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SECRET OF TIME TRAVEL DISCOVERED IN MEADOWBANK AREA

Edinburgh Rugby: 31 Neath-Swansea Ospreys: 35



Scientific Breakthrough Denies Home Win

12 March 2004

The Irish government's massive investment in research and development paid off in a rather unwelcome way at Meadowbank tonight, with referee Alain Rolland seemingly first stopping, then actually reversing time itself, allowing the Ospreys to score the converted try in the eighth minute of injury time that denied the young Gunners what would have been a well-deserved Celtic League victory.

On five minutes of stoppage time, a clearance to touch by Hugo had home fans clearing their throats and limbering up for a jolly good victory celebration, only for the Irishman to signal play on. After concerted Ospreys pressure and heroic home defence, flanker Richie Pugh crashed over the line for the try that sent the visitors into raptures.

The home crowd were not broken hearted. They were, instead, spectacularly irritated, and the odd bad-tempered harrumph over the unfairness of life in general could be heard before the locals gave the young home team a rousing ovation for what had been another excellent performance. Two bonus points, for scoring four tries and coming within seven points, was better than nothing. But the youngsters will be disappointed that they did not manage to hold on for a valuable five points.

Credit to the Ospreys, though. They played some of the enterprising rugby of which we know they are capable in what was yet another entertaining game of Celtic League rugby between these two sides. They kept going right to the end, overturning a ten point deficit with five minutes of normal time remaining. And they added yet another sartorial accolade to their current mastery of the bouffant hairstyle; namely becoming the proud possessors of the best shod full-back in the League. Gavin Henson - for it was he - sported a spectacularly shiny set of silver shoes; so shiny were they, indeed, that he seemed to be temporarily blinded in the first half, when he was uncharacteristically off target with several kicks at goal.

The Gunners began the game strongly, with skipper Nathan Hines coming close on two minutes after good work by Hall. A lovely break by Dey on half-way released Mike Blair, back from international duty. "Blade" ran out of support on the visitors five metre line, before first Hines then Dall almost made it over. The Gunners were looking sharp, and finding plenty of gaps, particularly around the margins of rucks.

The opening try came shortly afterwards, set up by a super Lee break on halfway. As he did when he eventually got on the park against Italy at the weekend, his pass put his winger away in space, with Hugo crashing over for his third try of the season against the Ospreys. Edinburgh were winning a lot of good, quick ruck ball at this stage, which was setting up their high octane running game.

But a wicked bounce off a cross kick allowed Storey to cross for an unconverted try just before the quarter to bring the score to 7-5 Gunners. The home team were unfazed, though, and spent the rest of the half putting together some fine passages of play, with Hines making several useful runs and Monro getting his backs moving nicely.

But a penalty from danger man Henson - who had kicked the Gunners to death at The Gnoll earlier in the season - took the score to 8-7 Ospreys, then a super angle put Springbok Terblanche in for a second Osprey try just before the half - 15-7 Ospreys. The Gunners had perhaps had the edge in the run of play in the half, but the final pass had just gone astray, or they had been denied by a last-ditch tackle on several occasions.

Edinburgh put matters right immediately after the restart. A massive touchfinder by Hugo was deflected by an Osprey to give the Gunners a lineout on the visitors' 22. The ball was worked from one wing to another before Dougie "The Dingwall Dynamo" Hall showed just why Ross-shire folk are not just highly intelligent, witty, and devilishly handsome (no prizes for guessing where the editorial ancestors hail from), but also classy rugby players, as he found a gap, dodged three tacklers and touched down for a trademark try, Monro converting..

Five minutes later, the Gunners took the lead with a breathtaking solo try by Hugo. With the Ospreys repeatedly pressing on the home tryline, excellent Gunners defence eventually forced a turnover. Throughout the game, the youngsters were alive to the possibilities afforded by quick turnover ball, and this was no exception. The ball was worked swiftly along the line to Super Shug on his own tryline. He took off down the wing. When he reached the enemy 22 he floated a delicate chip ahead, as he had done at The Gnoll, collected and barged over the line for a brilliant score in the left corner. Monro's conversion took the score to 21-15, and all was right with the world.

An exchange of penalties between Henson and Monro took the score to 24-21 Edinburgh before the last 18 minutes of the game began with ten minutes of normal time left. First, super work by Harrison and Hugo in the loose led to a flip to Joiner on the Osprey 22. The situation did not look promising, but the interior design guru spotted a huge gap and scooted over untouched for the try. Monro's conversion made the score 31-21 Gunners - game over, surely?

Sadly, it was not to be. A clever flip off the top of a lineout led to a converted Millward try, then came the continuous Osprey pressure that eventually told as time miraculously stood still.

So another loss for the young Gunners, but they know that it could - and should - have been a win. They have one more game before the big boys return - against Ulster in Belfast in a fortnight's time. If they can defend and scrummage as well as they did tonight, and play Gunners rugby with ball in hand, then they are capable of upsetting the mighty Ulstermen. If you will be passing through town on the way to Lansdowne Road, call Ann at Edinburgh Rugby on 0131 346 5252 for tickets.

VIRGIN TRAINS MAN OF THE MATCH: Hugo, for his two super tries and a fine overall performance.

SCORERS:
Edinburgh: Monro 4C 1P, Hugo 2T, Hall 1T, Joiner 1T
Neath-Swansea: Henson 3C 3P, Pugh 1T, Terblanche 1T, Storey 1T, Millward 1T
TEAMS:

Edinburgh Rugby: Lee, Hugo, Di Rollo, Dey, Joiner, Monro, Blair, McGee, Hall, Mathieson, Hines (Captain), Kellock, Strokosch, Dall, Cross. Subs: Di Ciacca, Cox, Perrett, Harrison, Lawson, Dickson, Clapperton.
Neath-Swansea Ospreys: Durston; Terblanche, Storey, Tiueti, Seveali'I; Connor, A Williams; Evans, B Williams (Captain), Millward, Newman, Tait, Bater, Tandy, Lloyd. Replacements: Wells, Howells, Bonner-Evans, Bateman, Morris, Horgan,: Pugh

Referee: Alain "Stopwatch" Rolland (Ireland)