Edinburgh suffer agony as victory is lost at the death

Alan Solomons
Alan Solomons
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Edinburgh were denied an unlikely victory at Parc y Scarlets after an Alex Toolis try had put the visitors 21-19 in front with seven minutes remaining.

Toolis crossed in the corner in the 73rd minute with Greig Tonks adding a touchline conversion to put Edinburgh ahead for the first time in the game.

However, they had their pockets picked when replacement outside half Aled Thomas kicked a penalty three minutes later to help the Scarlets consolidate their lofty position, winning 22-21.

Scarlets came within a whisker of taking the lead inside ten seconds. DTH van der Merwe caught the kick off, but was somehow hauled down half a dozen metres from the line by Tonks. However, the game was less than six minutes old when the hosts got their initial score. A fortuitous ricochet off an Edinburgh player put the Scarlets forwards onside and when the ball was spun left, Morgan Allen brushed off Damien Hoyland for a try that Steven Shingler converted.

Having been stung into action, Edinburgh upped the tempo, with ball in hand, and posed one or two questions of a committed Scarlets’ defence. The hosts, who had all the answers, were helped by Edinburgh’s indiscipline off the ball.

Shingler improved the lead with a penalty in the 18th minute and though Edinburgh were combative, they rarely created any breaks of note. Scrum-half Nathan Fowles did his best to dash and dart around the base in search of a gap, but the Scarlets back row was wise to the danger and continued to dominate.

Finally, as the game entered the second quarter, the home pack forced the Scarlets’ front row to stand up at a scrum on their own 22 and Fowles converted the ensuing penalty.

Their joy, however, was short lived. Although Steven Shingler was forced off with an ankle problem, replacement Aled Thomas popped over a penalty in the 24th minute to restore the Welsh region’s ten point advantage.

Edinburgh’s plight worsened shortly after when Ian Cochrane stayed down after tackling Allen. The hooker received lengthy treatment before being replaced by George Turner.

Tom Brown was far and away Edinburgh’s most potent attacking force and on separate occasions he made significant ground to push Scarlets back. Still, when it mattered most, the visitors lacked the necessary composure to turn their early pressure into points.

Their best two efforts came in the final eight minutes of the first half. First, a slick backs’ movement ended with Brown once again cutting through before the final pass was spilt. Then, after captain Mike Coman was held up short, the ball was turned over with the line at Edinburgh’s mercy. Fowles even struck an upright with a penalty from 25 metres after Scarlets were penalised for hands in a ruck.

The second half started much as the first had finished, with Edinburgh enjoying the lions’ share of possession. This time they did reduce the arrears – Fowles on target with a penalty.

Thomas redressed the balance when Edinburgh were penalised for dropping a scrum in their own 22 and after further back-chat had cost the visitors ten yards, Thomas made no mistake from 40 metres to put Scarlets 19-6 to the good.

When Cornell Du Preez crossed the whitewash after a close in lineout just short of the hour, it was game on, once again. Edinburgh applied even greater pressure in the final quarter and a Tonks penalty cut the deficit to five points. Then, with seven minutes remaining, replacement Toolis crossed at the corner after heavy pressure.

Tonks converted from the touchline to put Edinburgh in front for the first time, but Thomas was on hand to penalise Edinburgh and leave coach Alan Solomons to lament another missed opportunity.

Scorers

Scarlets: Try: Allen; Conversions: S Shingler; Penalties: S Shingler, Thomas (4)

Edinburgh: Tries: Du Preez, A Toolis; Conversion: Tonks; Penalties: Fowles (2), Tonks

Scarlets: M Collins; G Owen, R King, H Parkes (capt), DTH van der Merwe; S Shingler (A Thomas 21), R Williams (A Davies 58); P John (D Evans 75), K Myhill (R Elias 75), P Edwards (R Jones 52); G Earle, D Bulbring; A Shingler, W Boyde (R Pitman 59), M Allen

Edinburgh: G Tonks; D Hoyland (D Fife 51), M Allen (B Kinghorn 70), S Beard, T Brown; P Burleigh, N Fowles (S Kennedy 51); R Sutherland (A Dell 61), l Cochrane (G Turner 25), J Andress (S Berghan 61), A Bresler, B Toolis, M Coman (capt. A Toolis 55), H Watson (J Ritchie 55), C Du Preez

Referee: A Brace (IRFU)