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DRAGONS SLAIN

Gunners: 33 Dragons: 3



Together with Derrick Lee, Nathan Hines and Brendan Laney have been key figures in the Gunners squad during their time with us. It will be a great wrench to lose them to retirement and to pastures new.

But tonight's game was a fitting send-off, with Wagga and the Chainsaw taking part in a celebration of the Gunners' version of total rugby. With Glasgow's excellent win in Wales earlier in the day taking them to 44 points in the League, Edinburgh Rugby wrapped up their own bonus point win before the first half was over to join them. Then it was showtime.

With the Melrose Sevens taking place today, there was more than a hint of the abbreviated game about the way the home side approached this game. There were brilliant offloads out of the tackle, thrilling breaks, outrageous dummies aplenty as the Murrayfield crowd were royally entertained by a five tries to nil thumping of fourth-placed Dragons, sealing a Celtic double over the visitors this season. And all this despite losing Craig Smith to a controversial sin-binning early in the game, and playing against a fine Newport side, for whom Ceri Sweeney shone at stand-off.

Right from the kick off, Edinburgh were threatening, with Kelly, Smith and Blair combining well to put Paterson close. And another mazy Paterson run minutes later threatened the Dragons' line, only for the Newporters to turn over and put 6' 10" lock Charteris away on a stately breakaway, which eventually led to the visitors' first - and only - points of the game: a Sweeney penalty for offside.

After the Dragons had botched a useful looking overlap in the home 22, there was a sight almost as rare as a Gary Lineker yellow card in soccer - backchat from Captain Blackadder over a referee Courtney decision seeing the Gunners marched back ten metres at a penalty on ten minutes. Not long after this, Smith was yellow carded for a ruck offence in the Edinburgh 22. It was a genuinely surprising decision, but there was a danger that Gunners frustration might have let the Dragons take a hold of the game at this point.

Happily, the defence at the subsequent lineout was sound, and a fabulous Hugo penalty from half way after a Newport high tackle put the Gunners pack just inches from the dragons' line. A great Murray take at the lineout saw Andy Kelly driven over in the corner for the first try of the night. Indeed, it was short-handed Edinburgh who were taking control of the game during the power play, and replacement prop Ally Dickinson found himself with a half chance on the wing just five minutes later.

Just as Smith returned to the fray, the Gunners stretched their lead on 26 minutes. Another Paterson break in traffic set up Hines, who burst through the defensive line, giving to Di Rollo. The Grim Reaper committed his man beautifully to put Webster clear on the enemy ten metre line. No one was going to catch the champion kart man, who cruised in under the posts for the try, goaled by Paterson. 12 - 3.

After a super Kelly break, Springbok Montgomery, under little pressure, casually kicked a Gunners clearance through his own dead ball line. From the resulting Edinburgh scrum five, once and future Lion Simon Taylor strolled over for a routine try, again converted by Paterson. 19 - 3.

On the half hour, a series of cameos. First, several languid Di Rollo sidesteps saw the centre ghost through a series of would-be tacklers; then an impish Godman twirl, a Laney break and well-judged flip almost saw the skipper over. But the bonus point wasn't long in coming. Edinburgh lost their throw in at an attacking lineout, but no-one had gathered the Dragon palm. The alert Ali Hogg at openside gathered and cruised over for the easy try, again converted by Paterson. 26 - 3 at the break.

The margin was possibly slightly harsh on Newport, who had looked pretty enterprising at times themselves, but the game was over.

The second period started off very much in the same vein, with Hogg coming close two minutes in. Then a fabulous Godman break on half way flummoxed the defence. He made good ground to the 22, then flipped out of the tackle to Paterson. The winger had men to beat, but danced his way past them for another great try, converted by himself. 33-3

As the rain began to pour, and the coaches rang the changes, the game lost momentum a little. The Gunners were content to have some fun, running ball from their own line frequently, trying the impossible pass. But amid the fun was steel. Their pack dominated a good Newport eight in the scrummage, and their defence was rock solid. If they can play like this in Limerick, who's to say that they can't come away with a win for a home tie in the Celtic Cup?

MAN OF THE MATCH:

A fiendishly difficult selection this evening, as every one of the Edinburgh 22 had an imperious game. In the end, the prize went to all action ANDY KELLY for a barnstorming hour.

SCORERS:

EDINBURGH: Paterson 1T, 4C, Kelly 1T, Webster 1T, Taylor 1T, Hogg 1T

DRAGONS: Sweeney 1P

TEAMS:

EDINBURGH: Hugo; Paterson, Di Rollo, Laney, Webster; Godman, Blair; Jacobsen, Kelly, Smith, Hines, Murray, Blackadder(c), Hogg, Taylor. Replacements: Hall, Dickinson, Kellock, Cross, Lawson, MacDougall, Pyke

DRAGONS: Morgan; Wyatt, Montgomery, Bryant, Breeze; Sweeney, Baber; Black, Jones, Thomas, Gough, Charteris, Ringer, Forster (c), Owen. Replacements: Richards, Snow, Anthony, Sidoli, Oakley, Tuipulotu, Warlow

Referee: Courtney (Ireland)