Sam Hidalgo-Clyne claimed his first points for Edinburgh Rugby in a hard-earned 25-13 European Challenge Cup win over London Welsh at BT Murrayfield that was far more struggle than stroll.
The scrum-half admitted he was keen to hang on to goal-kicking duties whenever possible in a bid to boost both club and, eventually, country.
Hidalgo-Clyne, one of a posse of second-half substitutes who helped finally swing a scrappy, disjointed game Edinburgh’s way, slotted a couple of conversions to finally shake off an awkward and persistent visiting side and needed no reminding afterwards how the ability to garner points with the boot had helped predecessor Greig Laidlaw become a fixture in the Test arena.
But in maintaining that the points which really mattered were the ones that enabled Edinburgh to reach the halfway stage of the qualifying group unbeaten, Hidalgo-Clyne also said of his move into the firing line when Tom Heathcote was withdrawn: “I’ve been working hard on goal-kicking so it was nice when the coaches gave me a shot. I kicked through the (Scotland) age-groups then I stopped for a little while only to pick up on it when I was out in New Zealand on a scholarship.
“It gives me another dimension, the way it has done a lot for Greig Laidlaw.
“There was a shaky start with a first miss from a penalty and it didn’t help that I was very nervous. The second kick settled those nerves.”
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons was delighted to have found an additional goal-kicker, saying: “Ben Atiga (coaching assistant) assured me Sam is our second-best kicker. The best way I can describe Sam is as a natural talent who can play anywhere in the backs.
“I told him that if he works on his kicking it will help in terms of his aspirations to play for the national side.”
Edinburgh had to come from behind at half-time and perhaps the best aspect of the win was that they proved they could grind out success when blatantly misfiring, albeit there was a revival from almost the moment that Hidalgo-Clyne and Greig Tonks came on at half-back.
With the game breaking up, the extra injection of pace, added to when Neil Cochrane and Anton Bresler were introduced to the pack, was crucial.
Hidalgo-Clyne said: “We didn’t start well, didn’t do the basics of retaining the ball.
“A lot was said at half time about what we needed to do and the subs had a big impact in getting things back in place, providing tempo and getting the ball over the line. I tried to get the forwards going and getting on the front foot as a team helped as we began to get quicker possession.
“It was about getting into their 22 and claiming points every time we were there.
“We’d have liked a fourth try bonus point but overall it was a job well done.”
Coach Solomons acknowledged that a strong start to the second half eased tensions.
“We made too many errors in the first half, knocking balls on, not finding touch,” he said. “That sort of thing made a rod for our back. They had done nothing in the first half but got an intercept try which was crazy because we should not have pushed the pass.
“All we had to do was be calm, get into their half, hold on to the ball, cut down the error rate and points would come.
“I thought after the first ten minutes of the second half we were going to win. They were struggling to get out of their 22 but I’d like to compliment guys who came on from our bench.”
This was a rare occasion when three Edinburgh front row forwards notched tries through Willem Nel, Neil Cochrane and Rory Sutherland.
And if there was a lack of creativity in the Capital backs, Solomons revealed that Tom Heathcote had taken the field with a worry over a hamstring at a time when an extensive casualty list demanded it was all hands to the pump; and at least there was further evidence that Matt Scott is closing in on his international form.
Heathcote gave Edinburgh the lead with a penalty after 20 seconds, replied to by Gordon Ross who converted when Rhys Crane grabbed an intercept.
A further penalty exchange saw Edinburgh turn around 6-13 behind but Nel’s unconverted try came two minutes after the re-start and when Cochrane followed up his own scrum heel against the head with a try, the outcome was inevitable even if Rory Sutherland’s touchdown meant welcome security.
Edinburgh: Tries – Nel, Cochrane, Sutherland. Conversions – Hidalgo-Clyne (2). Penalties – Heathcote (2).
London Welsh: Try – Crane. Conversion – Ross. Penalties – Ross (2).
Edinburgh: McLennan, Fife, Scott, Strauss, T Visser, Heathcote, Hart, Sutherland, Hilterbrand, W Nel, Atkins, B Toolis, Leonardi, Grant, Coman. Subs: Beard for McLennan (64), Hidalgo-Clyne for Heathcote (55), Tonks for Hart (56), McInally for Leonardi (66), Cochrane for Hilterbrand (60), Bresler for Atkins (60), Andress for Nel (64), Not used – Shiells.
London Welsh: Kear, Crane, Reynolds, Awcock, Elder, Ross, Rowley, Aholelei, Vella, Cooper, McNally, Corker, West, Kirwan, Pienaar. Subs: Cahill for Aholelei (40), Lewis for Rowley (36), Morris for Vella (60), D Browne for West (48), Gilding for Cooper (58), May for Awcock (63). Not used: McCaffrey, Scott.
Ref: Cedric Marchat (France).