Main RSS Feed Forum RSS Feed

Search

Next Fixture

No Upcoming Fixtures Available

Latest Poll

Caullie Lug 16/17




View Results

Log In






Forgot Password

View Article

GREAT TEAMS BEAT GREAT INDIVIDUALS

Edinburgh: 40 (26) RC Toulonnais: 14 (7)



"Sweep the Sheds: Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done."

The first of the fifteen lessons in leadership from the All Blacks, as captured in James Kerr's excellent 'Legacy', available in all good book stores and well worth a read if you haven't already.  Kerr brilliantly explores what it is about the All Blacks' culture that has made them the most successful international sporting team in history.

New Zealand's success is down to many things.  But it is fundamentally the result of a total commitment to the team, no matter how good the individual players may be.

At BT Murrayfield, glancing through the lineups prior to Edinburgh's first home match in the Champions' Cup for five years, I thought that the Gunners' pack had enough to slug it out with visiting RC Toulon's forwards. But when I looked at the visiting backs, it was difficult not to be nervous of what a threequarter line of Tuisova, Fekitoa, Bastareaud and Savea could do with a bit of ball.

Star-studded though Toulon undoubtedly are, the best team won this afternoon.  Whereas the visitors were going through the motions, just did not seem to want to be in Edinburgh at all, the Gunners were totally committed to their goal.  'Bill' Mata rightly secured the Man of the Match award for another outsanding performance in attack and defence.  But he shone because others were doing the unflashy stuff that gave him the platform.

Until replacements rather interrupted the flow in the second half, the Edinburgh pack totally dominated set piece and breakdown. They also showed up to great effect in the loose, the WP/Rambo combination to put the hooker over for his try being one of many highlights. Sometimes they appeared in places they simply had no right to be, particularly Simon 'Ice' Berghan's brilliant cover tackle on Tuisova, after the Fijian international looked certain to cross in the corner.  No world class back gets the better of the Berghanator in the wide channels.

With the old gunslinger, Henry 'Hank' Pyrgos, combining beautifully with today's 10, 'Piet' van der Walt, the Embramen looked dangerous in attack in the first half, in particular, with their back three menacing with ball in hand and second five-eighth Matt Scott running some beautiful lines against the grain to carve open the enemy defence. More and more, The King Blairhorn looks a class above, while 'Mr Darcy' Graham has undoutedly arrived.

The great thing is that, for all the positives from a blue and burnt orange perspective, there is plenty more to work on.  The Gunners showed more accuracy in attack than in any match so far this season.  But a lack of pace in clearing key breakdowns saw a number of gilt-edged chances go abegging, while their discipline at times let them down in the red zone.

There was a bit of that in the first quarter.  Early on, the first of a number of fine breaks by Scott nearly saw a try, but Dell's pass was intercepted by Savea and Edinburgh had to settle for a van der Walt penalty on three minutes. Three minutes later the Gunners were camped on the enemy line but possibly went to the well too often with the forward drives and were pinged for a breakdown offence to allow Toulon to clear.

It really was all Edinburgh, though, with Toulon struggling to get into first gear, and a try came on 14 mkinutes off more forward breenges.  Stuart 'Rambo' McInally was stopped just short, but 'Big' Ben Toolis managed to touch the ball down for the opener.

Yet while the Gunners were dominating, the talent in this Toulon side meant that the first time they attacked, on 21 minutes, they scored a super try.  Great work by Fekitoa sparkes the move that ended with second rower  Taofifenua crashing over to narrow the gap to 10-7 Edinburgh.

The Embramen responded brilliantly, 'Hank' scoring their second on 25 minutes after a number of quickfire phases then a great Scott run.  While the offload to Pyrgos looked a mite forward,the 17-7 advantage was well merited. van der Walt kept the clock ticking over with three more penalties before the break as Toulon were repeatedly pinged for breakdown offences.  Smart, level headed captaincy stretched the gap and piled the psychological pressure on the Toulonnais.  They hadn't seemed up for it at kick off; faced with a 26-7 margin to claw back was unlikely to increase tehir enthiusiasm for the fight.  Edinburgh, meanwhile, were well placed to kick on for the vistory and potentially a try bonus as the French big boppers wilted late on.

Things looked even better from a home perspective shortly after the restart, a speeding Graham burst through the defence, holding a head high pass and setting up a breakdown deep in the Toulon 22, from which WP turned provider for the pirhouetting McInally to dot down the third home try.

Then came a bit of a purple patch for the visitors, insofar as they managed to keep ball and dominate territory for almost 30 minutes.  But they could do nothing useful with it, Berghan's wonder tackle on Tuisova the closest they came.  Ironically, it was when the Gunners were throwing caution to the wind in the final 10 minutes that the French club scored their second. Off a quick tap penalty deep in their own 22, Ikpefan scored a fine breakout try, the conversion narrowing the gap to a still hefty 33-14 on 75 minutes.

The bonus for the Embramen came immediately afterwards.  Deep in his own 22, Trinh-Duc found only replacement Chris Dean, who intercepted the loose pass and crossed for the final try of the match, Hickey's conversion leaving the final score a 40-14 shellacking of the three-time champions.  And it could have been much more than that .

 "Write Your Legacy: This is your time."  The final lesson from Kerr's book.  Sean Lamont's post-match suggestion that the Gunners could be dark horses for the title on the basis of this performance was somewhat overstated, to put it mildly. But qualification for the quarter finals looks distinctly possible now, perhaps even on the back of four straight wins over the remainder of the pool.  The next double header, home and away against Newcastle Falcons in December, will tell us whether or not that is a realistic goal.