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EMBRA EDGED IN FRANCE

Agen: 19 (13) Edinburgh: 17 (3)



Legendary Oakland Raiders owner, Al Davis, had a simple philosophy, summed up in his motto "Just win, baby."  It was an approach to the game that made his American football team "world champions", as Americans eccentrically tend to dub the winners of their domestic professional sporting leagues; principally as no-one else plays these obscure games. 

Edinburgh showed tremendous guts last night to come back from a 13 point deficit in Agen to lead their hosts as the referee was warming up for the final whistle.  They had competed up front with a side whose forward pedigree includes the likes of Benetton and Benazzi. They had created plenty of chances and were probably the better side.  But they lost.

Amid the excited previews of this season's Heineken have been one or two voices who have urged a rethink of the tournament's format.  It is not fair, goes the argument, that some teams can find themselves with no chance of qualifying after two games.  Yet this misses the point of the world's best club tournament.  If you are not firing on all cylinders from the off, if you have just one bad day at the office, the quality of the teams involved means that you will not be successful.  You cannot afford to miss a chance.  While it would be nice to be proved wrong, one feels that Edinburgh have just missed their chance this season already.

Coach Howells summed up the visitors' problem on the night: "(W)e do need to be more clinical in the attacking zone. We dominated the second half, but perhaps were not clinical enough when it mattered." The loss brought the Embra losing run in away games in this tournament to nine.  Quite simply, if you do not win away in this competition, you will not progress.

Fairly predictably for a French club, Agen's team was rather different from the one that they had submitted to ERC 48 hours prior to the match, with Caucau and Elhorga making miraculous returns.  Tedious as these mind games are - and quite possibly contrary to the ERC rules - Edinburgh have seen this all before many times.

Missing the injured Chris Paterson, Edinburgh were under pressure for the first quarter.  Although the visitors started to put some phases together, it was caucau who came closest to the opening score, a Murray error seeing the flying Fijian knocked into the corner flag.

And Agen opened the scoring on 16 minutes with a close range converted try by hooker Narjissi, followed ten minutes later by a Miquel penalty.  Miquel notched another shortly afterwards, although the visitors were coming more into the game, with Dewey making good ground at times.  they got some reward for their efforst, as Godman notched a penalty before half-time.

The second half made happier viewing for Edinburgh fans.  An early Agen penalty was followed by three more Godman penalties.  With the home side and their support becoming increasingly nervous, the stage was set for Mike Pyke, the Cantering Canuck, to strike what should have been a knockout blow with 5 minutes left on the clock.

Great work from the pack set up Godman.  As the defence came up, the playmaker's superb grubber fell perfectly for the giant Canadian to stretch out and beat the cover for the touchdown in the corner.

But Agen fought back to set up Gelez for the match winner.

Next weekend's game against Leinster at Murrayfield was always going to be a must-win affair for Embra in any case.  But last night's loss makes it all the more important that they secure their first win of the tournament to get their Heineken show back on the road. 


BONUS POINT WATCH:

Edinburgh salvaged a loser's bonus point, which one hopes may prove crucial in what is likely to be a tight group.

SCORERS

Edinburgh: Godman 4P, Pyke 1T

Agen: Miquel 3P 1C, Mignardi 1T, Gelez 1P

TEAMS
Agen: Lafforgue (capt); Ahotaeiloa, Stoltz, Mignardi, Mirande; Gelez, Morlaes; Van Niekerk, Narjissi, Galasso; Badenhorst, Koulemine; Lievremont, Yukes, Soucaze.
Replacements: Tiatia, Guinazu, Culine, Fonua, Carabignac, Miquel, Vainqueur.

Edinburgh: Hugo; Cairns, Di Rollo, Dewey, Webster; Godman, Blair; Jacobsen, Hall, Smith; Mustchin, Murray (capt); Strokosch, Rennie, Callam.
Replacements: Kelly, Dickinson, Pringle, MacDonald, Laidlaw, Hodge, Pyke.