Cardiff 10, Edinburgh 20: Cockerill makes key changes to ensure victory

Chris Dean is tackled by Rhys Gill and Seb Davies. Dean scored Edinburgh's second try. Pic: Harry Trump/Getty Images
Chris Dean is tackled by Rhys Gill and Seb Davies. Dean scored Edinburgh's second try. Pic: Harry Trump/Getty Images
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Edinburgh’s new head coach, Richard Cockerill, saw his side make a winning start to their Pro14 campaign at the Arms Park.

It was their first win in Cardiff for five seasons and the former Leicester and Toulon boss can take a huge amount from a spirited and totally committed opening performance.

Admittedly, they had to defend for large periods of the match, especially in the first half when the Blues dominated the ball. However, having conceded only one try during that difficult stage of the game, they took control of the encounter in the latter period of the second half with a decisive try from Chris Dean.

Cockerill said; “I am pleased with the result for this group of players. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.

“This game, the bullets were for real, some we coped with and some we didn’t. But I think that performance represents what Edinburgh rugby is all about.

“It was tough in the first half, but we have been to some darker places than that in our pre-season.

“I thought we battled well because they are a very good side. And to come down here and win is a great start.

“I’m also pleased because we found a way to win and we probably wouldn’t have done so last season.

“We’re on step one of 21 games and we will enjoy the win. But we need to back it up. Last season we won a big game away and then lost to Zebre at home”.

Try scorer Blair Kinghorn, said: “It’s been tough in pre-season with everyone working hard. Our defence fronted up tonight and it was a big squad effort.”

There were times when Edinburgh’s depleted front row struggled in the set scrum. Still, Magnus Bradbury and John Hardie led the way up front, which allowed Duncan Weir and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to put in polished performances at half-back with Kinghorn the star performer on the night.

A couple of early errors from Edinburgh gave their hosts a platform in the visitors’ 22. However, Cardiff conceded two needless penalties which enabled Weir to kick his side away from danger.

As a result Edinburgh had their first period of pressure with Hidalgo-Clyne and new skipper, Bradbury, testing the home defence with some good ball retention before they took an 11th-minute lead.

From a 22 metre scrum, Bradbury fed Hidalgo-Clyne, whose pass sent Kinghorn through a gap and over the line with real purpose. Although television replays appeared to indicate that the scrum-half’s scoring pass was forward, the try stood with Weir knocking over an excellent conversion.

A handling error from Dean resulted in another period of sustained pressure for the hosts. Thankfully, Weir got back to save the day when Matthew Morgan chased his own kick ahead but the respite was only temporary as Cardiff battered the defence with Alex Cuthbert and Ray Lee-Lo testing it to the full.

Edinburgh breathed a huge sigh of relief when a knock-on and a scrum penalty in their favour saw them lift the siege and then, against the run of play, they extended their lead when Weir was on target with a 40 metre shot at goal.

The visitors appeared reluctant to use their three-quarters, preferring to test home full-back Morgan with a series of some well-judged up-and-unders from Weir and Hidalgo-Clyne.

However, the greater enterprise of the Welsh side eventually paid dividends when a neat kick from Jarrod Evans saw Josh Navidi collect and crash over with the outside half’s conversion leaving Edinburgh 10-7 ahead at the interval.

Blues lost influential No.8, Nick Williams, at half-time as he failed a head injury assessment but it didn’t prevent the home side from starting the second half strongly.

The Edinburgh scrum conceded two penalties in quick succession which allowed Evans to bring the scores level with a simple penalty before Cockerill responded by changing the whole of his front row.

Weir restored Edinburgh’s lead with his second penalty and then a well-taken try from Dean gave Edinburgh a crucial score. The centre finished off an excellent move with Kinghorn making the telling burst to provide the final pass.

The score proved enough for Edinburgh as Blues lacked the creativity to break down the stubborn defence with the Scots comfortably holding their opponents at bay in the final quarter to come away with a notable victory.

Scorers: Cardiff: Tries: Navidi; Con: Evans; Pens Evans

Edinburgh: Tries: Kinghorn, Dean; Cons: Weir (2); Pens: Weir (2)

Cardiff Blues: M Morgan; A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, A Summerhill (T James 54); J Evans (S Shingler 54), L Williams (T Williams 62); R Gill (C Domachowski 62), M Rees (Capt) (K Myhill 62), T Filise (K Assiratti 62), S Davies, D Welch (S Bennett 77), J Turnbull, N Williams (M Cook 38), J Navidi

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Fife (G Bryce 40), C Dean, J Rasolea, J Harries; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; D Marfo (M Rizzo 47), S McInally (R Ford 47), WP Nel (S Berghan 47), G Gilchrist, A Bresler (B Toolis 54), J Ritchie, M Bradbury (Capt) (C Du-Preez 68), J Hardie

Referee: G.Clancy (Ireland)

Attendance: 6145