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BRADBURY STARS IN BONUS POINT WIN

Edinburgh: 34 (14) Dragons: 17 (17)



With Edinburgh legend Richie Rees on Premier Sports' commentary and Big Gav Henson poised to make an impact off the bench, all that was needed to make my night complete at BT Murrayfield was The Stovenator, Jason Tovey, appearing in a Dragons shirt to pull the strings.

Sadly, that was not to be.  And the Newporters' performance itself, while courageous and at times creative, also lacked that little final touch that would have made all the difference.  After holding a narrow lead at the break, snaffling a couple of good tries and competing well at the breakdown for an hour, eventually the pressure that the Embramen had exerted on the visitors told. 

In the end, the Gunners scored five tries to take the bonus point in what turned out to be a comfortable 34-17 victory.  They dominated possession 67% to 33% and field position 70% to 30%.  In both respects, after a half-time rollocking from Richard 'Cockers' Cockerill, the Embramen ramped up their advantage in the second period. The Welshmen made 179 tackles and missed 33 and were out on their feet during a final quarter when Edinburgh scored three tries in a second half shutout.

It was an erratic and slightly rusty home performance.  At times in the first half, it looked like they would blow the Dragons away, yet things didn't quite click in attack.  But when they got their box kicking game going in the second, it proved to be a devastating weapon.  So often, the kick chase was led by Man of the Match 'Maggie' Bradbury and one felt that Dragon full back Jordan Williams will be having nightmares for weeks about the big Argyll man bearing down on him as he fielded the Pyrgos kick.  It was a triumphant return from a long spell on the sidelines and Bradbury seems to have added even more power to his game during his layoff.  He will undoubtedly start for Scotland against France next weekend.

Another who has an outside chance of making the national squad, Jimmy Johnstone, scored two good tries in the first period.  After barely touching the ball, Duhan van der Merwe scored a brace of his own in the last 15 minutes.  In between those two, 'Mr Darcy' Graham got through a power of work and was unlucky not to score himself chasing a smart van der Walt kick in the in-goal area.  

The five league points saw Edinburgh inch slightly further ahead of Ulster in second place in Conference B as four clubs fight it out for two playoff slots.  The matches to come against Benetton and Ulster are going to be crucial in deciding the Gunners' playoff hopes.

The Embramen were ahead early, Johnstone scoring his first on 7 minutes.  It came off a fine run from the perennially underrated Chris Dean, who sliced through the defence running a great line deep into the enemy 22.  The ball was recycled several times and shipped across field for the former Sevens international to step back inside and dance his way through three tackles to touch down.  In the early stages, there was real pace about how the Gunners were moving the ball in attack.

Newport hit back almost immediately.  Williams sparked an attack against an outnumbered home defensive line.  The Dragons' backs committed their men before passing in textbook fashion to open the gap for Tyler Morgan to nip over in the corner for a great score, well converted by Lewis.

The quickfire scoring continued as Johnstone notched a peach off scrum ball.  van der Walt passed inside to Graham, coming off his wing.  The tiny man with the massive heart made good ground before feeding Johnstone to put the outside centre cruising over on 15 minutes.  14-7 Edinburgh and one felt they might have steadied the ship.

But a great read by Morgan, rushing up in defence to intercept an Edinburgh pass, saw him cross from distance to level the scores on 18 minutes and this looked like it was going to be a real shoot out.  It was a gamble that paid off.  Had he missed the intercept, it looked like the Gunners were well placed to score themselves.

Aside from the Lewis penalty that gave the visitors a slender lead at the break, the second quarter was a story of Edinburgh pressure against stout Newport defence, with Griffiths and Keddie doing a fine job at the breakdown.

After the break, on 55 minutes, Edinburgh drew level with a van der Walt penalty and the momentum shifted decisively their way going into the final quarter as the Dragons tired.

Firstly, Bradbury bulldozed over after a number of close-in drives to put the Gunners 24-17 up on 63 minutes.  Five minutes later, van der Merwe secured the bonus with a great individual score.  Taking Dean's pass on halfway, he sprinted up the touchline.  Rosser tackled him but he was not held and alertly regained his feet then beat another couple of defenders for the score to put the match out of reach of the visitors.

The Beast From The East applied the coup de grace on 78 minutes.  After van der Walt had had a speculative dropped goal attempt dropped, Dougie Fife took the ball on, drew his man and put the winger over in the corner for a  34-17 margin at no-side.

 

GUNNERS SUCKERED BY THE ROPE-A-DOPE

Southern Kings: 25 (13) Edinburgh: 7 (21)

Early in the first half, you could just see this one coming.  In the South African heat, Edinburgh looked like they were playing a training match.  There was a lethargy, a lack of both intensity and accuracy in their attacking play, that did not bode well.  It was shaping up to be a classic international window catastrophe.  All the elements were there.  An away trip against a weaker side immediately following a European triumph.  Young understudies underperforming under pressure; experienced heads failing to take control.

The Gunners pummelled the Kings throughout, totally controlling both territory and possession in both halves.  There were plenty of dominant scrums - this week, The Greatest Schoeman dispatched his first tighthead after only 20 minutes.  Yet the brave South Africans took punch after punch and, through a couple of moments of magic from inspired Fijian replacement Rokoua, came back from the dead to overturn an eight point

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#LOVINTHESCRUMMIN

Edinburgh: 19 (9) Montpellier Hérault Rugby: 7 (10)

A record for a Heineken pool match of 11,802 scrum fans descended on BT Murrayfield this evening to watch Edinburgh's front row crush their oppositve numbers, laying the foundations for the Gunners' fifth win of the pool.

WP Nel won man of the Match, 'Rambo' McInally comprehensively bested the great Bismarck du Plessis and The Greatest Schoeman chewed up Jannie du Plessis so badly that the former Springbok was hooked after only half an hour.  When the trio were replaced en masse on 70 minutes, they left a trail of devastation behind them.  

There is something beautiful about a dominant scrummage.   It's about rugby's traditional values, about winning the physical confrontation and crushing the enemy psychologically.  I would have been very happy watching these guys scrum all night.

As it was, there were a fair number of set pieces as the visitors' handling frequently let them down.  While JP Doyle is a whistler who is not the most enthusiastic

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