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Gunners Tank Tame Tykes in Tempest

Edinburgh: 37 (27) Leeds: 7 (0)



After several months of blazing sun and general drought-like conditions in the Edinburgh area, it was perhaps inevitable that the first signs of the new rugby season would be partially obscured by a monsoon.  The laws of physics were temporarily disapplied at Murrayfield last night, as the rain even made it as far back as the press box, ordinarily well under cover.  How weird is that?

1100 intrepid souls braved the elements and were rewarded for their faith by an assured and clinical Gunners demolition of a disappointingly limited Leeds team. Edinburgh made light of the atrocious handling conditions with a display of running rugby that saw them score six excellent tries, wrapping up the win before half time.

There was not a sign of rust.  With Henry Edwards giving the starting XV 50 minutes to gel, the Gunners were soon into the groove.  Shortly after the kick off, powerful Edinburgh drives drew the penalty, converted by Paterson on 2 minutes.  A series of handling moves led to a patient Gunner maul, driven over for Murray's first try on 13 minutes.

It was all Edinburgh at this stage, with the Gunners enjoying the lion's share of possession and territory.  Simon Webster's nifty orange gloves saw plenty of the ball, as their owner counterattacked from any part of the field. 

And Webbo was to score the Gunners' second try at the end of a freewheeling move sparked off a scrum on the home 22.  The ball was spun quickly left off first phase for Ben Cairns to make ground.  The youngster flipped to Webster, cutting inside, then was there to take the ball into the enemy 22, where Webster slid over for the score after quick ball was secured at the breakdown.

Indeed, one of the most pleasing aspects of the evening's performance was the quality and speed of ball that Edinburgh won at the breakdown.  The visiting defence wasn't up to much, frankly, but they had no chance against the likes of Webster, Paterson, Cairns and Di Rollo when released in space.

After Rawlinson was carded for foul play at a lineout on the half hour, fine interplay between Hogg and Blair off the back of an attacking scrummage put Ali Strokosch and his aggressive new hairstyle over for try number three.  Stroker had an impressively authoritative  game at blindside in a Jason White-ish sort of way.  Indeed, the back row as a whole was a highly effective unit, with young Ross Rennie very much looking the part at openside.

After Ali Dickinson had nearly done what he does best, namely taking a winger for pace on the outside for the touchdown, Murray went over from short range for his brace, converted by skipper Paterson for a 27-0 half-time lead.

If anything, the rain got even worse in the second half, and the quality suffered a little as a result.  Aside from the madcap antics of Leeds' back three, there was little change from the first period in terms of the pattern of play.  Tuilagi did score a converted try on the hour.  But normal servce was resumed ten minutes later. 

More interplay between Webster and Cairns on the counter from deep set up some great Edinburgh handling.  The ball was whipped across to Dewey on the right, and the big centre surged over for the try in the corner.  Although he retired injured immediately after the score, happily, it seems that the injury is not serious and he will be available to terrify enemy defences as he did early last season.

Ben Cairns deservedly rounded off an impressive performance at full back with the final try of the night, sparked by an alert break by replacement playmaker Duncan Hodge. 

A lot to be pleased with in this performance, with a number of younger fringe players stepping in and performing well.  With Ally Kellock's departure to Glasgow, one still feels that the squad lacks a top flight lock, but the Murray-Mustchin boiler room worked very well. 

This was not an error-free performance, however. Since relegation, Leeds have lost a number of quality players.  They looked like a scratch side last night.  So it will be of some concern that they made a number of clean breaks, which quality sides would have made more of.

Nevertheless, it is always good to see backs wearing eccentric footwear, as it suggests self-confidence and the willingness to attack.  So it was a great pleasure to see so many of the Gunners wearing silver boots this evening.  Even Hodgey went for quite a risqué red pair.

New owners, the Brothers Carruthers will have been very happy not only with the performance, but in the decent crowd for what was, after all, only a pre-season game in peak holiday season, when most Gunners fans are, naturally, off watching opera and suchlike.  Next week's game, away against English champions Sale, will be rather more of a challenge ...

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Murray 2, Webster, Strokosch, Dewey, Cairns. Cons: Paterson 2. Pen: Paterson. Leeds: Try: Tuilagi. Con: Hinton.

Edinburgh: B Cairns; C Paterson (capt), M Di Rollo, R Dewey, S Webster; P Godman, M Blair; D Hewett, D Hall, A Dickinson, M Mustchin, S Murray, A Strokosch, A Hogg, R Rennie. Replacements: A Kelly, C Smith, A Jacobsen, F Pringle, D Callam, A MacDonald, G Laidlaw, D Hodge, M Dey, P Jorgensen.

Leeds: L Hinton; T Biggs, A Tuilagi, L Blackett, R Welding; J Hepworth, Edwards; T McGee, R Rawlinson, M Cusack, P Bouza, S Hooper (capt), J Dunbar, M Lock, M Schusterman. Replacements: J Isaacson, J Parkes, C Noon, R Oakley, S Worrall, J Rauluni, J Holtby.

Referee: P Allan.