Tom Brown urges Edinburgh to take up the challenge

Tom Brown scores Edinburgh's first try against Perpignan. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Tom Brown scores Edinburgh's first try against Perpignan. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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Tom Brown today sounded a rallying call ahead of Edinburgh Rugby’s do-or-die visit to Munster on Sunday in the final round of the Heineken European Cup pool stage.

Although out of contention for a place in the quarter finals of the blue riband event, a win – particularly with a try bonus – at the home of the already-qualified twice champions could see Edinburgh extend this season’s adventure by dropping into the last eight of the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup.

Amidst a period of upheaval on and off the pitch that would represent progress Brown, whose first half try set Edinburgh on the way to a crucial 27-16 home win over Perpignan on Saturday, is determined the chance will not be missed.

“It’s going to be a huge, huge game in Munster,” said Brown.

Any win would see Edinburgh finish on 16 points and that is one more than got Biarritz into last season’s “Amlin”.

However, the incentive for Munster is to garner sufficient spoils to ensure they earn a home quarter final in the “Heineken”.

“They will be ruthless and I imagine it will be a sell out crowd making for a hostile environment. But I’ve played there three times before and we will approach the fixture in the same way as we did Perpignan.

“We will assess what we have to do and try to go out and stamp our authority on the game early. The boys will be more than up for it,” said Brown.

Let’s get the nit-picking about a notable win out of the way.

Had Edinburgh managed a fourth try for a bonus they would still have been in the hunt for Heineken qualification. So, with three tries in the bag and Perpignan two scores behind, it was astonishing, in the final play, to see Edinburgh newcomer Carl Bezuidenhout clear to touch rather than launch one last attempted counter attack.

Such is the level of awareness required even if South African Bezuidenhout, a second half substitute, had only been in the country a matter of days and somebody, doubtless, will be having a word lest the same situation arises at Thomond Park this weekend!

That said in every other respect Bezuidenhout looked an asset.

It was his grubber kick that led directly to the third Edinburgh try, by Dougie Fife, and he moved intelligently from full back to first receiver in the lead up to the try by Cornell Du Preez which punished the sin-binning of Perpignan hooker, captain and French internationalist Guilhelm Guirado.

Had Du Preez not decided to barge over himself there was Tom Brown unmarked outside ready for the overlap score that would have contrasted with his earlier effort.

“I have to give Roddy Grant the credit for my try,” declared Brown. “Roddy got hold of the ball in a turnover situation and when he ripped it out of French hands it just popped into my hands as I stood by myself in the guard position beside the ruck.

“A gap opened like the Red Sea and I was straight through.

“While I’d like to think it was my pace which carried me to the line in truth there was nobody within ten metres of me.

“I’ll take it, though. The boys had been ribbing me that I hadn’t had a try this season!”

The lack of scores for winger Tom is more easily understood when it is recalled he is only four starts into a comeback after damaging an ankle in a pre-season fixture.

Three of these outings have resulted in wins over Gloucester (away), league champions Leinster and now Perpignan while the Glasgow encounter was one that Edinburgh could and should have won with ease.

So, the 23-year-old once-capped former Edinburgh Accies and Currie star is proving a talisman and he admits there has been an upside to an awkward absence as he stood on the sidelines while a new coaching regime took over – especially as he is out of contract soon and keen to remain at Murrayfield. “I’ve come in fresh and I want to bring a bit of energy to the team,” he explained.

“It’s definitely a strain being out but it has made me stronger and more determined to make an impact.”

Following a recent Evening News article which mentioned former Grand Slam winger Iwan Tukalo and current Lion Stuart Hogg as the type of players who just had to touch the ball to create a crowd buzz, an ex-Scotland cap kindly called the sports desk suggested Brown fell into the same category.

The latest Edinburgh win, when defence was so stout that 132 tackles were made and only ten missed despite having just 45 per cent possession and 44 per cent territory, offered further evidence of Brown’s status as a crowd pleasing all round performer.

Most significantly the 77 metres he made in possession was almost double that of the next highest player, David Denton, albeit his 44 metres were racked up in heavy traffic.

“This game would be won and lost in defence and we also had to stamp out authority early.

“Fortunately we did that and really fronted up making for an even happier camp,” was Brown’s summing up of a match where the Perpignan try, by replacement Maxime Delonca, came late on.

Will Edinburgh be even happier next weekend?

Before the visit to Munster there are sound reasons to believe Greig Tonks will be included as a stand off in the provisional Scottish Six Nations squad and the uncapped flanker, Roddy Grant, has equally strong claims.

It was pleasing, also, to see Ally Dickinson sort out early scrummaging problems while Dougie Fife’s fifth try in seven matches makes him an obvious contender for a Test debut.

Add in Dave Denton, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist and Greig Laidlaw being shoe-ins on current form, Nick De Luca always in the thick of the action again and Matt Scott due back from injury imminently, despite being a late withdrawal from the bench against Perpignan, and interim national coach Scott Johnson could well be about to swing the balance of power back from Glasgow to Edinburgh.



Tries: Brown, Du Preez, Fife. Conversions: Laidlaw (3).

Penalties: Laidlaw (2).

Perpignan: Try: Delonca. Conversion: Hook. Penalties: Hook (3).

Edinburgh: J Cuthbert (C Bezuidenhout 40); D Fife, N De Luca (J Dominguez 55), B Atiga, T Brown; G Tonks; G Laidlaw (capt, G Hart 75)); A Dickinson (W Blaauw 65), R Ford (A Lutui 75), W Nel (G Cross 62), G Gilchrist, I Van Der Westhuizen (O Atkins 55), C Du Preez, D Denton, R Grant (T Leonardi 70).

Perpignan: J Hook, R Haughton, L Mafi, S Piukala, W Mjekevu; T Allan (J Michel 58), D Duvenage (J Ecochard 50), S Taumalolo (K Pulu 66), G Guirado (capt), P Ion (K Pulu 58), S Vahaamahina (G Vilaceca 40), L Charteris (L Narraway 62), D Leo, K Chateau, J-P Perez (M Delonca 56).

Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Attendance: 5081.

Yellow card: Guirado.