Edinburgh Rugby discovered a new matchwinner in the form of an on-trial player as they got the better of Ospreys 24-16 in their Guinness PRO12 encounter at Myreside.
However, it was not Scotland squad flanker Hugh Blake who was the star performer, but Jade Te Rure, another newcomer at the club.
In an atmosphere reminiscent of the early days of professional rugby – although the match attracted a smaller than anticipated audience of 2891 – a large Welsh contingent surrounded the playing surface and added a buzz to the occasion. Edinburgh, who had last played at the Watsonians’ ground in September 2001, went into the fixture looking to extend a six-match run of home wins.
However, form was largely irrelevant for a match pitting together two sides operating without a host of key men as a result of international commitments and injuries. Indeed, Edinburgh fielded a line-up with only three of the men who started in the European tie against Bordeaux-Begles last month. However, the visitors were hit even harder, with no fewer than 23 absentees.
There was nonetheless a bite to the contest with Ospreys knowing that defeat would hand Glasgow the opportunity to assume pole position in the table with a win in Italy tomorrow, while the clock is ticking on Edinburgh’s bid to secure a top-six finish. And, on an individual basis, the match offered a clutch of youngsters a showcase for their burgeoning talents. Among those tasting top-flight action for the first time was winger Damien Hoyland, who offered an early glimpse of the searing pace he has honed while on duty with the international sevens side and went on to produce an assured performance.
Much of the pre-match attention had focused on Blake, whose promotion to Vern Cotter’s RBS Six Nations squad had attracted a combination of bemusement and anger. However, while the flanker did not do anything wrong, he was easily eclipsed by the recently arrived Te Rure, who has a contract until the end of the season.
The stand off delivered an impressive 50-minute contribution and caught the eye in the opening minutes with his elusive running and change of pace, as well as a tidy offload that illustrated his range of skills. He was also handed the kicking responsibilities although that aspect of his game proved to be less impressive.
He tugged an early penalty attempt left of the target and that miss allowed Ospreys to edged into the lead after 15 minutes when Sam Davies banged over a penalty. However, Te Rure continued to run the show from midfield and he resorted to his strengths to feed Phil Burleigh then loop round to take a scoring pass from Jack Cuthbert before adding the conversion. Two further penalties by Davies restored a lead Ospreys barely deserved but the hosts reached the interval with a 10-9 lead after Te Rure, who had missed with a straightforward effort, sent over a penalty via the post with the final action of the half.
Ospreys restarted with greater intent and ran the ball at the home defence in the early minutes of the second period.
However, Edinburgh were solid in the face of that onslaught and neither side came close to adding to their points tally, leaving Edinburgh with a slender advantage as the game stumbled towards the final quarter.
Tom Brown sparked the half into life with a searing break that created the platform for an attack that ended several phases later with the winger taking a pass from Tom Heathcote and darting in at the corner. Heathcote slotted the conversion to leave Ospreys needing two scores.
Hoyland was despatched to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and that handed the initiative to Ospreys for a brief spell. Davies recorded his only miss with a penalty and Heathcote was also awry with a long-range effort at the other end.
However, Edinburgh were now in charge and they sealed the victory in some style when another sustained spell of pressure ended with Grayson Hart dotting down for a try converted by Heathcote. Ospreys had the final word with a converted try from Dan Evans, but the Welshman look set to lose top spot this weekend.
Edinburgh: Tries: Te Rure, Brown, Hart. Cons: Te Rure, Heathcote. Pen: Te Rure
Ospreys: Try: Evans. Con: Davies. Pens: Davies (3)
Edinburgh Rugby: J Cuthbert, T Brown, S Beard, P Burleigh, D Hoyland, J Te Rure (T Heathcote 51), G Hart, R Sutherland, N Cochrane, WP Nel, A Bresler (F McKenzie 56), O Atkins, R Grant, H Blake, M Coman.
Ospreys: D Evans, T Grabham, A Beck (J Spratt 54), J Matavesi, R Fussell, S Davies, M Roberts, M Thomas (D Jones 61), S Otten (M Dwyer 73), D Arhip, T Cavubati, R Thornton (D Baker 58), J Bearman (J King 44), S Lewis, T Ardron (capt).
Referee: G Conway (IRFU)