ROBOCOP RETURNS... BUT EMBRA EDGED
Edinburgh Rugby: 9 (9) Munster:10 (7)
The well-known financial travails of Police Scotland have led to the introduction of various unconventional policing techniques. One of these is the deployment of John 'Robocop' Hardie, who famously completed his rehabilitation from injury recently by apprehending a bad guy.
Judging by a massively thunderous and generally enormous hit that he put in on a hapless Munster ball carrier last Friday night, I'd say the latter day David Leslie is back to normal. And how.
Yet on a pretty dismal winter evening at Mon Repos, the Gunners went down to a narrow 9-10 loss to visiting Munster. Munster did what Munster do, a gameplan that is particularly well suited to nights like these. Their kicking game, while not flawless by any means, kept much of the play in the Edinburgh half and they waited patiently for errors and penalty opportunities.
Perhaps it was the rain, but there didn't seem to me the influx of away fans that I'd expected in the second home match in the MyReside trial. The empty seats in the two temporary stands - which are nonetheless impressive structures - and the surfeit of people on the touchlines suggest that the East side of the ground needs to have its capacity increased somehow. For now, I thought those observers in The Dog Pound in front of the TV gantry were admirably vocal. We could do with a bit more of that sort of thing.
I have invoked the great Jacobsen name when talking about Jack Cosgrove and Murray McCallum in the past. There is little doubt that others will do the same in the not too distant future. Although in propping terms, they are barely out of short trousers, they dominated the Munster front row on Friday. It was a great platform to have in the conditions.
With the lineout also performing fairly well, the Gunners had the foundation to win this one, but they were tactically naive and executed poorly. One hopes that they learn that lesson for the next time.
Edinburgh enjoyed good field position in the opening exchanges, probing around the enemy 22. Jason 'Stovies' Tovey semed to be taken out way off the ball but referee Whitehouse, having viewed the incident on the big screen, saw nothing amiss. The Stovenator did make Munster pay shortly afterwards, knocking over a scrum penalty on eight minutes.
After Edinburgh had threatened through a strong Ray Bradbury run, Munster winger O'Mahony broke and Hoyland did well to touch down a kick ahead in goal. The winger had had to carry the ball over his line and Munster enjoyed a period of pressure in the red zone as a result. The Irishmen worked the phases before an alert inside ball from Kiwi import Bleyendaal to the supporting O'Mahony saw him cross on 16 minutes. That was about the only incisive attacking move of the evening. The conversion put the visitors 7-3 up in the early stages.
The feisty scrum half Williams was carded on 25 minutes for an impressively stupid offence, kicking ball out of Kennedy's hands at a ruck with Edinburgh pressing. The Stovenator duly narrowed the gap with his second penalty of the evening. He added a third on 35 minutes to give the home side a handy 9-7 half time advantage in a tight game.
The second half began with du Preez knocking the restart on, which rather summed up this encounter for the Gunners. They defended stoutly throughout, however, and the match was a stalemate with neither side really threatening. That changed with a Bleyendaal penalty on 68 minutes as the Embramen were penalised at the breakdown
As the clock ticked down, Edinburgh won a penalty which they kicked to around half way. They battered away at the Munster defence, but were gradually forced backwards. Eventually, the visitors were again penalised at the breakdown and Blairhorn had a penalty attempt from inside his own half to snatch the match. The King struck the ball beautifully and it looked like it might just make it. But it fell just short and Munster emerged with a narrow, but deserved, win.