Edinburgh Rugby got back to winning ways in the Guinness Pro 12 last night with a long-awaited first bonus-point win of the season.
Alan Solomons’ men ultimately cruised to a 32-13 victory over the Dragons and, having so far failed to score four tries in either a Pro12 or European encounter, finally registered a five-pointer thanks to touchdowns by WP Nel, Al Dickinson, Tom Brown and Matt Scott.
“We scrummed particularly well and Willem [Nel] played very well and scored a good try and was unlucky to have another cancelled out,” said the Edinburgh coach Solomons of his man-of-the-match tighthead. The South African coach is out of contract at the end of the season along with 32 of his squad, including Nel.
“It is important that we keep WP here. The team has been built over the last two and a bit seasons and we have developed a very good pack and he is an important part of that going forward.
“We know need to add some firepower but it is important we keep the core players here so we can build the club.”
A dominant pack laid the foundations for an ultimately comfortable win, with the creaking Dragons suffering a fatal total of four yellow cards as they failed to get to grips with a marauding home eight.
Edinburgh were by no means at the top of their game but, after three straight losses in the league, this was very much a case of job done.
It was the home side who made the early inroads with a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty before Dorian responded for the Dragons nine minutes later to level matters on the quarter-hour mark.
In the week building up to the game and with the weather forecast looking grim, Edinburgh players had braced the home faithful for a less than thrilling spectacle but, by the time kick-off arrived, a miserable day in the Capital had improved into a cold but dry and still evening, and the game was an open affair, albeit fragmented by errors on both sides.
But it was through the tried and tested driving play of the forwards that Edinburgh got the first try on the board, Scotland prop Nel burrowing over in the right corner after 18 minutes and Hidalgo-Clyne converting.
The scrum-half added a penalty eight minutes later to open up a ten-minute lead but Edinburgh suffered a blow as full-back Greig Tonks went off injured and was replaced by 18-year-old Blair Kinghorn.
However, it was the Scotland Under-20 prospect who made the break for Edinburgh’s best passage of play in the opening 40 minutes. After had nibbled back three points for the Dragons, the home side finally cut loose as Kinghorn hit a beautiful line and played a deft inside pass to propel his side into the visitors’ 22. Some swift hands ended with Nel appearing to have sneaked over under the posts for his second try of the evening. But the TMO ruled a double movement and Edinburgh headed in at the break frustrated not to have taken a potentially decisive grip on proceedings.
Their hopes of pushing on at the start of the second half were boosted within ten minutes when an infringement by Boris Stankovich resulted in the Dragons loosehead being dispatched to the sin bin by Italian referee Marius Mitrea.
The away side’s predicament became even more acute when Phil Price, the front row replacement brought on, was also carded five minutes later to reduce the Welsh region to 13 men.
Edinburgh dominated possession as you would expect and, despite making slightly heavy weather of it, they managed to stretch the Dragons both ways before John Hardie just managed to keep his scoring pass lateral for prop Al Dickinson to twist in at the corner.
There was an interminable wait as the referee went to TMO but the groans of the home fans gave way to double cheers as the try was duly awarded and the Dragons suffered yet another yellow card when kicker and stand-off was pinged for a misdemeanour in the build-up to keep the fast-buckling Welshmen contained to 13 bodies.
Edinburgh continued to turn the screw and yet another muscular maul forced the bedraggled Welsh into yet more illegality, which resulted in yet another yellow, this time for second row Matthew Screech.
A punishing scrum sapped more of the last remaining fight from the visitors and there was space out wide for right wing Brown to dive over in the corner with eight minutes left, Hidalgo-Clyne just wide with the conversion.
When Will Helu was bundled into touch in the last five minutes it looked like yet another bonus point was going to elude Edinburgh but they kept pressing and Scotland centre Scott found the space to charge over.
Dragons managed a late consolation try from substitute Nic Cudd, converted by , but it was Edinburgh’s night.
Scorers. Edinburgh: Tries: Nel, Dickinson, Brown, Scott; Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne (2), Kinghorn; Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne (2)
Dragons: Try: Cudd; Con ; Pen:
Edinburgh: G Tonks; T Brown, C Dean, M Scott, W Helu; P Burleigh, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel, A Toolis, F McKenzie, M Coman, J Hardie, C Du Preez. Subs: N Cochrane, R Sutherland, J Andress, J Ritchie, H Watson, S Kennedy, M Allen, B Kinghorn
Dragons: C Meyer; T Prydie, A Hughes, A Warren, A Hewit; D , C Davies; B Stankovich, E Dee, S Knight, M Screech, R Landman, N Crosswell, O Griffiths, E Jackson. Subs: T Rhys Thomas, P Price, L Fairbrother, C Hill, N Cudd, S Pretorius, J Tovey, R Wardle
Referee: M Mitrea (Italy). Att: 3,354