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EMBRA BURNED IN WALES

Newport: 21 (18) Edinburgh: 10 (3)



For a few years now, there has been some debate in military circles about whether the UK is still capable of fighting on more than one front at a time.  To do so, not only do you need 'boots on the ground' and the equipment for them to use, but you also have to ensure that your people have enough time to recuperate and train in between tours of duty.  By comparison, professional sport is a trivial matter.  However, the same principles apply.

At the moment, the Scottish professional teams still do not have enough experienced boots on the ground to cope when their internationals are unavailable, given Embra's loss to the Newporters last night and Glasgow's away draw in Galway.  These two sides are, respectively, the poorest in Wales and Ireland.  Both of them are relatively untroubled by international calls.  They have always been difficult fixtures during times such as these, but one had hoped that Edinburgh had developed the depth to be able to cope, with the emergence of a number of new faces during the World Cup period. 

This was, therefore, a deeply disappointing result, particularly with a trip to Galway next up.  The arrival of WP 'Eskimo' Nel next season and the possible signing of Georgian powerhouse Dimitri Basilaia may help, as it is up front where both Newport and Connacht are strongest.  Yet while the experience gained by the likes of the impressive Alun Walker will stand them in good stead in future, folk like try scorer Grant Gilchrist are no longer coltish debutants.  They are battle hardened key performers and one would have liked to have seen much more from the pack as a unit last night.

Although Godman put the Gunners three up early on, that was the closest they came to victory all night.  Future Cardiff Blue Tovey pulled a penalty back despite the Dragons being a man down early following repeated infringements.  Tovey's second on 20 minutes put the Dragons 6-3 up.

With Sean Cox in the bin, Bedford extended the lead with the first try of the night. The Biarritz-bound Nathan Brew, who has been a bit of a thorn in the side for Embra over the years, crossed before the break to put the Newporters comfortably 18-3 ahead.

Gilchrist's pick and drive try on 64 minutes narowed the gap to 21-10 - not insurmountable given recent Embra efforts.  But Newport shut up shop and the Gunners returned home pointless, still clinging on to ninth position on 23 points, although the Newporters have a game in hand.  A difficult trip to face Connacht is coming up next week.  That represents a challenge to the pack to front up and deliver the quality ball to the backs that would deliver a comfortable victory.

While the Rabo playoffs have now receded over the horizon this term, there is a real need to sort out the current malaise.  By the time Toulouse arrive on 7 April, the Gunners will want to have hit form again.  Two straight home matches before then, against Newport and the Scarlets, offer a good chance to do that with the internationals coming back into contention.  But it would be nice if what remains a strong squad were to get back on track before then.  Time to get serious.

SCORERS:

Dragons: Tovey 1C 3P, Bedford 1T, Brew 1T 

Edinburgh: Hunter 1C, Godman 1P, Gilchrist 1T

TEAMS:

Dragons: M Thomas (W Harries 70); A Hughes, A Tuilagi, A Smith (capt, L Robling 61), A Brew; J Tovey, J Bedford; N Williams (P Price 52), S Jones (S Parry 75), N Buck (D Way 60), J Groves, R Sidoli, L Evans (H Ellis 68), D Waters (T Brown 52), G Thomas.

Edinburgh: T Brown; S Visser, M Scott, J Houston (J Thompson 20), T Visser; P Godman (G Hunter 52), C Leck (A Black 68); K Traynor, A Walker (A Kelly 53), J Gilding (U Gamboa 53), G Gilchrist, S Cox, S McInally, R Grant (capt), Netani.

Referee: Calzone (Italy).

Attendance: 5,130.