Edinburgh produced their first win of the Guinness Pro12 tonight with a solid if unspectacular 20-9 victory over a poor Scarlets side.
First-half tries by wing Mike Allen and No. 8 Magnus Bradbury, allied to the trusty boot of Scotland stand-off Duncan Weir, proved enough to see Alan Solomons’ men bounce back from last weekend’s opening defeat at Cardiff.
The home coach paid tribute to man-of-the-match Weir and said: “I thought he had a superb game. The way he played the conditions was absolutely vital. The players said it was very difficult conditions – wet and a tricky wind as well. I thought Duncy was outstanding. He ran the game well, his decision making was good and his kicking was excellent.
“Overall I’m very happy. The big thing for us is that in the opening matches our defence has been sub-standard. There was a bit of an improvement against Cardiff bit it wasn’t good enough and we made a big issue of it. The boys did really well.
“Our ability to play the conditions allied to an improved defence won us that match. We showed a tremendous amount of character at the end of the game in keeping them out.
“On balance I thought we deserved to win the game and the scoreline was a fair reflection on the night’s rugby.”
On an autumnally wet and blowy night in the Capital, in front of a disappointing crowd of 2650, it was the Scarlets who made the early running, winning three penalties in the Edinburgh half in the first 12 minutes.
Rhys Patchell missed a kick at goal with the first, while the next was kicked to the corner and led to nothing, before the Scarlets stand-off landed with his second attempt to open the scoring.
Eight minutes later it was all square as the Welsh visitors transgressed and Weir slotted the equalising penalty in off the post.
Home tails were up and a series of drives at the Scarlets line drew out increasingly tetchy defending which was ultimately punished for a no-armed tackle by Irish referee Andrew Brace and Weir made no mistake to nudge his side in front after 26 minutes.
However, two minutes later, skipper Grant Gilchrist’s failure to release in the tackle 35 metres from his own posts, allowed Patchell to slot home and even things up.
The match was ambling its way sleepily towards the break when Edinburgh conjured the evening’s first try out of nothing in the 34th minute when Weir’s speculative kick into the right-hand corner drew a shocking misjudgment by Scarlets’ star full-back Liam Williams. The 35-times capped Welsh internationalist mistimed his covering dive and completely missed the ball, allowing Edinburgh wing Allen the easiest of touchdowns, which Weir brilliantly converted from out wide to open up a seven-point gap.
Scarlets’ upcoming half-time break went from uncomfortable to miserable when lock Jake Ball was yellow-carded for collapsing the maul and another try followed soon after. Patchell made an almighty mess of clearing the ball in his own 22 and, after it ricocheted off an Edinburgh knee it fell into the arms of Bradbury who scampered over, Weir converting, to produce a 20-6 lead at the interval which had seemed unlikely just a few minutes earlier.
The second half was barely under way, however, when Edinburgh’s hopes of pushing on took a hit when try hero Bradbury was sin-binned for a tip tackle.
Scarlets could only take three points from their period of numerical advantage, a penalty stroked over by Patchell in the 53rd minute. Weir was then wide with a long-range effort and Edinburgh set about protecting the lead and seeing the game home.
Scarlets became increasingly desperate and coughed up possession in their own 22 which led to Edinburgh getting a sniff of a third try and possible pathway to a bonus point. However, a penalty was conceded and Scarlets booted long, forcing an error out of Allen who tapped into touch close to his own line.
Scarlets pushed hard for a losing bonus but Allen made amends for his slip with a mighty tackle on opposite number Steff Evans. It was adjudged to be high and Scarlets won a penalty and another chance to attack the hosts’ line but it held firm..
SCORERS: Edinburgh: Tries: Allen, Bradbury. Cons: Weir (2). Pens: Weir (2)
Scarlets: Penss: Patchell (3)
EDINBURGH: G Bryce; M Allen, S Tofilau, P Burleigh, T Brown; D Weir, N Fowles; R Sutherland, R Ford, WP Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, J Hardie, M Bradbury. Subs: S McInally, A Dell, K Bryce, F McKenzie, H Watson, S Hidalgo-Clyne, B Kinghorn, S Rasolea.
SCARLETS: L Williams; H Parkes, J Davies, S Williams, S Evans; R Patchell, A Davies; W Jones, K Owens, W Kruger, J Ball, D Bulbring, A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay. Subs: R Elias, L Garrett, P Edwards, T Beirne, J Macleod, G Davies, D Jones, A Thomas.
Referee: A Brace (Ireland)