Edinburgh Rugby centre Matt Scott declared himself satisfied with an impressive performance in last night’s 28-13 Guinness PRO12 home win over Cardiff Blues.
However, the 24-year-old admitted he had prepared for a considerably easier return to competitive action than the full-match contribution he delivered.
A late call-off by Sam Beard led to Scott’s plan for the match undergoing radical revision, but he was equal to the task and exhibited the incisive running that has been sorely missed by the Capital outfit since he sustained a shoulder injury in the final match of last season’s league programme.
“I was originally meant to be on the bench. I only found out when I turned up to Murrayfield that I might be starting,” he explained. “So 20 minutes off the bench turned into a full 80. I felt great, really fit and that’s testament to the work the conditioners have done with me.
“I feel as fit as I have ever felt – a bit rusty obviously, and I made a couple of mistakes. After six months out, I said to myself that I would make mistakes but I’ve just got to pick myself up and move on. It was ideal getting the win and 80 minutes.”
Scott had declined the opportunity to ease his way back into competitive action with an appearance in the BT Premiership for Boroughmuir, the club to which he is allocated under the professional draft.
“Alan (Solomons) said that he could put me back into a club but if I felt fine and ready, instead of playing in a Prem 1 game, he would put me straight in,” said Scott, who is already eyeing the opportunity to add to his haul of 21 Scotland caps when the RBS Six Nations comes around. Despite his late start to the season, he believes that he is already ahead of where he was in the build-up to the 2014 tournament.
“Last year I picked up an injury in the Autumn Tests and I was out until the first game of the Six Nations. I know myself I have a lot longer run-in now, with a good month and a bit of games.
“I was originally targeting the London Welsh game on December 7, so I’m back two weeks early,” he added, before conceding that he is not taking a place in the Scotland squad for granted and knows he must build his form.
“The guys have been playing exceptionally well for the national team and there’s a lot of competition, so I know I need to start playing well. Obviously that’s on my radar. We’ve got an important block of games now with Edinburgh – we’ve got Zebre away which is always a tough one, London Welsh, London Welsh and then Treviso at home, so a good run of games.”
Scott was among several players making a return to action – Mike Coman and Tom Brown were also back in harness – while there were impressive showings by young prop Rory Sutherland, winger Dougie Fife and stand-off Tom Heathcote, whose efforts earned him the man of the match award.
Watched by a crowd announced as 3803, Edinburgh were never headed, taking the lead after eight minutes when Sutherland was prominent in the build-up to Andries Strauss dotting down. Heathcote converted then responded to a penalty for Cardiff by Gareth Davies with three successful kicks at goal. A three-pointer by Davies completed the first-half scoring, with the hosts enjoying a 16-6 advantage at the break.
Fife and Brown scored tries in the first quarter of the second half, with Heathcote converting the former. Those scores appeared to have secured a third win of the league campaign for Edinburgh although the hosts had to produce a defensive effort brimming with character to repel a sustained effort by Cardiff.
The visitors, who had five players on international duty with Wales, Samoa and Argentina, finally found a way through when Adam Thomas crossed for a try, converted by Davies. However, Edinburgh, who had three men involved with Scotland and a list of others still out through injury, held on for the victory.
Edinburgh Rugby: Tries: Strauss, Fife, Brown. Con; Heathcote (2). Pens: Heathcote (3).
Cardiff Blues: Try: Thomas. Con: Davies. Pens: Davies (2)
Edinburgh Rugby: N McLennan, D Fife, M Scott, A Strauss, T Brown, T Heathcote, S Hidalgo-Clyne, R Sutherland (G Shiells 72), J Hilterbrand (N Cochrane 46), W P Nel, O Atkins (F McKenzie 67), B Toolis, M Coman (T Leonardi 75), R Grant, D Denton
Cardiff Blues: G Anscombe, R Smith, A Thomas, G Evans (G Smith 77), D Fish (G Walsh 67), G Davies, L Williams (L Jones 63), S Hobbs (T Davies 57), K Dacey (R Williams 70), A Jones (S Andrews 70), J Hoeata (C Dicomidis 26 (J Navidi 44)), M Cook, J Turnbull, E Jenkins, M Vosawai
Referee: L Colgan (IRFU)