Dragons 24-17 Edinburgh: A favour for Glasgow Warriors but also an exciting glimpse into the future
Edinburgh did Glasgow a favour by guaranteeing possible Champions Cup rugby next season, but also had a peek into the looking glass of their own future and it looked good.
At half-time it seemed a possible capitulation by the capital club would allow the Dragons to overtake Glasgow in the table on points difference, but the stream of young players making their debuts also made a difference as Edinburgh ended up pushing for a draw.
While Edinburgh are expecting 10 internationals back this week for their Champions Cup clash against Racing 92 in Paris, the youngsters emerged with great credit. “The effort to get back into the game was brilliant, but you never want to see losing as an outcome to be celebrated,” said coach Richard Cockerill after the game.
“But seeing where we were with injuries and struggling with the physicality in the first half, to step up our game and be going for a draw at the death was credit to the players – especially the young lads coming on for their first or second game. We can walk away with our heads held high, because if the players had given up at half-time it could have been horrible. Instead we won the second half.”
The Dragons started well as second row Matthew Screech found himself in the clear as he peeled off from a lineout and drove over. Things were to get better for the second row as he got his second try with a 20-yard run in from a half break and offload by outside half Sam Davies.
Edinburgh got on the scoresheet with No 8 Mesu Kunavula going over from short range after a series of penalty kicks to the corner eventually brought their reward. The Dragons right wing Jonah Holmes scored in the corner from an attack which went from side to side. It looked as though the Dragons had claimed the bonus point just before half-time with an attack which started from behind their own line with turnover ball, working left wing Ashton Hewitt clear.
Edinburgh wing Jack Blain did just enough for Hewitt’s heel to touch the line and the TMO to rule out the try.
After the break, time became Edinburgh’s friend – or more strictly, Glasgow’s friend – and there were no points added for the first 25 minutes of the second half.
A Blair Kinghorn kick was regathered by centre Chris Dean and that brought a penalty on halfway. Replacement scrum-half Charlie Shiel went quickly and, as the defence held off, he was able to go all the way for the try.
Kinghorn and Dean again combined for the full-back to have a clear run to the line for his side’s third try and suddenly it was Edinburgh who finished the stronger, striving for the draw.
Scorers: Dragons: Tries – Screech (2), Holmes. Cons – S Davies (3). Pen – S Davies.
Edinburgh: Tries - Kunavula, Shiel, Kinghorn. Con – Kinghorn.
Dragons: J Williams; J Holmes, A Owen, J Dixon, A Hewitt; S Davies, G Bertranou; B Harris, R Hibbard, L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, A Wainwright, H Keddie (Capt), R Moriarty. Reps: E Dee for Hibbard 11, G Bateman for Harris 59, L Brown for Fairbrother 54, B Carter for Davies 50, B Fry for Wainwright 72, R Williams for Bertranou 55, N Tompkins for Dixon 66, E Lloyd not used .
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; J Blain, M Bennett, C Dean, E Sau; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (capt); M McCallum, S Kitchen, L Atalifo, M Sykes, J Hodgson, M Bradbury, L Crosbie, M Kunavula. Reps: P Harrison for Kitchen 56, S Gunn for McCallum 67, A Williams for Atalifo 56, A Ferreira for Sykes 67, C Boyle for Bradbury 51, C Shiel for Pyrgos 49, M Currie for van der Walt 27 , G Taylor for Bennett 78.
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU).