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GUNNERS IN CELTIC CATASTROPHE

Edinburgh Rugby: 19 Celtic Warriors: 30



Third quarter lapses cost Edinburgh dear

30 April 2004

"He grew up when meat was cheap", the French will often say when a hefty bloke hoves into view. Clearly, Berwick has been the place to go for competitively-priced butchers if Craig Smith is anything to go by. Along with Chris Paterson, "Biggers" picked up an award after this evening's game for reaching the milestone of 100 appearances for the club in its various guises.

But it was another prop and fellow centurion, Allan Jacobsen, who stole the show tonight with a characteristically dynamic display in the loose. Twice in five minutes, Chunk plundered enemy ball in the Gunners' 22 and gave chase with Hugo after the latter had launched a couple of what have now become his trademark massive clearance kicks. So much space was there downfield for the pacy prop to cover that a herd of wildebeest could clearly be seen, sweeping majestically across the plains, on their way to summer grazing in the Leith Links and Seafield areas. He gave it his best shot, though, outpacing the cover both times, only for the ball to go into touch inside the enemy 22 when a spectacular try was on the cards.

Sadly, despite the front row fireworks, the Gunners went down 30-19 to the Celtic Warriors after conceding two converted tries shortly after half-time. It was a scrappy match, with plenty of handling errors in the cold, damp conditions. But the Warriors could point to some flashes of genius from international scrum-half Cooper and the boot of the great Neil Jenkins, which proved to be the difference between the sides.

Edinburgh were 3-0 up after only two minutes when Ali Warnock converted a slightly fortunate penalty for Warriors' offside. The Gunners used the wind well, with Lee and Hugo putting in several telling touchfinders. But the Warriors looked dangerous at times, coming close to a try on several occasions, only for sloppy handling and solid home defence to deny them.

Shortly after Jacobsen's first end-to-end sprint, Warnock stroked over another penalty after the Warriors had taken down a maul on 30 minutes, then repeated the feat from further out after visiting hands were spotted in a ruck by referee Stanley.

The Gunners' tails were up, and as the half came to a close, another Warriors' infringement on the halfway line saw a quick tap penalty put Dall away down the left wing in space with plenty of support. Sadly, the referee brought play back in order to lecture a Warrior, and Warnock missed the succeeding long pot at goal. 9-0 Gunners at half-time.

After some promising Edinburgh pressure early in the second period, the Warriors scored two clinical tries. First, flanker Molitika sliced through the home defence from the 22 for a fine try under the posts. Immediately afterwards, Cooper saw a gap on the blindside at a scrum on the home ten metre line. He put in a couple of impressive shimmies to beat the cover to score an excellent individual try, Sweeney converting both scores - 9-14.

Edinburgh struck back shortly afterwards after a fine Joiner run had set up a series of phases on the Warriors' 22, Warnock converting a penalty for a high tackle. With the Gunners keeping the pressure on, kicking several kickable penalties to touch for lineouts in the enemy 22, and the Warriors infringing in a number of threatening mauls, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Edinburgh retook the lead. Hogg, indeed, came very close after the ball was spun from the right to the left wing inside the Warriors' 22.

But three Jenkins penalties in ten minutes - the first kickable penalties that the home side had conceded all game - pushed the Warriors to a 23-12 lead with five minutes left, and a Sidoli score on full-time ensured a famous victory for the Warriors.

The Gunners were not finished yet, though, and Jacobsen deservedly grabbed a consolation score in injury time after the Warriors had been penalised four times in the phases leading to the touchdown. The game finished 30-19 to the visitors.

A disappointing result from a slightly stuttering performance. But there is no doubt that the Gunners will be up for the visit of city rivals Glasgow next Friday, 7 May at Meadowbank, kick-off 7.30. Come along to celebrate Edinburgh's groundbreaking season at our last home game, and to see a joint Edinburgh-Glasgow Under 20s side play the Exiles before the main event.

MAN OF THE MATCH: GARETH COOPER, with ALLAN JACOBSEN winning the Supporters' Club prize.

SCORERS:
Edinburgh: Warnock 4P 1C, Jacobsen 1T
Celtic Warriors: Sweeney 2C, Jenkins 3P 1C, Molitika 1T, Cooper 1T, Sidoli 1T

TEAMS:

Edinburgh Rugby: Lee; Webster, Di Rollo, Philip, Huugo; Warnock, Burns: Jacobsen, Kelly, Brannigan, Perrett, Kellock, Blackadder (capt), Hogg, Dall. Replacements: Di Ciacca, Smith, Pike, Strokosch, Lawson, Dickson, Joiner.

Celtic Warriors: Morgan; James, Thomas (capt), Parker, Wyatt; Sweeney, Cooper; G Jenkins, Davies, Horsman, D Jones, Sidoli, Molitika, Bryan, Harris. Replacements: Rees, M Jones, B Cockbain, R Jones, Martens, N Jenkins, Lewis.

Referee: Colin Stanley (Ireland)