Edinburgh assistant coach Stevie Scott hailed prop forward Al Dickinson for his last-gasp heroics that took the club to within 80 minutes of a European final.
The Scotland loosehead got his body under London Irish’s David Paice as he crashed over the Edinburgh line at the death of Sunday evening’s heart-stopping quarter-final at the Madejski Stadium. With the visitors leading by five points a try would have drawn the Exiles level with a kickable conversion to snatch the win.
After a torturous period of reviews by the television match official, however, there was deemed to be no discernible evidence a try had been scored and victory was Edinburgh’s.
They can now look forward with excitement to the semi-final clash with Guinness Pro12 rivals Newport Gwent Dragons a week on Friday night. Win that one and they are into the final against Exeter or Gloucester at Twickenham Stoop on 1 May.
“It was definitely held up,” Scott confidently declared yesterday, referring to the late drama. “If it had been the other way around we’d be claiming for the try ourselves. But if you watch the footage back there was no clear vision of the ball.
“Alasdair Dickinson did a superb job as he didn’t go into make the tackle on the line he actually dropped in underneath him to stop the ball going to deck. It was clever play and that’s why he’s a top pro and international player.”
Scott was able to draw breath yesterday and reflect on a ding-dong battle which swung one way then the next, with the outcome in the balance until the very last second.
“It was a funny game to be involved in from both a playing and coaching point of view,” he said. “We raced into a 16-0 lead and they hit back with an 18-0 phase of their own. There was massive momentum swings in the game.
“The big change came in about the 34th minute when we got penalised for a squint put in. We were in control but little errors proved costly and gave them the impetus to come back at us.
“They got another penalty and missed it at the end of the half and in many ways it would be better have they scored that as then we would have gone in at 16-6 but they ended up getting the try right on the whistle and suddenly it’s 16-10.”
London Irish attacked again in the third quarter to forge a lead, but Fraser McKenzie’s try and another successful kick from the perfect boot of man-of-the match Sam Hidalgo-Clyne edged Edinburgh ahead again and they managed to hold on.
Any excitement about the semi-final, however, has been put on hold as Edinburgh seek to take another big stride towards the top-six Pro12 place which will earn qualification to the elite Champions Cup next season as Irish giants Munster visit BT Murrayfield on Saturday night.
“It’s a huge game for us on Saturday,” said Scott. “Munster went out of Champions Cup in the group stage so their only focus now is to win the Pro12 and they’ll come here with a strong team.
“It’s a big night for sure. We need to win to keep putting pressure on the teams around us – Connacht and Scarlets, it’s a three-horse race.
“Make no mistake this club would love to win a semi-final and get into a final but the bottom line is we want to be playing Champions Cup next season.