Main RSS Feed Forum RSS Feed


Next Fixture

No Upcoming Fixtures Available

Latest Poll

Caullie Lug 16/17

View Results

Log In

Forgot Password

View Article


Edinburgh Rugby: 29 (16) Munster: 14 (9)

If I'd wanted to see a skinny guy spending two hours with his arms outstretched above his head, I'd have gone along to Scottish Ballet's latest production.  Yet those who braved the searing heat of balmy Murrayfield on Friday evening were treated to the mildly irritating spectacle of visiting scrum half Peter Stringer's usual antics at the breakdown and elsewhere.  Putting pressure on the referee is part of the game nowadays, I suppose, and everyone's at it.  But it is not a particularly edifying sight, either for the many young folk present on the night or, indeed, those who're old enough to know better.

Happily, Edinburgh ran out comfortable winners in this Celtic clash anyway.  Both sides may have been understrength due to World Cup calls, but the likes of Mick O'Driscoll, Stringer and the impressive Lifeimi Mafi know one end of a rugby ball from the other.  It was a good win over a quality side and was delivered with the calm assurance that the national side somewhat lacked as they narrowly exited the New Zealand tourney on Saturday morning.

On a perfect evening for running rugby, both sides' handling was good, but it was the home team that had the more ambition with ball in hand.  By contrast, one felt that Munster overdid the pick and drive by an order of magnitude.  Even 17 points down with just over ten minutes left, they were still grinding out the hard yards up front in the wrong part of the field, when surely the more productive approach would have been to get the ball into Mafi's hands at every opportunity and really test the home defence.  Even when they did look to spread the ball, the line of decoy runners they placed before the ball carier - up to five on one occasion - seemed to put them off their stride rather than sow confusion in the minds of the home defence.  With the exception of a late Barnes try in the corner, the Gunners never really looked like being carved open, albeit there were a few more missed first tackles than one would like to see.

Dave Denton deservedly won the man of the match award.  Not only did he make a number of what are fast becoming his trademark breenges, he also managed to hold on to the ball most of the time.  And it was off one of the young blindside's powerful surges that the first Edinburgh try was scored.  Though under pressure a bit in the scrummage, the pack put in an abrasively effective performance, with Roddy Grant getting through a power of work on the floor, Sean Cox getting in the enemy's faces at every opportunity and Steve 'Stevie' Lawrie a dynamic force in tight and loose.  Overall, the support play was much improved on recent matches and Edinburgh won quicker ball, which in turn allowed them to release their danger men in a bit of space.

Hunter, Scott and Jones particularly stood out among the backs, with Hunter creating the break for the second try with a super piece of skill.  While playing a bit futher from the action than perhaps he'd like, Scott looked dangerous at outside centre, and Lee Jones had a stormer in attack and defence.

Edinburgh were nine points to the good after 15 minutes, having got out of the blocks quickly.  Munster were regularly infringing under pressure and Greig Laidlaw nailed three penalties as a result.

After the sprinting Cox had just been beaten to a hacked on ball in the in-goal area, Edinburgh notched their first touchdown, and it was a beauty.  Denton punched a massive hole in the defence, the ball finding Scott in heavy traffic.  Good feet saw the youngster waltz through the cover to score a fine try, converted by Laidlaw.  Celebrating his 21st birthday in the 21st minute - this kid has great timing.  16-0 and Munster looked in trouble.

Keatley managed to get the visitors on the board after 25 minutes with a penalty forced during a rare period of Munster pressure.  Yet athough they were starting to get into the game now, they were struggling to make anything of it.  Calm Edinburgh defence forced a forgettable Keatley effort at a dropped goal on the half hour when Munster had simply run out of options.

The visiting stand-off did take advantage of two Edinburgh scrummage offences before the break, though, leaving the half-time score 16-9 Embra.  A fair reflection of the match thus far.

After Munster had had a probe from the restart, it was Edinburgh who threatened again.  Off another Denton explosion, Hunter maybe took just the wrong option, with an inside pass to Visser when there were men free outside.  But the Gunners secured a further three points from the attack, Laidlaw kicking a penalty following an enemy infringement at the breakdown.

Better was to come immediately after.  Edinburgh turned over enemy ball in their own 22 after having guddled the restart.  Rather than clear their lines immediately, they shipped the ball quickly left.  Hunter cleverly chipped the defensive line and gathered, surging up the touchline.  He released the supporting Jones, who made good ground before Laidlaw released the steaming Steve Lawrie.  The hooker raced over from distance, Laidlaw converting to leave the score 26-9 Embra with 35 minutes left on the clock.

Often the middle 20 minutes in the second half proves to be where matches are won and lost.  Yet while Munster undoubtedly turned up the heat and enjoyed useful field position for lengthy spells, they could not make pressure count.  On one memorable occasion, Munster scorned a kickable penalty and kicked instead to touch.  But their maul from the ensuing lineout was smashed by the Gunner defence and the danger was cleared.

Going in to the last ten minutes, it looked unlikely that the Irishmen were ever going to cross.  But they were eventually rewarded for their pressure when Barnes dived over in the corner for the unconverted try.  Laidlaw pulled three points back with five minutes left to go with his fifth penalty of the evening and Edinburgh wound down the clock with little difficulty.   

The win leaves Edinburgh still sitting ninth in the league, but next week's away trip is to Llanelli, who are eleventh, with a solitary win to their name so far.  Time to deliver the season's first away victory at a venue that has been a happy hunting ground for Embra sides in the past.

MAN OF THE MATCH: DAVE 'BIG HAIR' DENTON - a big performance from a big man.


Edinburgh: Laidlaw 5P 2C, Lawrie 1T, Scott 1T 

Munster: Keatley 3P Barnes 1T


Edinburgh: J Thompson; L Jones, M Scott, J King, T Visser; G Hunter, G Laidlaw; K Traynor, S Lawrie, L Niven, G Gilchrist, S Cox, D Denton, R Grant, S McInally. Replacements: A Walker, R Hislop, The Beast, E Lozada, H Watson, C Leck, P Godman, T Brown.

Munster: S Deasey; J Murphy, T Gleeson, L Mafi, D Hurley; I Keatly, P Stringer; W du Preez, D Fogarty, J Hayes, D Foley, M O'Driscoll, T O'Donnell, N Ronan, P Butler. Replacements: M Sherry, J Ryan, S Archer, I Nagle, P O'Mahony, D Williams, D Barnes, S Zebo.

Referee: L Hodges (WRU)