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GUNNERS LOSE BATTLE OF THE ALSO RANS

Edinburgh Rugby:16 (6) Cardiff Blues: 17 (14)



Contrary to popular belief, the Inuit people do not have 400 different words for snow.  In fact, they get by with about a dozen.  On the evidence of the season so far, the Embra tifosi must surely have overtaken their northern brethren by coining well in excess of twelve different adjectives to describe the sort of inept, gut-wrenching, embarrassing, laughable, clueless, toe-curlingly abject and generally hopeless catastrophic disaster that has unfolded before a horrified public at Murrayfield this season.  Tonight's was a match against one of the few sides that we have actually managed to beat this term, and at home into the bargain.  A side who are only moderately less hopeless than we are this season, heading up the parade of no-hopers at the foot of the table in seventh place to our ninth.  Yet we still managed to throw it away.  This season cannot end soon enough.

This side looks like it has simply forgotten how to win.  This loss in an eminently winnable encounter was their ninth defeat in a row.  Indeed, Edinburgh increasingly look like a side that has even forgotten how to score the odd try.  The mistakes they are making are the product of an almost total lack of confidence and belief in what they are being told to do.

A gameplan based on repeated close-in forward drives into as many defenders as possible, spiced up with an aimless kicking away of possession in order to give the opposition field position from which they are odds-on to score, is just not working.  Meanwhile, only Zebre and the Newportgwentdragons had conceded more tries than the 36 that Edinburgh had shipped in the Rabo prior to kick off - and there was not much in it - while the 348 points notched against the Gunners in fourteen matches - an average of 25 points a match! - was not much short of the 381 given away by the Italian whipping boys in the basement.   No amount of rueful smiles or 'if onlies' is going to change that hard reality.  Sooner or later, someone somewhere is going to have to accept that playing this game the way it was played in 1913 just is not a recipe for success.  Even during the international periods, there is plenty of talent in this squad if only it were deployed appropriately.  It cost enough to put together.  Where is the return on that investment?

So it was little surprise this week to see the immediate departure of defence coach Billy McGinty and the announcement that Michael Bradley's contract will not be renewed at the end of the season.  And Neil Back's future at the club must surely be in considerable doubt as the SRU high command survey the wreckage of this season.  This was a season when we should have kicked on.  Instead, we caved in.  Yet while there were clearly some changes to business as usual this evening as a result of these personnel moves - the welcome reappearance of promising young 10s Gregor Hunter and Harry Leonard in the matchday squad for one - the result was depressingly familiar.  Meanwhile, a much weakened Glasgow's bonus point hammering of the hapless Dragons in Newport this evening - annihilating their bogey side by a humiliating 60-3 - was a stark illustration of the difference in fortunes of the Scottish sides this term.

The Blues were ahead early, with two penalties after 12 minutes.  It took until the 25th minute for Hunter to get the home side on the board with his first penalty.  Yet again, a trademark lack of discipline on the part of the Gunners gifted Cardiff a penalty immediately afterwards, enabling Patchell to ease the Welsh side six points ahead again. 

Hunter's second three pointer on 34 minutes seemed to have brought Edinburgh back in touch.  But after Lee Jones had looked lively to clear a kick behind, Cardiff notched the first try of the evening through Mike Paterson on 38 minutes, taking advantage of a two man overlap. Edinburgh were down 14-6 at the break, having had a decent amount of field possession and ball, but not having  done a great deal with it.  Cardiff, by contrast, steered well by stand off Patchell, hadn't done much, but had taken their chances.

The second half started brightly for the Embra men, though, Deadly Dougie Fife and Stuart 'Rambo' McInally set the foundation for WP to rumble over from uncharacteristically short range, well converted by Hunter on 49 minutes.  13-14 down and game on going into the final half hour.  And they were playing with a bit more ambition, if not always a great deal of cohesion.  They forced a scrummage penalty on 58 minutes as the power came through. The Embra ultras peered hard through their opera glasses at the unfamiliar individual lining up the kick. It turned out to be replacement Harry Leonard, who had not been seen in the Murrayfield area since winning the Man of the Match award for a performance that even Jonathan Davies had had to acknowledge was match-winning against the Scarlets way back in the mists of time, subsequently disappearing in rugby's equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle.  Leonard duly slotted the kick for a 16-14 lead.

After Edinburgh had had some good pressure in the enemy red zone, they were turned over. Cardiff broke out and nearly scored at the other end.  The Blues were given a penalty chance, though, which Patchell notched on 65 minutes to retake the lead 17-16, which was to prove the final score of the evening.

As the match wound down, a great long pass from Leonard on 75 minutes seemed to have carved open a real chance, but poor handling saw a score go a begging as Brown knocked on the Tonks pass.   A lack of composure, a lack of confidence.  The story of the season, but the Gunners were ending the match on the attack, with the Embra scrum putting the Blues under real pressure in their own 22. They were unable to break down the visitors' defence and sank to yet another disappointing defeat.