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JUST ONE MORE CHANCE

Stormers: 28 (10) Edinburgh: 17 (10)



I found it once and tossed it aside

I paid for it with hours of loneliness

I've nothing to hide

I'd bury my pride for...

(mmm-bo-ba-ba-boo)

--- whistling ---

Just one more chance

(mmm-bo-ba-ba-boo)

--- whistling ---

Just one more chance

The great Bing Crosby, of course, in 1931.  Despite a bravura performance from Embra's own 'Bing' Crosbie, among others, this evening in The Cape Town Stadium, it was the Stormers who prevailed in this final URC quarter final match.  In an exciting affair, the men from the Cape had just a bit more accuracy when they had chances.  The Gunners, by contrast, were left wishing they had taken a few more of theirs.  Yet while the Stormers justified their second seeding in the knockout stages and were worth their win, the Embramen showed that they were well worthy of playoff rugby and will take a great deal from the experience.  

'We started a little slowly in each half and gave them a try right at the start of the first and second half.'

- Skipper Grant 'Gilcho' Gilchrist, summing up the difference in this match.

It can feel a bit cliched to witter on about progress made, lessons learned after a match like this.  Edinburgh lost, after all.  But, all the same, this felt like a genuine contest and one still felt like the Gunners might pull a win out of the bag in the final quarter.  'Bing' did indeed have an excellent outing in attack and defence.  Facing two members of the Springboks' front row, the Gunners showed that Cockerill era physicality up front remains as strong as it was as the pack refused to take a step back throughout.  Meanwhile, Emiliano 'The Boff' Boffelli had, erm, an absolute stormer.  Not since Gavin 'Big Gav' Hastings wore the jersey in the old days has an Edinburgh full back been so imperious under the high ball. 'Mr' Darcy Graham, on his 50th outing for the club, wasn't far behind, while there were classy moments from Damien 'The Burgh Barista' Hoyland, Mark 'Benzo' Bennett and The King Blairhorn, all marshalled by the veteran nous of Henry Pyrgos.

The Stormers played with a degree of controlled chaos that created try scoring opportunities in the transition, not least as they edged the breakdown contest.  Player of the Match Evan Roos was a dominant performer, scoring the decisive try in the second half.  But I thought that Deon Fourie was just as influential.  Mannie Libbok's tactical kicking was erratic at times, but that actually proved more dangerous, while the home side's repeated slight delay in giving their passes helped to open up the enemy defence.  

Two incidents, one early one late, really summed up for me why the Gunners didn't win this one.  Firstly, in the second minute, The King snaffled Stormer ball just as it looked like they were going to cross for a try, only to throw a wild pass in an effort to keep ball alive, which Warrick Gellant duly pounced on.  Secondly, late on with the Embramen threatening the home line, Lee-Roy Atalifo took the ball up with no support and was duly pinged for holding on, effectively ending the contest.  In both cases, only a touch more patience would have made all the difference.  That will come with more experience of matches such as this, not least next season's Champions' Cup adventure.

Although The Boff managed to pull back a penalty on eight minutes after the Gunners' early defensive disaster, Libbok's second penalty, on 10 minutes, extended the Stormers' early lead to 10-3 on 10 minutes.  But that was, in a way, a positive for Edinburgh, their having repelled a lineout drive after the Stormers had knocked a penalty into touch five metres out from their line.   

They dug in and fought back well, Big Dave Cherry© evening the scores as he crossed off the back of a maul that rumbled over as the Embramen took on the home side up front.  'Maximus' put in his customary all action performance in a frantic first half.  One feature of the Lions Test matches held in this stadium last year was the early evening humidity coming in on the sea breeze that made handling difficult at times.  That was certainly a problem for both sides throughout this evening.

Just after the half hour, it looked like the Stormers must score, but an outstanding tap tackle by The Boff stopped Gallant just short of the tryline, then 'Mr' Darcy had fans around the stadium swooning as he mopped up the pop pass to clear the danger.  If we're being all technical about it, it looked like there'd been a clear knock on in the build up to the play, but it was a brilliant effort from the back three duo all the same.

