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Edinburgh Rugby: 11 (8) Leinster 6 (3)

Apparently, a third of Europe's wind resource passes over Scotland, or so boosters of renewable energy claim.  At times at Murrayfield last night it felt like it had all arrived at once and was swirling around the national stadium.  Throw in a first half monsoon of biblical proportions and a playing surface that is about as firm underfoot as the average beach and you do not have the ideal conditions for running rugby. 

This was a night for the front rows and the lower velocity guys up front.  It was a night for big hearts and stout defence.  And it was a night for a bit of nous in playing to the conditions - traditionally, the sort of night when the Embramen would have struggled in the past.

That they did not was due to a determined team performance.  Yes, there were some standouts in the December gloom, but this squad played for each other and did not take one step back in attack or defence all night.  This was epitomised for me by the final act of the match, when they withheld enormous Leinster pressure on their own line, repelling close-in phase after phase before forcing the error and winning a defensive scrum five with two minutes to go.  And they maintained their discipline and composure off the scrummage, putting together a series of pick and drives deep in their 22 to kill the game.  That takes some character.

Cornell 'MotM' Du Preez duly picked up his usual Man of the Match award.  But you could have given the gong to the rest of the pack and not a few in the back division too, such was the unity of purpose and quality of the overall performance.  It's easy to get up for the big set pieces - the Heineken knock-outs, Rabo playoffs or local derbies.  But it is on nights like these, when there's not much at stake and you'd really rather be somewhere in the warm and dry, that the real character of a team shows itself.  On last night's evidence, the Embramen are on the right track.

Makeshift ten he may be, but Greig Tonks once again looked the part at ten - not only directing a ten man game, but creating too.  His miss pass to Dougie Fife for the match's only try was a thing of beauty on an ugly night.  And the more I see of Cuthbert at full back, the more impressed I become.  He looked secure in defence, his tactical kicking was generally sound and he threatened in attack.  I remain disappointed by the lack of zip about Greeeg's service to his ten, but he nevertheless had a busy evening and his two sublime breaks should really have led to tries had the support been there.

Meanwhile, Dave Denton continues to grow in stature and it is a pleasure to see that he has committed to staying at Murrayfield.  While one would like to see him staying on his feet a bit longer, he put in a power of work with ball in hand.  Ollie Atkins had a fine game, his break in the first half, smashing through the first up defence, eventually led to Fife's try, and was part of a tight five who, on a quality surface, would have hammered the enemy pack in the scrummage. 

In the early exchanges, the Gunners enjoyed plenty of pressure.  Their handling let them down on occasion, albeit that was understandable in the conditions as both sides struggled in the rain.  Indeed, it was not until the end of the first quarter that Madigan nudged the visitors ahead slightly against the run of play with a penalty.

As the half wore on, however, it seemed that the Embra pack were gaining the upper hand and it was little surprise when they scored on the half hour.  Atkins' power opened up the defence on half way and Laidlaw took the ball on superbly to the Leinster 22.  The attack seemed to have lost momentum as the defence tracked back, but the Gunners remained patient, working the phases before whipping the ball left.  Tonks' pass behind Cuthbert in the line found the speeding Fife to put the winger over in the corner for the unconverted try.

And after more Edinburgh pressure immediatley afterwards, Laidlaw extended the lead to 8-3 with a penalty.  They could have opened up a handy lead just before the break, kicking a long penalty to the corner but they lost the ball forward in the close-in drives.  The conditions were making the game a bit of a lottery and one wondered whether they might have missed a golden opportunity.

Leinster certainly started the second period well, Madigan knocking over another three pointer on 42 minutes.  That was cancelled out three minutes later, when Laidlaw hit his second penalty for an 11-6 Edinburgh advantage.  Although Leinster were looking more dangerous, the home defence was solid. 

Heading into the final quarter, the game was starting to open up as players tired and increasingly made mistakes.  Kickers on both sides sent a series of box kicks out on the full, gifting field position to the enemy.  But no-one was able to take advantage.  Laidlaw's second break of the match set up more Edinburgh pressure, but they were not able to convert it into points.  As the match entered the final ten minutes, the Gunners were playing the game in the right place, deep in the Leinster half.  Then they gave away an unnecessary penalty, which allowed Leinster fierld position from which they launched their last attack.  But the Embramen were more than up to the challenge and held out for a fine win.  Smart, smart rugby.

3,000 intrepid supporters saw the Gunners show a fair bit of backbone.  Given that that is a quality that has been largely absent from their approach to the Inter-City in recent years, it is hugely encouraging.  Bring on Glasgow at Murrayfield on Boxing Day.