Edinburgh Rugby benefit from Meggetland switch

Grayson Hart, right, celebrates with team-mate Jack Cuthbert after scoring his side's third try of the game
Grayson Hart, right, celebrates with team-mate Jack Cuthbert after scoring his side's third try of the game
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A change of scenery proved the perfect pick-me-up for Edinburgh Rugby as they marked a move from Murrayfield to the compact Meggetland with a 31-25 victory over Ospreys in the RaboDirect Pro12 League.

It was the first time Edinburgh had played a home competitive match outwith headquarters in a decade, but the nematodes (pitch parasites) which had made their traditional base unplayable might well have done the team a favour.

The Boroughmuir club ground buzzed with anticipation beforehand and continued in that vein all the way through as the 3000 crowd warmed to the sense of occasion generated in part by first-half tries from Grayson Hart (2) and Sam Beard.

The win takes Edinburgh up to seventh and also provides revenge for their heaviest defeat of the season in the earlier fixture in South Wales.

Jack Cuthbert and man-of-the-match Izak van der Westhuizen also put in splendid shifts.

Edinburgh did, however, take a while to settle and were rocked in the sixth minute when Ospreys attacked up the left before superb handling with Richard Fussell up in the line saw Justin Tipuric neatly offload a scoring pass to Jeff Hassler.

The response was impressive, however, as the Capital pack drove a maul fully 25 metres into the Ospreys “22” and the ball popped back for Hart, whose arcing run took him in behind the posts for his second league try in four outings.

Unlike kicking counterpart Dan Biggar earlier, Carl Bezuidenhout slotted the conversion for a 7-5 lead after 13 minutes.

Soon after Bezuidenhout was on target again with a 40 metre penalty following a scrum offence, but there was two let-offs in quick succession.

First Biggar spilled possession attacking the line, then a visiting throw-in was butchered as the Ospreys eschewed penalty kicks at goal in search of the try option.

Escaping upfield, Edinburgh punished the visitors when Cuthbert fielded a clearance just inside his own half and burst between two defenders before finding Beard on his shoulder and the Kiwi centre squeezed in at the corner after 25 minutes. Bezuidenhout’s conversion bounced back off the post to leave the hosts 15-5 in front. The touchdown celebrated Beard’s first start after five outings off the bench.

It was all going too swimmingly and Edinburgh were given a reality check when Geoff Cross was yellow carded for a ruck offence, Biggar kicking the penalty.

Ironically, it was Ospreys who were to look like the short-handed side as Edinburgh stormed forward. Roddy Grant had a cut from a close range ruck, but it was Hart who spotted the blindside defence absent and had a simple task in dotting down his second try.

Bezuidenhout converted from wide out for a 22-8 lead six minutes out from the interval.

With Cross in the sin-bin, Willem Nel came on but was immediately part of a collapsed scrum, allowing Biggar to cut the deficit to 22-11.

Into the second half and once again Ospreys drew first blood when Biggar landed a penalty after Edinburgh had failed to release in contact. And when Biggar repeated the feat for not rolling away in the tackle, suddenly Ospreys were back within a score at 22-17 adrift.

Nel and Ollie Atkins were introduced for Cross and Van der Westhuizen to try to kick-start Edinburgh. The ploy seemed to work as breathing space was gained with a Bezuidenhout penalty for a ruck offence in 56 minutes.

The substitution of Hart approaching the hour mark was one of the evening’s bigger mysteries and almost immediately newcomer Sean Kennedy was called into action to cover a grubber kick through to in-goal. Alas, winger Hassler got there first for his second try, confirmed by referee Peter Fitzgibbon after consulting the video official. The conversion failed, but Edinburgh were nevertheless living dangerously just three points ahead and it took until the 70th minute to reach the Ospreys “22” after the interval, Cuthbert doing the pioneering work.

Once in attacking territory, a line-out offence gave Bezuidenhout the chance to maintain his splendid kicking record and the South African duly obliged as the hosts entered the home straight 28-22 ahead.

Cuthbert, in particular, looked determined to ensure a run of three defeats came to an end and if a four-try bonus point could accrue, so much the better. It nearly came when a hack upfield was pursued by Dougie Fife, only for Sam Davies to scramble the ball into touch.

Undaunted, Edinburgh stepped up a gear, only for Strauss to be hauled down inches short of the line, but deliberate offside saw Ospreys’ Ashley Beck sin-binned.

From near the touchline, Bezuidenhout gave Edinburgh a cushion with a successful penalty. Still, Ospreys refused to lie down and Biggar’s penalty while Atkins was making his way to the sin-bin kept them in the hunt and guaranteed a losing bonus point.

Scorers:

Edinburgh: Tries: Hart (2), Beard. Conversions: Bezuidenhout (2). Penalties: Bezuidenhout (4).

Ospreys: Tries: Hassler (2). Penalties: Biggar (5).

Edinburgh: Bezuidenhout, Fife, Beard (Dominguez, 57), Strauss (Atiga, 79), Cuthbert, Leonard, Hart (Kennedy, 57), Blaauw (Allan, 74), Ford, Cross (Nel, 54), Gilchrist, Van der Westhuizen (Atkins, 51), Coman (captain), Du Preez, Grant. Subs not used: Hilterbrand, Leonardi, Atiga.

Ospreys: Fussell (Davies, 44), Hassler, Spratt (captain), Beck, Dirkson (Nagoga, 68), Biggar, Tebaldi (Habberfield, 76) D Jones, Baldwin, Suter, Ardron, King (Baker, 55), Lewis, Bearman (R Jones, 55), Tipuric. Subs not used: Dwyer, Thomas, Rees.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

Attendance: 3000