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EMBRA GIVE CARDIFF THE BLUES

Blues: 10 Edinburgh: 11



The old ones are the best.

Despite a spell playing with 13 men on the park at one stage tonight, Edinburgh came away with their third win at the Arms Park in four years.  Although their away form has been poor over the last season, Embra have, in fact, beaten every Magnersleague side both home and away.  Trips to Wales should therefore hold no fears for them.  And so it proved this evening as Edinburgh notched their fourth straight win in front of a crowd of 6,125.  A try from Andy "Turny" Turnbull together with a second half penalty and dropped goal from playmaker Phil Godman saw the Scots prevail in the battle of the celtic capitals.

Edinburgh now sit in third place in the league, one point behind Leinster, who have a game in hand, and the Blues, who kept their noses in front thanks to the losing bonus point tonight.  With there being less likelihood of the usual post-6 Nations collapse, they should be aiming to finish somewhere on the podium come May.

So poor has the weather been in south Wales of late that three pitch inspections were needed before the game was given the go ahead.  As a result, the surface was atrocious, putting a premium on good positional play and accurate tactical kicking.  The ability to grasp chances when they materialised was also to prove crucial; Edinburgh taking theirs well, notably Godman's winning drop with five minutes left on the clock.  Cardiff, by contrast, persisted in trying to put too much width on the ball, despite having an edge in the set piece.  Ten points were not enough in what was always going to be a tight game.

Both sides handled well and ball retention was relatively good, given the sub-aqua nature of much of proceedings.  A particular feature of the match was the control exerted by the Blair-Godman hinge and the quality of Edinburgh's kicking game.  Once again, veteran Embra watchers were gobsmacked by the continued reliability of the Godman boot.  Either this is a very pleasant dream, or he's been practising a bit.  Long may it continue.

Edinburgh opened the scoring with an alertly taken Turnbull try in the corner on eight minutes, Godman missing the conversion.  Kiwi scrum half Spice had missed touch with a clearance, allowing Cairns to counter for Godman then Webster to put Turnbull in space.

Edinburgh defended Cardiff pressure well.  But after half an hour, de Luca saw yellow, followed four minutes later by Mustchin.  Embra's defensive work was outstanding all game, and they managed to make it through the double power play conceding only a try by opposing skipper Rush.  The Kiwi touched down after Cardiff had won Edinburgh scrum ball, going after the 7 man visiting pack. Macleod's conversion with three minutes before the break made the score 7-5 Blues.

Godman regained the lead for Edinburgh on the hour with a simple penalty for a ruck offence. What sounded like boos rang round the ground shortly afterwards.  It was not sour grapes from Cardiff folk, however. Instead, it was the rapturous welcome accorded by the vocal travelling support to the legendary Hugo, coming on at full back for Ben Cairns.

With Edinburgh keeping the ball in Cardiff territory, the clock was winding down rapidly.  One felt that the home side were pretty much contained, despite their fairly ambitious efforts to move the ball through hands.  But a rare breakthrough, spearheaded by man of the match prop John Yapp's powerful surging run, saw them make good ground upfield.  An Edinburgh offence gave New Zealander Blair a pot at goal, which he converted on 70 minutes. 10-8 Cardiff.

Edinburgh did not panic.  In another sign of the attitudinal change wrought by coach Andy "Growler" Robinson, they stuck to the gameplan and worked their way upfield.  Off slow ball at the breakdown on the Cardiff 22, the ball was shipped back to Godman, standing in the pocket.  While the resulting kick was no oil painting, the ball sailed happily enough through the uprights to give the visitors the lead once again.  Five minutes left.

There was still enough time for a quick glimpse of the old Edinburgh - Hogg inexplicably knocked on the restart under no pressure, giving Cardiff an attacking scrum - before the pack tied things up.  In the last minute, Hamilton gathered well at a lineout on the Edinburgh 22, the pack mauled the ball up the park for a bit, then Mike Blair repeated the triumphant hoofing of the ball into touch that we saw against Glasgow last week.  Referee Clancy duly blew for no-side and another richly deserved win had been secured.

Scorers

Cardiff:  Blair 1P, Macleod 1C, Rush 1T

Edinburgh: Godman 1P 1DG, Turnbull 1T

Blues: Ben Blair; Jamie Roberts, Tom Shanklin, Dafydd Hewitt, Gareth Thomas; Nic Macleod, Jason Spice; John Yapp, Gareth Williams, Gary Powell, Deiniol Jones, Scott Morgan, Maama Molitika, Robin Sowden Taylor, Xavier Rush (capt).
Replacements: Tauf'au Filise, Duane Goodfield, Paul Tito, Mark Lewis, Richie Rees, Rhys Jones, Tal Selley.

Edinburgh: Ben Cairns; Andrew Turnbull, Nick De Luca, John Houston, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Matt Mustchin, Ben Gissing, Allister Hogg (capt), Ross Rennie, David Callam.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Augusto Allori, Craig Hamilton, Roland Reid, Ben Meyer, David Blair, Hugo.

Referee: Clancy (IRFU).