Edinburgh made it two wins out of two in the Guinness Pro14 as they defeated the Dragons 38-15 at Myreside but new coach Richard Cockerill was in no mood to hand out pats on backs, branding his team’s display “disappointing”.
Tries from the excellent Blair Kinghorn, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Junior Rasolea and debutant Robbie Fruean secured a maximum five points for the home side but the head coach believes his side will need to improve a lot when they face tougher opposition.
“Great result, great five points but disappointed with how we played,” was Cockerill’s instant appraisal after the game. “We played poorly at times but did enough to win the game. Credit to the players on that but we are a better side than the way we played and I’m disappointed.”
Edinburgh led 13-9 at half-time and stretched that to 20-9 before Dragons inched their way back into the game and cut the deficit to two points at one stage thanks to the boot for Gavin Henson.
“We had opportunities but our lineout was a bit scrappy, we dropped the ball and we were inaccurate,” continued Cockerill. “The middle part of the second half was pretty horrible.”
Cockerill was delighted former Bath and Crusaders centre Fruean got on the scoresheet in his first Edinburgh appearance but knows it will time for him to find his feet fully after a long injury lay-off.
Cockerill said: “It’s his first hit-out the plan wasn’t for him to go 80 but he did and he did well. You saw his finish for the try, though there were two or three he dropped we would have liked him to keep hold of.”
Edinburgh returned to Myreside for the first time this season and were up against the same opposition they completed their home programme last term.
On that occasion they had fought back to beat the Welsh region 24-20 and snap a nine-game losing streak. They went on to beat Glasgow at Scotstoun the following week, and started the new campaign with a win at Cardiff, so were going for a fourth Pro12/14 victory on the trot – something they hadn’t achieved since the start of the 2015-16 season.
The opening exchanges were dominated by the visitors as they enjoyed lots of early possession and had made a few threats on the home line before a Gavin Henson penalty gave them a deserved lead.
Former Wales and Lions star Henson, who was initially deployed at stand-off last night, then clipped over a neatly-taken drop goal to double the advantage in the 15th minute.
As the game moved into its second quarter, the home side finally sparked into life as a well worked short lineout move between hooker Stuart McInally and blindside Jamie Ritchie got them on the front foot with the first sustained set of phases.
Fruean enjoyed his first real taste of the action with some deft touches but the Dragons line held, although they did infringe to allow Duncan Weir to halve the lead with a straightforward penalty.
The home stand-off then levelled the scores in the 27th minute as Cockerill’s men started to take a grip on proceedings.
That grip tightened bang on the half-hour mark as Edinburgh scored the first try of the evening. And what a cracker it was as Chris Dean’s cute inside flip found the onrushing Blair Kinghorn, who scorched over. Weir converted and things were looking rosy.
Kinghorn sparked another fine attack with a surge up the left which almost played wing Jason Harries in but desperate Dragons’ defence held them out. There was a twist when Weir was sent to the sin bin for stamping in a ruck.
The 14 men couldn’t quite hold out as Dragons were rewarded from some pressure late in the half as Henson, who had switched to centre after Sam Beard went off, knocked over another penalty.
The second half started in an open manner and it was Edinburgh who struck six minutes in when Kinghorn again hit a beautiful line and put in Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to dive over between the sticks and Weir, who was back from the bin, slotted the extras to make it 20-9.
Henson chipped another three points back with a well-struck pebnalty and continued his impressive night with the boot to pull his side back to withing two points.
Earlier it looked like they had scored in the left corner after a majestic cross-field kick by sub Angus O’Brien. But the TMO spotted that wing Hallam Amos had a foot in touch as he made the scoring pass.
Weir responded to Henson’s run of successful penalties to make it 23-18 before the home side struck a decisive blow as substitute centre Junior Rasolea barged over in the left corner for an unconverted score that put Edinburgh ten points clear. Then Fruean struck after a mighty driving maul deep into the Dragons’ 22.
Edinburgh: Tries: Kinghorn, Hidalgo-Clyne, Rasolea, Fruean. Cons: Weir 3. Pens: Weir 3.
Dragons: Pens: Henson 5. Drop Goals: Henson.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Hoyland, C Dean, R Freuan, J Harries; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; M Rizzo, S McInally, WP Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, H Watson, M Bradbury. Subs: Ford, Marfo, Berghan, McKenzie, Du Preez, Fowles, Tovey, Rasolea.
Dragons: Z Kirchner; Ashton Hewitt, T Morgan, S Beard, H Amos; G Henson, C Davies; B Harris, E Dee, L Brown, R Landman, C Hill, J,Benjamin, H Keddie.Subs: R Buckley, P Price, L Fairbrother, M Screech, M Williams, O Leonard, A O’Brien, A Hughes.
Referee: S Berry (Rsa)