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GUNNERS CRASH IN CAPITAL CLASH

Edinburgh: 14 (11) Cardiff: 21 (6)



Wales has for many years had an extraordinary production line, churning out quality No 10s.  Time was when they had the same sort of arrangement for front row forwards too. Meanwhile, Scotland has a long tradition of quality back rows and feisty little scrum halves, many of whom have been named Laidlaw.  And rounding off this tour of the Celtic nations, what about Ireland?  Well, on this evening's evidence, their increasingly long line of whistlers who are just not up to the demands of professional rugby just grows and grows.  But sadly, even had Jim Fleming or the saintly Clive Norling donned the green jersey in place of 'Mary-Beth' Lacey, Embra would still have suffered a depressing defeat.

Cardiff were more accurate, retained possession better and played the whistler far more intelligently than the Gunners.  They played smart rugby throughout and snuffed out the home challenge once Leigh Halfpenny had kicked them into the lead in the second period.  It took seven penalties to do it, though, and while they had a few boshes around the enemy tryline from time to time, they did not have much of a cutting edge, the bludgeoning Jamie Roberts apart.

This was a bit of a nothing game for Edinburgh so individual performances were probably of more interest to many observers.  While Chris Paterson pulled the strings pretty well at 10 - when he wasn't being treated for yet another injury as Cardiff targeted him - tonight's two maiden starters, Lewis Niven on the tighthead and Dave 'Big Hair' Denton, really impressed.  As, once again, did James King, who played much of the game having replaced Simon Webster, who retired with a head knock early on.

Edinburgh made a fair number of line breaks during proceedings, with Lee Jones' elusiveness a thorn in the Cardiff flesh.  But the repeated failure to get men on the ball carrier's shoulder meant that the offloads that could have unlocked the enemy defence just didn't come.

Cardiff were on the board early, a Parks penalty after a minute putting them three points to the good.  Meanwhile, Edinburgh knocked a kickable penalty to touch shortly afterwards.  A commendably positive attitude.  But, as so often this evening, they then managed to get turned over at the breakdown and the chance was lost.   Paterson did manage to level things up on 10 minutes, with the touch judge calling a clear high tackle on Webster that left the returning winger needing treatment.

Although Edinburgh were competing well at the breakdown, Cardiff were next on the board, with the first of Halfpenny's long pots at goal.  Mossy missed shortly afterwards after Cardiff had received a warning from the referee for repeated infringements.

Then, on 28 minutes, the ball was shifted quickly right where King saw a vacant space behind the defence and dinked the ball through.  Jim Thompson came close before Ben 'Cairnsy' Cairns took advantage of the spooked defence to dive on the ball for the unconverted try. Mossy finished the half with another penalty for an 11-6 lead.  The game had yet to spark, but there had been some decent Embra moments.

Schoolboy stuff from the opening kick off of the second period, Embra giving away another penalty chance, which Dan Parks - who was having one of his less reliable days with the boot - managed to knock over.  Although Mossy replied in kind three minutes later, Cardiff looked like they were beginning to take control.  The Edinburgh defence continued to hold firm, though.

After heroic home defending of a series of repeated short and mid-range charges on their tryline, three Cardiff penalties in the replacement zone (between 55 and 65 minutes) were to determine the result.  Cardiff were 18-14 ahead and the last penalty came after MacDonald was carded for a ruck offence.  A final Halfpenny penalty with seven minutes left on the clock made sure.  And although some Cardiff guy was carded for a breakdown offence late on, that was it.

So, another Heineken campaign, another failure.  And that without even the consolation of a Glasgow-Toulouse-style upset.  Edinburgh finish with a mere one victory.  That is just not good enough.

MAN OF THE MATCH: In a pretty turgid match, LEIGH HALFPENNY seems to have secured the award for booting over a couple of impressively long penalties.  He didn't do much else of note.  But then again, who did?

SCORERS:

Edinburgh: Paterson 3P, Cairns 1T

Cardiff: Parks 2P, Halfpenny 5P

TEAMS:

Edinburgh: J Thompson; L Jones, B Cairns, N De Luca, S Webster; C Paterson, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford, L Niven, S MacLeod, E Lozada, D Denton, R Grant (capt), A MacDonald Replacements: K Traynor, G Cross, D Young, F McKenzie, S McInally, G Laidlaw, R Samson, J King

Cardiff Blues: C Czekaj; L Halfpenny, C Laulala, J Roberts, R Mustoe; D Parks, T Slater; J Yapp, T Rhys Thomas, S Andrews, D Jones, P Tito (captain), A Pretorius, M Molitika, M Williams Replacements: G Williams, F Filise, S Hobbs, B Davies, B White, C Sweeney, D Hewitt, T James

Ref: M-B Lacey (IRFU)