I thought I could not love the great Bob Skinstad any more, but I was proved wrong five minutes before the break.  Magnus 'Maggie' Bradbury was carded by referee Murphy for what looked like a supremely physical but legal hit on Evan Roos.  Like me, in commentary the Springbok legend felt that the shot was a penalty only, but you are always taking a risk when you target the upper chest.  The Gunners saw out the remainder of the half comfortably enough, though, and will have felt pleased to be level at the break, despite the Stormers having had the run of play for most of the time.  All to play for in the second.

With time running out on the power play after the resumption of hostilities, the home side scored a cracking try. Well executed passing by Fourie and Senatla committed their men and put Ruhan Nel over for a 17-10 lead on 45 minutes to take advantage of the extra man. Libbok's next penalty, on 51 minutes, opened the gap to 10 points and the Gunners really had to score next to stop the rot.

But it was Roos who got the Stormers on the board again five minutes later after all sorts of handling errors on both sides in the lead up.  It looked like there had been a home knock on immediately before Roos gathered, but in fact Watson had indeed knocked the ball backwards in the tackle.  Although the conversion was unsuccessful, a quickfire 15 point lead built in only 10 minutes was looking very difficult for the Gunners to overcome moving into the final quarter.

The Embramen hit back immediately with a well worked try for Pyrgos under the sticks, created by a fine bullocking run from the impressive Crosbie.  Only eight points down, this one was by no means over yet and Edinburgh then enjoyed a period in the ascendancy.  But though they pressed hard, the only score to come was another penalty from Libbok to leave the final score a hard fought but deserved 28-17 victory for the Stormers.

So that's it for another season.  Now that Covid-related disruption looks to be behind us, next season will be rather more conventional than those we have had of late.  A number of this Edinburgh squad will head to Chile and Argentina on the Scotland tour, which will be a tough, formative experience for the less experienced players, who will progress further.  It is quite something to look back on the season now finished and see how much progress the squad has made in that time.  Mike 'Blade' Blair has completely transformed the way they play rugby and Blair Bingo has broadened the base of players who can do a job at this level.  It is exciting to contemplate what the likes of Muncaster, Boyle, Sykes, Currie and Savala will achieve next season.  Throw in the quality players retained and new ones signed, notably Sam Skinner and Wes Goosen, and Embra Ultras will be thinking that 2022/23 cannot come soon enough.

 

HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER

Edinburgh: 28 (13) Glasgow Warriors: 11 (6)

Perhaps it is because l’Equipe de France were head and shoulders above the competition in the Six Nations this season and are looking handily placed for next year’s World Cup competition that I am going through a bit of a Daft Punk retrospective phase at the moment.  One of their many classic tracks, ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’, seems like a pretty apt description of Les Bleus -  https://open.spotify.com/track/5W3cjX2J3tjhG8zb6u0qHn

 

 

It was also not a bad summation of the reasons why Edinburgh overcame Glasgow at BT Murrayfield yesterday evening in front of a crowd just short of 25,000.  In doing so, there was a whiff of the classic BBC game show ‘Generation Game’ after no-side as the Embramen were submerged

Read More About HARDER, BETTER,

THE BLAIR PITCH PROJECT

Edinburgh:66 (33) Club Athlétique Brive Corrèze Limousin : 3(3)

Edinburgh is home to many annual cultural phenomena.  The most precious of these manifestations is, of course, the rare appearance of @NewTownFlaneur . For a few short weeks, he/she/they brighten our lives with photographic evidence of the everyday lives of New Town residents – their obscenely large 4x4 vehicles, their Waitrose deliveries and, above all, their penchant for wearing red trousers.  These are people whose extravagant rewards must be the result of great talent, who live life with flamboyance and who, frankly, couldn’t care less what observers think of their eccentric attire.

 

The red trouser is a powerful symbol of the proud resident of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

 

The House of Bruar have a sale on at the moment and I duly purchased and proudly wore a pair of red trews to the DAM Health Stadium yesterday

Read More About THE BLAIR