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Edinburgh Rugby: 30 (17) Newport: 20 (13)

Tonight's Murrayfield match-up was the quintessential game of two halves.  Visiting Newport played some lovely stuff in the first period, their handling excellent, and they engineered a number of decent line breaks.  But the Edinburgh defence was up to the task and the Newporters' territorial domination counted for nothing in the end.  The home side, meanwhile, recovered from a subdued start and scored four tries in the ten minutes either side of the break to run out comfortable bonus point victors. 

Particularly in the light of Glasgow's win over Leinster tonight, one can only look at the recent Reivers and Ospreys defeats and wonder what might have been.  Two wins there would have seen Embra in second place in the league. 

Greig Laidlaw once again had a fine game at scrum half, comprehensively outshining his opposite number, the highly-rated Gareth Cooper.  The latter's only contribution of significance to this game was to make a great breakout, then throw the poor pass that was eventually to lead to Embra's scond try.

Scott Murray appeared in the mood to justify his salary prior to leaving for pastures new with a barnstorming performance in the loose that was reminsicent of Nathan Hines at his best.  Paterson and Cairns looked dangerous in open play, and Matt Dey was marvellously aggressive at 12.

Things started poorly, though, with Ceri Sweeney booting the visitors into a quickfire 6-0 lead after two unnecessary penalties had been conceded.  Paterson clawed three back after the first concerted piece of Edinburgh pressure, with a penalty on 13 minutes.  The Newporters' pack - particularly Andy Hall, for some reason - were putting themselves about a bit, and had the upper hand, with the visitors dominating for the first quarter.

Then Edinburgh dodged the bullet.   A fine bit of work in the Dragon back division saw them carve out a great chance on the left wing, only for a loose pass to end up in touch.  Slowly, Edinburgh began to regain some momentum, and a superb Cairns breakout on the half hour saw Aled Brew pinged for holding on after recovering the youngster's punt forward.  Paterson missed the penalty, though, on a bit of an off night for the skipper with the boot. 

He was to make amends big time two minutes later.  A great Counter by Dey, running at space, saw Paterson jink deep into the enemy 22.  With the referee playing advantage for a cynical Charvis offence at the breakdown just yards from the line, Edinburgh bundled Chris Bentley over for his maiden touchdown, converted by Paterson.  While the lead was undeserved on the balance of play, Charvis' yellow card for the offence was no more than he deserved, and it was a surprise that he proved to be the only visitor to end up in the bin this evening.

Five minutes later, Cooper saw a gap at a defensive ruck and sped deep into the Edinburgh half.  But his speculative pass was guddled, then recovered by Paterson, who jinked through the retreating Newport defence and raced goalwards.  It looked like he had the gas to go himself, but he slung a long pass out to a mystery blur on the left wing, who scorched over for an excellent broken-field try.  The blur in question was Andy "Ned" Kelly, on as an early injury replacement for Dougie Hall.  Ned had a fine game in the loose, and this was not the only time that he took the ball on to good effect.  Paterson's conversion made the score 17-6.

But, as happens far too often, Edinburgh switched off mentally immediately after the score, allowing Aled Brew to score a good try in the left corner off a Newport lineout on half way.  Sweeney's fine conversion took the half time score to 17-13 Embra.

The home side were certainly up for it after the break, with Lucio "Big Hit" Lopez Fleming, the pint-sized Pampas Predator, coming close after a scintillating Edinburgh break.  And try number three was not long in coming.  Off an attacking lineout in the 22, a cute Laidlaw grubber saw double man-of-the-match Dave "DC" Callam rumble over the line for the touchdown on 47 minutes.

Then the game was over on 51 minutes, as more wide open attacking play saw Cairns come close on the left wing.  The ball was spun across the Newport 22, where the back row union took control, Hogg surging through the tackles for another fine score - and the four try bonus point, only Edinburgh's second of the season.   

Veteran stand-off Duncan "Hodgey" Hodge - playing in the unfamiliar position of outside centre, following a Di Rollo injury -  knocked over a penalty on the hour to make the game safe.  Thereafter, Edinburgh took the foot off the gas, and were content to defend for the remainder of the match.  Aside from a Sweeney breakaway try on 66 minutes, they never really looked threatened, as Newport lost their discipline somewhat. 

Edinburgh: Paterson (capt); Dewey,  Di Rollo,  Dey,  Cairns; Godman, Laidlaw; Jacobsen,  Hall, Cross, Bentley, Murray,  Hogg, MacDonald, Callam. Replacements:  Kelly, Dickinson, Pringle, Taylor, Senio, Hodge,  Lopez Fleming

Dragons: Morgan (capt); Wyatt,  Emerick, N Brew, A Brew;  Sweeney, Cooper; Black, Jones,  Corsi, Hall, Charteris, Owen, Charvis, Fitisemanu. Replacements: Daly,  Harrison,  Sidoli,  Ringer,  Fussell, Thomas,Walker.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)