Edinburgh Rugby back Greig Tonks has put a “must-win” label on tomorrow’s Guinness Pro 12 clash with Newport Gwent Dragons at BT Murrayfield.
Both sides enter the match under a cloud with just win apiece in five outings so far, but, as international full back Tonks notes, just nine points cover seven teams and progress can be swift when a winning formula is found.
“It is really big for us,” said Tonks. “If you look at the table, everyone is clustered in that mid-to-bottom part with one or two wins from five so far.
“If you get one win you can jump a few places.
“We are focusing on the next few league games, allowing for a break for a couple of European ties.
“Pretty soon we could jump quite high, but it is a must-win game for us, especially at home against a team like Dragons in a similar position to us.”
What could count in a fragile Edinburgh team’s favour is not just a recent winning record against Dragons, but an ability to hold their collective nerve down the home straight.
Towards the end of last season, at Newport, the Scots stood firm on their own line despite having a player in the sin-bin to escape with a 23-19 success.
Furthermore, just one match into the campaign they obliterated a Dragons scrum in the final minute, allowing Harry Leonard to kick the decisive penalty.
Tonks played in that game and recalled: “There was grass and mud flying everywhere as our forwards put in a big scrum effort and we got our reward.
“As a team we have done reasonably well against Dragons, albeit in close-fought affairs.”
This time around Edinburgh are coming off a defeat in Ulster, but Tonks sees scope for instant atonement.
“It was a mixed mood when we re-grouped on Monday,” he continued. “At the 60-minute mark in Belfast we were in the game, but a 13-0 scoreline disguised the fact we gifted them a try. Take that try away and it would have been just 6-0. We were in the game, but let it slip.
“We didn’t play the best attacking rugby we could have, which meant we didn’t punish them. We got in their half and didn’t capitalise on territory.
“A couple of times we got near there line and lost a line-out or scrum. It’s frustrating that we let them into the game, gave them a couple of tries.
“The positive was we competed well and defended well. It was just the last few minutes where we caved in a little bit.
“We need something to click. It’s been building and there’s a good squad of guys who know what they are doing. We’ve just had a lot of mistakes, poor errors at important times of the game.
“One day when we don’t make those mistakes it will click and we will score several tries, [but] we need that to happen soon, really.”
A rare Saturday afternoon outing for Edinburgh will also be an opportunity to raise morale going into the European Challenge Cup, with matches against Bordeaux- Begles (away) and Lyon (home) looming after tomorrow before the resumption of domestic hostilities.
Tonks admits there is a springboard to be gained against Dragons, while stating it is “one game at a time”. However, Europe has a special significance for him.
“My debut in the Heineken Cup was for [previous club] Northampton against Edinburgh at Murrayfield in a season where we went on to reach the final against Leinster,” he added.
“I was 24th man for that occasion in the Millennium Stadium and it made a big impression on me.”
Tonks also has first-hand knowledge of just what notable Euro success means for Edinburgh, having travelled north for a medical on the day Toulouse were defeated in a quarter final at Murrayfield.
Tonks sat high up in the stand that day amongst a 35,000-plus crowd absorbing the atmosphere and hoping one day to be part of a similar experience.
For the moment that is some way off, but Tonks is in for the long haul and determined to steady the ship, starting tomorrow, before moving off in the right direction again.