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GUNNERS FALL TO THE UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON

Edinburgh Rugby: 17 (14) Benetton Rugby: 20 (10)



 

Beaten by a pullover.  The shame of it.

When following US College ‘football’ many years ago, one thing always struck me.  Success for the major American universities was not measured by wins and losses.  Instead, what seemed to matter was the margin of victory.  The top teams were expected to hammer lesser lights.  Anything less than a massive shellacking was seen as failure.

 

That led to a ruthless mentality that, in rugby, we see in sides like the All Blacks.  I have just watched New Zealand put eight tries on South Africa in a record 57-0 victory in the Rugby Championship.  They scored eight tries in all and did not let up.  Codie Taylor notched their final touchdown on 79 minutes and they would have kept running up the score all night, given the chance.

 

When they were 17-0 up on 20 minutes, they might have eased up a bit and picked the Springboks off as they began to play catch up.  Instead, like Usain Bolt running through the finishing line, they kept their foot on the gas all the way.  When they have opponents by the throat, they do not let go.

 

Edinburgh were in a similarly cheery position against visiting Benetton Rugby at Myreside last Friday evening.  Two early tries from the increasingly impressive Chris Dean saw them a handy 14-0 to the good on 26 minutes.  They should have kicked on and built a big score against an Italian side who had never won away from home in the competition.

 

Instead, they allowed their visitors to claw their way back into the match to lead 20-14 on 52 minutes.  During proceedings, Benetton had three men binned, two in the final 10 minutes as the Gunners had them under huge pressure deep in their own 22.  Yet Edinburgh did not take advantage, as they should have done.

 

And it was that last 10 minutes that proved crucial.  Benetton had two props carded as they repeatedly buckled under pressure in the scrummage.  Yet the Gunners must have known that a second binned prop was inevitably going to lead to uncontested scrums, as indeed was the case.  If the referee was not going to award a penalty try, which would have been a big call to make, they needed to be smarter.

 

Of course, they should not have found themselves in that position in the first place.

 

‘Jarvis’ Cockers will have read the Riot Act and anything else that came to hand after no-side.  Training this week will be an uncompromising affair.  Yet he will also know that there will be setbacks as he strives to turn Edinburgh into a consistently competitive outfit. 

 

What is important is that the squad learn from the experience and don’t make the same mistakes again. 

 

The next two league fixtures for the Embramen could not be more daunting.  Firstly, a trip to Parc y Scarlets to play the current champions.  That will be followed by a hop over to Dublin to confront Leinster.  The Gunners have traditionally been able to get up for big matches such as these. 

 

On the basis of the Benetton performance, there is certainly much work to do if they are to be remotely competitive.