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OSPREYS MAULED AT MEGGETLAND

Edinburgh Rugby: 31 (22) Ospreys: 25 (11)



I've missed a few matches recently, primarily due to being submerged under a tidal wave of apologetic letters from financial services providers, at last admitting they'd mis-sold me various products in the past and sending me money.  But no-one was asking for their money back at Meggetland this evening (did you see what I did there?) as the Embramen ran out 31-25 at their temporary home.  The hallowed turf, trod by the boots of many Scottish greats over the years - including, strangely enough, my own - was a mercifully nematode-free environment.  As a result, two sides that wanted to play a bit of rugby duly did so on an ideal night for that sort of thing.

The Gunners edged the try count 3-2, with a brace for standout scrummie 'Larry' Graysonhart and Sam Beard to a brace of his own by visiting winger Hassler.  There was a calmness and a solidity about the way this Embra side went about their business this evening. They were imperious in lineout and solid in the scrummage, while they competed fiercely at the breakdown, the raven haired fans' favourite Roddy Grant putting in an excellent shift, ably supported by his back row buddies Coman and du Preez.  At times, the support play was still not sharp enough, but the Gunners thrived off quick ball when it came.

'Larry' had a fine game and was, for me, the star of the show.  His service to Harry at 10 was slick, while he was a threat ball in hand sniping round the fringes.  Harry himself looked assured in attack and performed well in defence in a back division that is now starting to move the ball from time to time.  And when they do kick, they kick with more purpose.  It's a lot easier on the eye than it was.  Bezuidenhout's goalkicking and touch kicking was largely accurate, while Jack Cuthbert had some storming runs on the wing.

The Ospreys were on the board first, Hassler crossing on 6 minutes, although Biggar missed the conversion.  Gradually, the Edinburgh side came onto a game and the pack sparked their first score.  They took lineout ball at the tail, set up and rumbled a maul from around halfway to deep inside the enemy 22.  As the momentum stalled, Hart nipped over for his first, on12 minutes, Bezuidenhout's conversion giving the home side a lead they would not surrender.  The full back put the Gunners 10-5 up shortly afterwards after the Ospreys had been penalised at scrum time.

Better was to come on 26 minutes, a storming run by winger Jack Cuthbert set up Beard for a try, albeit the conversion was missed,  The Ospreys had clearly arrived thinking that they just needed to take the field and they would win.  They scorned a couple of eminently kickable penalties for the corner early on, looking to take the try bonus.  It was at this point, 15-5 down, that they realised that they were in for a bit of a contest.

Biggar clawed a bit of the margin back on the half hour, a penalty after Cross had been carded for an offence that the resurgent The Planet's Poshest Prop himself seemed to think was probably deserving of yellow.

Usually, it's the short-handed side that comes off worse during the power play.  Not this time, Roddy putting Larry over for his second on 34 minutes, goaled by Bezuidenhout for a 22-8 lead and while Biggar did take the half-time score to 22-11 with his second penalty, the exuberant locals were starting to think that maybe a try bonus win was not out of the question themselves.

After an exchange of penalties in the third period, things started to tighten up on the hour with Hassler crossing for his second try after the TMO had been consulted.  25-22 and game on.

Happily, that was as close as it got.  Bezuidenhout knocked over another two penalties, while Biggar's late penalty secured a bonus for the Welsh side.  It was not quite the bonus that the deflated visitors had been expecting, mind.

So a fine win and a very entertaining match.  Edinburgh remain in eighth spot in the league, four points behind the sixth placed Scarlets in the contest for the best of the rest.  Meanwhile, the Ospreys look to be perched precariously in fourth, four points ahead of Glasgow, but the Scotstoun men have three games in hand over them.

Tonight was a lot of fun.  The all ticket crowd of 3,000 had a good time, cheered on their team raucously and offered Referee Fitzgibbon sage advice pretty much constantly - which, sadly, he seemed unwilling to take.  It was great to be on top of the action and to hear some classic lines delivered from the terracing - 'Did you pay for that haircut?'  being my own favourite jibe of the evening.  A 3,000 capacity just isn't big enough for the Embramen these days, so it's back to Murrayfield next time.  But one hopes that the management are looking at creative ways of finding a new home somewhere that could host the Gunners in time at a sensible cost.