Edinburgh Rugby were made to sweat in Italy on Saturday evening against Treviso, but the Murrayfield men held out to record their second win in the Guinness PRO12.
Centre Chris Dean knew the performance wasn’t pretty at the Stadio Monigo, but he hailed his team’s resolve as they ended the match with a man less while trying to keep an eager Treviso team at bay as the hosts attempted to steal victory from under Edinburgh’s noses.
“A win’s a win, going into the break, but it was maybe a bit closer than we would have liked,” said Dean.
“When we came out in the second half, a man down, Treviso picked up some momentum, then they came out firing in the last ten minutes; they really wanted it. But all the work we’ve done in the last few weeks prepared us for that last three minutes and we held them out.”
The Italians had a penalty to draw level in the final five minutes of the encounter, but opted for a series of set scrums which they bossed mercilessly. Edinburgh were repeatedly penalised and eventually reduced to just seven forwards – for the second time in the match – in a nail-biting finale. At the fourth attempt to win a penalty try, Treviso were penalised for a technical binding offence and Edinburgh had miraculously got out of jail.
It had looked like a very different game in the opening half. Edinburgh scored three tries in the opening 33 minutes. Phil Burleigh ghosted over on the right flank after a clever kick by Sean Kennedy gave Edinburgh the attacking opportunity. Then a long flowing move saw winger Damien Hoyland fend off his opposite number before stepping inside the final defender.
Sam Beard grabbed the third and with a 24-6 lead inside the last five minutes of the first half Edinburgh were cruising when Treviso woke up. The home side scored 18 unanswered points either side of half-time to draw level with the visitors at 24-24 in the third quarter.
The visitors’ cause was not helped by a yellow card flashed at Neil Cochrane but the main reason for the Treviso fightback was Edinburgh’s defence, or rather the lack of it.
Treviso were not slow to take advantage, especially their Kiwi full-back Jayden Harward who made huge gains every time he carried the ball and Edinburgh’s handling errors must have reached double figures.
Three penalties by Hayward kept Treviso in touch and the hosts scored two good tries thanks to centre Andrea Pratichetti and the big South African lock Duncan Naude who drove over from short range when Edinburgh were short-handed early in the second half.
Hayward’s fourth penalty tied the scores just before the hour mark and Edinburgh, who should have been going in search of the bonus try, were instead forced to dig deep just to keep a lid on a Treviso side that were bubbling with new-found belief. Greig Tonks fluffed one chance to regain the lead when a long-range kick floated wide of the posts but he made good with an easier attempt eight minutes from time only for Edinburgh to lose the re-start in typically sloppy style.
Ben Toolis had to make a full-stretch try-saving tackle on Hayward to keep the lead intact before an endless series of set scrums, in which Simon Berghan lasted one scrum before being carded, ended in a penalty to Edinburgh to the unfury of the home support.
Treviso: Tries: Pratichetti, Naude. Con: Hayward. Pens: Hayward (4).
Edinburgh: Tries: Burleigh, Hoyland, Beard. Cons: Tonks (3). Pens: Tonks (2).
Treviso: Hayward; Nitoglia, Iannone, Pratichetti, Ragusi, Christie, Smylie; De Marchi, Santamaria, Harden, Naude, Palmer, Barbini, Budd, Barbieri. Subs: Bigi, Zanusso, Ferrari, Gerosa, Montauriol, Steyn, Lucchese, Ambrosini.
Edinburgh: Tonks; Fife, Dean, Beard, Hoyland, Burleigh, Kennedy; Sutherland, Cochrane, Andress, McKenzie, B Toolis, Du Preez, Grant, Masu. Subs: Turner, Dell, Berghan, A Toolis, Watson, Fowles, Johnstone, Cuthbert.
Referee: G Conway (IRFU).