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GUNNERS PREVAIL IN FLAT DISPLAY AGAINST TREVISO

Edinburgh Rugby:28 (10) Benetton Treviso:13 (6)



When the bottom club in the league comes to visit, a win is the only acceptable result.  Particularly when the Embramen boast the best defence in the competition.  With the World Cup having added further unpredictability to the Pro 12 this season, it's currently a dog fight and that looks unlikely to change.  Edinburgh were fourth prior to kick-off, only four points off leaders Llanelli, yet also only five ahead of eighth placed Glasgow.  Win a match and you're a contender; lose one and you're out of a Champions Cup slot for next season.  Bonus points are crucial in this sort of environment and the Gunners must have been looking to wear the visitors down in the first hour to kill the game and go on to secure the try bonus in the final quarter.  That they failed to do so was both disappointing and could come back to bite them at the business end of the season.  Their spirit has seen them do well in securing losing bonuses so far this term; but their lack of sharpness in attack has cost them on the try scoring side.  That's probably a pretty fair reflection of where they are as a team at the moment.

Greig Tonks came in to the first five-eighth slot, in place of Phil Burleigh, suggesting a tight gameplan was on the cards.  They fielded a strong side, with a first choice back row featuring tonight's half-centurian Cornell du Preez. There was also a welcome return to action for Stuart 'Rambo' McInally, starting on the bench this evening following his injury layoff.

They got off to a good start, with du Preez and Scott doing well in the enemy 22 early on before Hoyland scooted down the wing ... but knocked on in the act of scoring.  No matter.  They smashed the Treviso defensive scrummage to win the second scrum penalty from the second set piece of the evening.  After some probing in the 22, they won another penalty in front of the posts and SHC knocked it over on seven minutes for a 3-0 home lead.  It had been all Edinburgh in tight and loose thus far and they were looking well set to hammer a side that had not won for 22 matches.

After the lively Hoyland had been high tackled, Edinburgh had another attacking lineout from the resulting penalty. Toolis (A) won the throw and the pack pounded the tryline before SHC threw an indifferent floated pass wide, du Preez caught and offloaded superbly for Hoyland to cross at last.  By contrast to last week, the Gunners had moved the ball much wider so far and were getting their reward. SHC landed a peach of a conversion from wide out for a 10-0 lead on 14 minutes. 

Ambrosini knocked over a penalty on 17 minutes after the Embramen had infringed at the restart.  Poor discipline and very frustrating for observers.  And after Edinburgh had been pinged at an attacking breakdown, Treviso cleared and enjoyed some field position at last around the end of the first quarter.  As we have come to expect, the Gunners' big D smacked ball carriers backwards relentlessly.  But they eventually coughed up a penalty offside and Ambrosini had another pop at the sticks on 24 minutes.  The successful kick narrowed the gap to 10-6 Embra.

Treviso were enjoying a good spell until SHC found a gap, broke and sprinted lineward.  A great tackle stopped him just short although one felt that, had he realised Dougie Fife was supporting, a second try was certain. But Treviso won a penalty at the resulting scrummage and managed to clear.  The visitors' maul was working pretty well for them and they looked to have steadied the ship somewhat with ten minutes left to run to the break.  

As half-time approached, Allen put Hoyland cantering away on the wing deep into the 22 then Nel took on well.  But a slight lack of accuracy in attack led to a handling error allowing Treviso to clear after Edinburgh were penalised at scrum time.  10-6 at the break as the capital club had rather allowed the intensity to dip after a dominant start, which had given the visitors the chance to keep themselves in the game. No need for the home side to panic yet.  Patience would be repaid in time.

'Big' Blair Kinghorn came on shortly after the restart in place of Jack Cuthbert.  Edinburgh off lineout ball had a bit of joy with Scott making ground at pace, combining well with Allen, and the Gunners made ground quickly.   The Gunners had options playing at pace but a poor Tonks pass saw a strong position go to waste.  They had the consolation of a penalty, though, which SHC knocked over to stretch the lead to 13-6 on 47 minutes.

Hoyland charged down a defensive kick shortly afterwards and Sutherland surged thirty yards but the defence forced the winger into touch.  Another kickable penalty conceded by Treviso in their 22, Sammy slotted the simple three pointer for a 16-6 lead on 50 minutes.  Now time to kick on as the Gunners had noticeably upped the pace. Meanwhile, former Boroughmuir man, the veteran Tom Palmer, came on in the second row for the Italians.

A strong Embra maul off a lineout on the Treviso 10 saw Scott, Allen then Kinghorn running a good line take the ball up well.  Eventually, they forced a penalty and kicked to the corner.  Time for a Hardhorse special.  The attacking lineout was lost, but the Gunners had secured a scrum five to maintain the pressure.  The pack drove forward, Treviso disintegrated and referee Connolly awarded a penalty try.  SHC's conversion made it 23-6 just before the hour. Now all that was left was to notch the try bonus.

Toolis (A) was penalised and carded, having infringed in his own 22.  Treviso crossed in the corner off a five metre lineout through Barbieri on 65 minutes.  Ambrosini's fine conversion effort pulled the gap back to 23-13 Gunners. McLean had to look lively shortly afterwards as Fife chased a cute grubber from Allen in to the Treviso in-goal area. Kinghorn then retired injured after a lively cameo.

Into the final ten minutes, Edinburgh were playing the game in the wrong part of the pitch and the bonus looked to be slipping from their hands.  Indeed, Treviso's maul was still working well and they came close to their own second touchdown, but for a breakdown penalty.  They were defending well too and had not faded as one might have expected.

Late on, the Embramen kicked a penalty to the corner and Ritchie was taken out in the air and Palmer was carded. After the next play, another cynical penalty offence saw a second Treviso yellow as replacement hooker Gega went to the bin.  The Gunners pounded the enemy line repeatedly and eventually put Hoyland over for his brace on the cusp of no-side.  Tonks hit the upright and Edinburgh ran out comfortable 28-13 victors as time expired.

Throughout this match, the Embramen missed numerous opportunities to go for the jugular.  Instead, when they had Treviso on the back foot, they took the foot off the gas.  For a brief few minutes after the win they sat in second place in the league; indeed, had Tonks succeeded with the late extras, they would have been top, just one point ahead of Llanelli on points differential.  But one couldn't help feeling that the emotion of the 1872 double header had taken it out of them and this was a very flat performance.