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GAME OF TWO HALVES AT MYRESIDE

Edinburgh: 16 (9) Harlequins: 33 (5)



With the athletics World Championships on at the moment, one recalls the wise words of Linford Christie.  When it came to starting a race, the legendary sprinter's philosophy was always "to go on the 'B' of Bang".  Over the years, Embra have tended not to take that advice, leaving it until too late to get into their stride in the Heineken in particular.  So it has been encouraging to hear such luminaries as Phil 'Godders' Godman recently emphasising how the Gunners are aiming to get off to a flier when the season starts in Cardiff in a couple of weeks' time.

For now, we are in the pre-season phoney war, when coaches look at young players and try different combinations.  At this time, performances are more important than wins.  A good job too, as Embra went down 33-16 to visiting Harlequins at Myreside this afternoon.  Being on the wrong end of a 5-1 try count does not, on the face of it, look like great news.  Yet Embra were comfortably in control of this match throughout the first period, the wheels coming off only after coach Moffat changed over half the side at the break.

The scrummage was consistently catastrophic throughout the 80 minutes though.

Shorn of a number of regulars through injury or rest, the home side started brightly on a beautiful day for running rugby.  A quick Laidlaw tap penalty almost created a score from the off.  Then a fine Easson flip saw Andy 'Turny' Turnbull scooting back against the grain, only to be caught by the scrambling defence.  For the first 15 minutes the play was all in Quins' half, but from Quins' first pressure, they scored a decent try.  The spark was a phenomenal scrummage on half way, which drove Embra back at least 20 yards.  From an ensuing tap penalty, good interplay saw Robson over for the unconverted try.

Edinburgh got back on the attack, but were finding it hard to win quick ball at the breakdown.  Quins were content to give away penalties and two Paterson kicks gave Embra the lead on 26 minutes.  The margin was deserved on the run of play.

Hogg was taking responsibility in a leadership role, and the No 8 had a great breenge off a Robertson counter that came close.  The eager Turnbull also threatened in space on the left.  But Embra still could not quite make the breakthrough.  After Neale Patrick came on for his debut, replacing injured Steve Turnbull, Paterson rounded off the scoring for the half with his third penalty, only to go off himself with a hip injury.

Wholesale changes at the break saw Allan 'Chunk' Jacobsen make a very welcome return from his long term injury.  Meanwhile there were debuts for Tim Visser, The Flying Dutchman, Ross Samson, David Young and Steve Jones.  Understandably, Edinburgh lost a deal of cohesion as a result.  They were never really to recover the fluency of the first period.

Sadly, Samson's first act was to have a clearance kick charged down, which put Embra under pressure deep in their own 22.  With a misfiring Embra scrummage, Quins fancied their chances.  After a spell of stout defence, the visitors took advantage with an Easter try from close range, goaled by Evans.

After Visser had nearly pounced on a Jones kick to the enemy in-goal area, Embra scored their try.  And it was a beauty.  Roddy Grant started the move, his pass to Turnbull putting The Human Hamster away on another arcing run.  The tiny winger spotted John Houston outside him and sent a massive pass to put the centre in space.  Houston beat the cover and rounded for a fine try in the corner, goaled very well by Laidlaw.  And Houston rescued his side from the restart, touching down after another clearance kick had been charged down.

Quins seemed to up the pace a little in the final quarter and had most of the pressure as a result.  Easter scored his second try on the hour to take the lead 19-16.  Poor tackling allowed Tiesi to skip over ten minutes later before another disastrous home scrummaging effort saw Smith just in at the corner.

If you can see beyond the scoreline and the scrummage, there were plenty of positives for Embra.  It was more the lack of quick ball rather than any absence of form among the backs that was the main problem this afternoon.  It was good to see Easson back.  For a while he seemed to be everywhere in attack and defence.  Equally, Robertson looked hungry and Laidlaw seemed to play with more authority than one has seen from him in the past.  Visser did not have too many opportunities to show us what he can do.  One hopes that will change when he and the squad return to his previous employer next Friday.  The away game against Newcastle should see Embra field a side a little closer to their first choice XV.  A decent performance will set them up for the off against the Blues.
 
TEAMS:

Edinburgh: Chris Paterson; Andrew Turnbull, Ben Cairns, Andrew Easson, Mark Robertson, David Blair, Greig Laidlaw, Kyle Traynor, Andrew Kelly, Ryan Grant, Craig Hamilton, Steve Turnbull, Fraser McKenzie, Alan MacDonald, Allister Hogg (c).      
Harlequins: Ross Chisholm; David Strettle, Gonzalo Tiesi, Jordan Turner-Hall, Gonzalo Camacho, Nick Evans, Danny Care; Ceri Jones, Tani Fuga, John Andress, James Percival, George Robson, Chris Robshaw, Neil McMillan, Nick Easter (c).