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SO FAREWELL THEN ...

Edinburgh Rugby: 44 (23) Benetton Treviso: 21 (7)



Several weeks ago, Harry Eyres' column in the FT, which usually explores renaissance art or the finer points of philosophy, took instead a rather elegaic look at the demise of the artist in modern sport.  Barcelona's Lionel Messi, he argued, is an increasingly rare example of the tricky wee guy who can outwit the bludgeons of the power game.  In women's tennis, the sheer power of the Williams sisters too often prevails over finesse.  In rugby, he argued that the last true heir of Edwards, John and JPR - Shane Williams - has gone;  Wales won their grand slam this season with a back division made up of dreadnoughts, from the massive Mike Phillips all the way out.

That column came to mind again at Murrayfield this evening, as Chris Paterson made his final appearance for Edinburgh before retirement.  The most gifted Scottish footballer of his generation, the slight Gala man amassed 109 caps and 809 points for his country.  Because of his versatility, he was shunted around the back division for club and country.  While one will always wonder what he might have achieved had he been played consistently at 10, he was outstanding wherever he played.  He was feared by opponents, both with ball in hand and as one of the world's most accurate placekickers.  And his cover tackling at fullback was exemplary - his amazing try saving tackle on Ben Foden in the 2011 6 Nations will live long in the memory.  Most important of all, though, was that he did everything with quiet integrity and professionalism.  An intelligent observer of the game, he looks to have all the tools to be a fine coach and mentor.  Happily, that looks like the road he is now taking.

But Mossy was not the only Embra man to take his final bow tonight.  Some great servants of the club played their last match in the black and red as the Gunners prevailed comfortably over Treviso, 44-21.  And they all made contributions.  On his 150th appearance, Phil Godman, whose last second dropped goal in Paris did so much to win the Heineken pool this year, created the fourth try of the evening, for Tim Visser.  Alan MacDonald came close to scoring a try on his 99th appearance, but set up Kyle Traynor to rumble over.  Although the result mattered not a jot in the league standings, it mattered a great deal both to the squad and the supporters.  The Embra men were destined to prevail comfortably and duly did so in an open game that served up eight tries.  True to their form in the Rabo, they scored some absolute crackers, yet managed to give away some real howlers too.

Statutory Matt Scott Tribute Paragraph:  perhaps with one eye on his impending finals at the best law school in the country, the great man was slightly outshone tonight by his centre partner Nick de Luca, who made a number of fantastic breaks.  But all of the backs looked dangerous with ball in hand and had plenty of quick ball to work with.  Had the lineout been a bit less of a disaster, they would easily have passed the half century. 

Laidlaw put the home side ahead on three minutes with a penalty.  Both sides showed ambition in the early stages, but the execution was often poor.  Then on 13 minutes, Tom 'Schooldays' Brown went close on the right, the ball was shipped back, then whipped out to Denton after some quick close in drives.  The young economist crashed through the defence for the first touchdown of the match, converted by Laidlaw. 

Although Edinburgh were at times guilty of playing the game a bit too much in front of the enemy, Laidlaw put them further ahead with another three pointer at the end of the first quarter as Treviso's penalty count mounted. 

With the penalties mounting up, Zanni was carded on 29 minutes and Edinburgh kicked to the corner.  Although Visser crossed, the final pass was adjudged forward.  No matter, as shortly afterwards the pressure told, Laidlaw cutting in off a Leck pass to cross untouched under the post, converting his own try for a comfortable 20-0 lead.

Edinburgh then lost concentration, allowing Treviso to work the ball into their 22 for Benvenuti to score, Burton converting.  But the visitors were penalised at the restart, Laidlaw's third penalty making the score at the break 23-7 Edinburgh.

Early in the second period, de Luca sparked a thrilling breakout, racing beyond the Treviso ten with only the full back to beat.  He committed the man then gave to Visser, only for the covering Williams to knock the ball forward deliberately.  The Australian full back can have had no complaints - although he did express a few - when he was carded.  But another awful lineout in an attacking position allowed Treviso to clear.  Indeed, it was the short-handed Italians who were next on the board, Nitoglia scooted round the side of a collapsed maul to go over untouched.  23-14 with half an hour to go.

A fairytale moment almost came shortly afterwards, with a Visser break putting Paterson in space, but he couldn't quite take his own chip ahead with the crowd urging him on. He didn't have to wait long for his farewell try to come, though.  With the Treviso defence coming up quickly, Laidlaw chipped behind and into the in-goal area with Mossy and Visser in hot pursuit.  The winger resisted the temptation to touch down, enabling Chris to do so to rapturous applause.  Not a dry eye in the house.

Gori pulled a try back just before the hour as the Edinburgh scrummage, with a new front row, was shunted back alarmingly.  However, the game was made safe on 68 minutes as Godman, in heavy traffic, flipped an inside pass to Visser running an excellent line.  The big winger surged over untouched for his fourteenth try of the Rabo season.

Kyle Traynor wrapped things up on 75 minutes, crossing after some close in forward drives.  Laidlaw's conversion was the final score of the match, leaving the squad to say their farewells to the Embra tifosi after an extraordinary season.  They have made history in the Heineken and look hungry for more.  There will be a number of changes over the summer, but Edinburgh Rugby looks well placed both on and off the field to kick on from the progress made this season to greater things in future.  Tonight was a chance to thank many who have helped to get the club this far and who will be moving on to new challenges.  For Man of the Match Mossy, though, it was his last match - and his last post-match wave to the crowd - as a professional.

And with that, he was gone.

 

MAN OF THE MATCH: CHRIS PATERSON

SCORERS:

Edinburgh Rugby: Laidlaw 1T 5C 3P, Denton 1T, Paterson 1T, Traynor 1T, Visser 1T

Benetton Tereviso:  Burton 3C, Benvenuti 1T, Nitoglia 1T, Gori 1T

TEAMS:

Edinburgh: Paterson, T. Brown, De Luca, Scott, T. Visser, Laidlaw, Leck, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Gilchrist, Cox, Denton, Rennie, Grant. Replacements: Leonard for Paterson (78), Godman for Leck (67), Traynor for Jacobsen (67), Kelly for Ford (67), S. Turnbull for Cox (50), MacDonald for Denton (53). Not Used: Gilding, Black. Benetton

Treviso: McLean, Gori, Benvenuti, Sgarbi, Nitoglia, Burton, Semenzato, Rizzo, Sbaraglini, Rouyet, Bernabo, van Zyl, Minto, Zanni, Barbieri. Replacements: Padro for McLean (65), Williams for Gori (43), Cittadini for Rouyet (43), Iannone for Barbieri (65). Not Used: Ceccato, Muccignat, Filippucci, Picone. Sin Bin: Zanni (30), Williams (47).

Att: 2,855

Ref: Patton (IRFU).