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EMBRA IN TEMPESTUOUS TIE

Newportgwentdragons: 10 (7) Edinburgh: 10 (10)



A superb last ditch tackle by Greig Laidlaw on man of the match Bearman in the dying seconds of this game preserved a draw at Rodney Parade that was a fair reward for both sides on an atrocious evening.  Celtic referees must be made of sterner stuff than their Guiness Premiership counterparts.  While last night's game at Newcastle was cancelled due to high winds, the Dragons and Edinburgh squared off amid a South Walian hurricane that lasted throughout the match. 

Both sides will be disappointed with the advantage they took of the wind.  Edinburgh should have emerged further than three points ahead at half-time, having had wind advantage in the first period and a number of try-scoring opportunities.  Particularly as they were ten points up after ten minutes.  Meanwhile, the Newporters will be disappointed not to have won as they, too, only won the second half by a slim three point margin. 

Both defences were outstanding.  Their handling was also of a high standard in the conditions, particularly as the wind howling across Rodney Parade meant that ball had often to be run out of 22s rather than kicked into touch.  Edinburgh will reflect on some crucial handling errors, such as Roly Reid's knock on in the opening minutes with a try looking certain.  Meanwhile, Newport's fairly eccentric decision-making - spurning a series of kickable penalties with the wind in the second half - will surely have caused home coach Paul Turner some mild bemusement. 

That said, the quality of Edinburgh's forward play in the second half, marshalled very well by the Meyer-Godman hinge, was impressive.  The pack's control up front, combined with the determination of the entire squad not to yield, saw Edinburgh come away from Rodney Parade with two points.  Not a great return, but it certainly keeps them in the title hunt.  Indeed, with Llanelli losing to Ulster and Cardiff beating Munster, Edinburgh, in fifth, are only three points off the second-placed Blues.  They also have a five point cushion over sixth-placed Glasgow.

After Reid, on the wing, came close, Embra took the lead on eight minutes, with a superb solo effort seeing the skipper, Ben Cairns, over for the try, Godman converting.  Godman added a penalty shortly afterwards for a 10-0 lead.

With Edinburgh pinning the Newporters in their 22 for much of proceedings, Andy "Turny" Turnbull and Matt Mustchin probably should have added tries.  However, just after the half hour, the Dragons struck back with a Fussell try off a Smith grubber, replacement stand-off Thomas converting. Godman missed a penalty in stoppage time as the half closed with Edinburgh hanging on to a slim three point lead.  Would it be enough?

Sadly, it was not to be.  In the second half, it was the visitors' turn to be pinned in their own 22, and Thomas' penalty on 56 minutes saw the home side draw level.  Although Edinburgh engineered a few line breaks during the final quarter, both defences were on top.  A draw was a fair result, though it took that outstanding Laidlaw stop to deliver it.

Scorers:

Dragons: Thomas 1P 1C, Fussell 1T

Edinburgh: Godman 1P 1C, Cairns 1T


Dragons: Morgan (c); M Thomas (Emerick 40mins), Gomer-Davies, Smith, Fussell; Sweeney (A Thomas 24), Williams (Evans 70); Gustafson (Robinson 70min), S Jones, L Harrison, A Hall (Jones 54), Sidoli, Bearman, Parks (Ringer 70),Owen.

Edinburgh: MacRae; Turnbull (Houston 62), Cairns (c), N De Luca (Dey 34), Reid; Godman, Meyer (Laidlaw 75); Allori (Kerr 53),Kelly (Lawrie 68), Smith, Mustchin, Gissing (Hamilton 53), MacDonald, Rennie, Callam (Cross 61).