-6.
It remained a ten point match as the half-time whistle went but Edinburgh had a late scare in the final play. Gareth Anscombe’s deft chip into space was covered only by scrambling home defence.
Edinburgh’s second try came after 43 minutes when winger Dougie Fife snuck in at the corner.
Several phases of bulldozing runs by the forwards penetrated the Cardiff defensive line before Scrum-half Hidalgo-Clyne threw a weighted pass to Fife who strolled in. Heathcote again successful with the conversion increased the lead to 23-6.
Edinburgh ran with such intensity and pace in the second period that they were almost proving too much for Cardiff. A dainty kick through by Heathcote forced a 5 metre scrum which the hosts’ were able to exploit.
From the scrum, Edinburgh had quick ball and nearly got over the line for Fife’s second. Having being hauled up short, Heathcote then floated a perfect miss pass to Tom Brown who raced in for the third try. With the missed conversion from Heathcote, Edinburgh now looked comfortable in front 28-6.
Cardiff almost struck back out of apparently nowhere after 60 minutes. Dicomidis got to within inches of the line before dropping the ball over the whitewash.
Starved of possession and territory in the first half, Cardiff were a much more settled side in the second. A dominating pack launched several driving mauls early on but inaccuracies and staunch Edinburgh defence meant that Cardiff would not challenge end result.
Down to 13-men after yellow cards for Roddy Grant and Tom Heathcote, Edinburgh’s defence finally cracked as Adam Thomas broke through to grab a late try for the visitors, with Davies converting. It would not be enough to get back into the match and Edinburgh nervously closed out a 28-13 victory.