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Leeds 12 Gunners 7



Duncan Hodge is, apparently, notoriously tight-fisted. During his previous spell with the club, he economised by "borrowing" Edinburgh Rugby's corporate Christmas cards for use in wishing team mates the compliments of the season. This must have been rather galling for Todd Blackadder in particular, given that that year's card featured a photograph of a certain world class Edinburgh forward who had been a distinguished captain of the All Blacks, together with the legend "Festive Toddy". But even as a youthful stand off, this legendary tightness was matched by the ability to win tight games for his side, the most celebrated of which were Scotland A's memorable victory over the touring Springboks at Netherdale, whenever that was, and the 2000 Calcutta Cup game.

After his sojourn in Yorkshire, where he must have felt at home among a people who have the same reputation for fiscal prudence as ourselves, he's back in the Edinburgh squad once more. Leeds nevertheless have a growing Scottish contingent in residence at Headingley, and it was Duncan's old mucker, Gordon Ross, who set up a tight 12-7 home win yesterday afternoon.

We are indebted to Ace Roving Reporter, Jenni Anderson, for her high quality eyewitness account of events. She was among a small, but perfectly formed contingent of Edinburgh fans who made the trip as part of their own pre-season training.

The old Olympian adage "it's not the winning, but the taking part that counts" may not cut much ice during the regular season, but it's very apt in the pre-season. Life in August is all about trying new combinations, seeing whether the youngsters can cope under pressure, and hoping that ill-advised summer haircut will grow out before the telly cameras are switched on in earnest in September.

In all three of these respects, the game was a success for Edinburgh, leaving head coach Frank Hadden well pleased. With twelve players out with a range of injuries - most of which are minor - this was a good loosener against a home side that had already had two away games in France in July under their metaphorical belt.

The youngsters in general showed well, with Ben Cairns and, of the veterans, Mike Blair looking particularly sharp. New signing, Francisco Leonelli settled well and will apparently "prove very popular with the ladies" - no doubt as a result of his jinkiness in attack and solidity in defence ... And Rob Dewey's bleached blonde hairstyle has, mercifully, faded.

In a scoreless, and constantly wet, first half, the focus was mainly on defence, with Edinburgh coping comfortably with everything the Tykes threw at them. Meanwhile, good work between Webster and Kellock saw the Gunners come closest to a score. With the backs perhaps less affected by absences, Paterson, Leonelli and Dewey stood out.

After the Leeds cheerleaders whipped the crowd into a frenzy at half time, as they had done in the Heineken fixture two years ago, the scoring began on 49 minutes, with Parks driven over for the first try, Ross missing the conversion. Then, with the Tykes pack beginning to gain the upper hand, Edinburgh halted a dangerous maul just short, but a long ball from the breakdown saw Snyman over for the converted try five minutes later.

The Gunners hit back with a super Hogg try on 56 minutes after Mike Blair had shown All Black Justin Marshall a clean pair of heels with a fine kick ahead, Hodge goaling with what proved to be the last points of the game.

So a narrow loss, but a good performance in difficult conditions; sound in defence and confident in attack. The build-up continues with a home game against Jason White's Sale Sharks at Murrayfield on Friday evening (19 August), which should see some of yesterday's absentees having a run.

BACKS:

Mike Blair
Ben Cairns
Nick De Luca
Rob Dewey
Matt Dey
Marcus Di Rollo
Phil Godman
Duncan Hodge
Rory Lawson
Francisco Leonelli
Chris Paterson ©
Simon Webster

FORWARDS:

Grant Anderson
Simon Cross
Alasdair Dickinson
Dougie Hall
Dave Hewett
Allister Hogg
Allan Jacobsen
Alastair Kellock
Steven Lawrie
Matt Mustchin
Fergus Pringle
Ross Rennie
Apolosi Satala
Alasdair Strokosch
Steven Turnbull