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THERE IS HOPE IN HONEST ERROR ...

Edinburgh Rugby: 23 (8) Ospreys: 13 (13)



' ... none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist'.  So said Charles Rennie Macintosh, the eminent architect in putting a fancy spin on what any parent worth his or her salt tells their children.  'You learn from your mistakes.'  Screwing up once isn't a problem.  But if you fail to learn and keep on doing it, then it's a problem.

There has been a lot of learning going on in the Murrayfield area of late, with quite a bit in the first half of this evening's soggy encounter with the Ospreys.  But the Embra men got their act together in the second period, coming back from an 8-13 deficit at the break to run out 23-13 victors, shutting the Ospreys out as they did so.  Sean Cox took the Man of the Match award, appropriately enough, as it was grit and determination that won this one for the home side, exemplified by the talismanic blindside skippering the team tonight.  But he was not the only one.

Gregor Hunter did not have an error-free match at 10, nor did he take the right option every time, but he stroked over six penalties and looked more composed as the match progressed, visibly growing in confidence.  One was again disappointed by the quality of the Gunners' support play, while Richie Rees had a disastrous match, leading to a lack of quick ball much of the time.  But when they clicked, as they did for WP Nel's first half try, there was a reminder that these guys can really play if they put their minds to it.  Perry Parker and Stuart 'Rambo' McInally carried the ball well throughout and there was a solidity about the home defensive work in this battle of the second stringers that has been absent for much of the dismal seven match losing streak.

When they had ball in space, the outside backs looked good at times, but the standout back for me was Dougie Fife in the outside centre berth.  He runs good lines and he runs them hard and with pace.  He can also create, his really fine offload leading to the Nel try.  There is a whiff of the great Alan Tait about him, perhaps, and the Gunners could do worse than a Scott-Fife combination in midfield in time.

It looked like the Gunners had got off to a flyer.  Straight from the opening kick-off, McInally punched through the enemy defence into their 22, but poor support play forced the penalty for holding on in the tackle. And it was another great Rambo breenge that led to the first score.  Sadly, it was his pass to Roddy Grant in the red zone that was superbly intercepted by Fussell.  The Rupert Moon lookalike sprinted clear and it took a fine ankle tap by Rees to stop him beyond halfway.  However, Rees was subsequently penalised for holding on to the ball in touch, preventing the Ospreys from taking a quick lineout in the Edinburgh 22.  Visiting stand-off Morgan booted the Swansea men ahead with his first penalty, on 13 minutes.  Rees again had to look lively shortly afterwards, touching down in goal under pressure after the impressive 12 Spratt had conjured the opportunity.

But it was the home side that was next on the board, Hunter's penalty on 21 minutes after concerted Edinburgh pressure in the enemy 22.  Referee Wilkinson warned Osprey skipper Bearman that there were too many penalties being given away.  Next, on the half hour, Morgan nudged the Ospreys ahead again after Edinburgh had been unlucky to be penalised for not letting go of a tackled man who had not actually hit the ground before Houston had stripped the ball.

That seemed to spark an Embra reaction, though, and at last they attacked with fluency.  Fife did incredibly well, firstly to make good ground through traffic on the right wing, then to offload to the supporting Hunter.  Rees took his half back partner's offload and then put WP 'Eskimo' Nel over for the score, putting Edinburgh 8-6 ahead with half time approaching.

But there was still time for Spratt to create a try for Morgan after Edinburgh had had a defensive clearance charged down.  Morgan converted his own try for a 13-8 lead at the break.  The Ospreys had been the - relatively speaking - better side and deserved to have their noses in front.

Shortly after the restart, one felt that the referee made a decision that proved crucial.  And it looked to me like he got it wrong.  Yapp appeared to slip his binding and take a scrum down.  But the Irish whistler not only penalised Osprey tighthead Williams, but he carded him into the bargain.  Hunter did knock over two penalties during the power play to take the lead, but the visitors - by hook or by crook - managed to limit the damage.

Edinburgh took the lead to a converted try in the key middle quarter of the half through two more Hunter penalties and at times had the Osprey defence scrambling.  But they butchered various overlaps to see some chances go abegging, while the Ospreys saw the penalty count against them ticking up - nine in the second half.  As a result, it was little surprise to see openside Lewis carded on 65 minutes and that was that.  With the clock ticking down, Edinburgh managed to play most of the rugby in the right place - the Osprey half.  And Hunter had the last word, with his sixth and final penalty with time expired. 

This was a long way from being a polished performance, which is unsurprising given that this was a weakened side.  But some signs of fluency started to appear in the second half, while the commitment was undoubtedly there.  The joy on show among the team after the final whistle suggested that they felt they had turned the corner. .