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Newportgwentdragons: 49 Edinburgh: 28

Let's get the positive out of the way first.  Despite a display of cluelessness that rivalled anything delivered in the club's history - which is saying something - Edinburgh are still not out of contention for the playoffs.  Their four try bonus point still leaves them only three points behind second-placed Ospreys, no-one now having a game in hand.  And who is to say whether the Swansea-based outfit will stay there if and when the powers-that-be manage to meet in order to consider their mysterious inability to locate a fit prop in their region for the postponed match with Ulster?

Shame about the seven - count 'em - touchdowns that went the other way at Rodney Parade this evening in a 49-28 humiliation that must have left the Embra squad wishing that the ongoing eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull had rendered all forms of transport to South Wales, not just airborne modes, impossible.

It's interesting reading the pre-match thoughts of the opposition.  For example, Llanelli always seem to think they just need to turn up at Murrayfield - or Parc y Scarlets, for that matter - to win.  Yet their record against the Gunners away, and increasingly at home, is woeful.  There is a bit of that about Edinburgh's tussles with the Dragons, particularly when visiting Rodney Parade. No-one is ever going to accuse the Newporters of being the most expansive of sides, but what they do, they do well.  They are significantly better than the Gunners seem to give them credit for, as their league placing suggests.  But while their gameplan is no secret, once again, Edinburgh seemed to have no answer.  It was Connacht redux, only ten times worse.

The deficit was a manageable 20-14 at the break.  But 17 unanswered points from the Welsh side in the quarter hour after the restart put the match out of reach of the visitors.  They were always chasing the game from then on.  Ford's bonus point try on 72 minutes may or may not prove to be important if results elsewhere in the final two rounds go the Gunners' way, but they will also have to win both of their own matches.  Even an out-of-form Ulster side with nothing to play for and a Leinster team already safely qualified are looking like a bridge too far for these guys  if they cannot shake themselves out of their current mindset.

The catastrophe in Connacht was clearly not a blip and there is much work to be done if the Gunners are to secure a decent end to the season. They have been in the playoff zone pretty much all season, looking very good at times, but have now slipped to fifth.  Frankly, it is difficult to see how they can claw their way back.

Quite simply, this is not even close to being good enough.  The age old problems of a distinct lack of leadership and a defence more often posted missing in action rather than doing its job are back with us.  The leaders in this side have got to start taking on responsibility to make things happen. 

To my mind, one enormous step in the right direction would be starting Greig Laidlaw as scrum half and skipper for the rest of the season.  There are plenty of battle hardened individuals in the squad who are currently not performing.  This is a young man who has fast developed a reputation for steering his team to tight victories, two of which are essential.

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.  But she is nearing the end of her warm up and the reckoning is upon us.  Does this squad have the strength of character to deliver?

Sorry if all that's a bit incoherent.  I'm not in an especially positive frame of mind at the moment.


Dragons - Tries: Harries 3, W Evans, Smith, Fussell, M Thomas Con: Evans, Arlidge 3 Pens: Arlidge 2
- Tries: MacDonald, penalty try, Cairns, Ford Cons: Godman 4


Newport-Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; Harries, Watkins, Smith, Fussell; Tovey, W Evans; Gustafson, Willis, Palmer, Sidoli, Charteris, Bearman, G. Thomas, Falatau.
Replacements: Riley for Watkins (37), Arlidge for Tovey (16), Walker for W Evans (72), Burns for Willis (63), Castle for Palmer (48), MacDonald for Charteris (51), Coombs for Bearman (44).

Edinburgh: Thompson; Robertson, Cairns, Houston, Visser; Godman, M Blair; Jacobsen, Ford, G Cross, MacLeod, J Hamilton, MacDonald, Rennie, Callam.
Replacements: Traynor for Visser (67), Laidlaw for M Blair (73), Kelly for Ford (73), R Grant for Rennie (50), MacKenzie for Callam (60).
Not Used: D Blair, Webster.

Att: 7,500

Ref: James Jones (WRU).