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Edinburgh Rugby: 9 (3) Neathswansea Ospreys: 13 (10)

The best teams take their chances.  It's as simple as that.  The Ospreys had one chance this evening and took it. Edinburgh had the lion's share of territory and possession but just could not get over the whitewash.  

The losing bonus point was some consolation and they stuck to their task throughout on an horrendous night.  But their execution was just lacking accuracy at the crucial moments.  There was plenty of huffing and puffing, but that incisive edge was not quite there.

Edinburgh looked to play with ball in hand into the driving rain and strong northerly wind early on.  The conditions really were biblical but Duncan Weir TGB was looking frisky throughout.  Despite their meteorological disadvantage, the Gunners were enjoying good field position in the first quarter, with their scrummage looking dominant.  

Pressure was rewarded after the Embra front row smashed their opposite numbers in the scrummage and Weir knocked over a difficult kick in the swirling rain for a 3-0 lead on 16 minutes. Unfortunately, du Preez gave away a penalty for a high tackle on 18 minutes.  The latest Welsh wunderkid, Sam Davies, had no problem with the long effort at goal to level the scores.  A cheap offence and it put the Ospreys on the front foot.

On 20 minutes, Davies broke, shimmied and gave a superb inside pass behind his back to the supporting Matavesi for the centre to canter over.  It was a beautifully conceived and executed score.  All of a sudden it was 10-3 Ospreys, despite the Welshmen not having threatened hitherto.  A big test of the Gunners' resilience.

The visitors dominated territory in much of the second quarter, driven by Davies' intelligent kicking. Edinburgh were competing tigerishly at the breakdown, mind, and turnovers rescued them several times.  After being under the cosh for 20 minutes, SHC cleared the ball into the enemy 22.  With half time approaching, Edinburgh won the ensuing Osprey lineout and the ball was shipped to the other wing.  Damien Hoyland had the ball in space on the wing.  There was a fair bit of traffic in his way but one felt he could have made it had he backed himself.  As it was, he turned inside and was caught.  Edinburgh put in the phases but eventually knocked on.

3-10 down at the break with the wind advantage to come in the second period.  Just a moment of magic from Davies separating the sides.  This one was again finely balanced and the Gunners hadn't imploded yet.

The Embramen started the second half well, putting the Ospreys under pressure around their own 22, albeit the Welshmen looked comfortable in defence.  That said, I can't recall a match when I saw so many back three players committing the cardinal sin of allowing the kicked ball to bounce.

On 37 minutes, Davies had to look lively to gather a cute Blairhorn grubber behind the defence just before Dean got there.  But the Gunners were playing the game in the right place and won a penalty from an Osprey lineout infringement just outside the 22.  I would have taken the three points to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but Weir kicked to the corner.  Toolis took ball from the lineout and the maul sailed towards the line, taken down illegally by the Welsh side.  Ospreys were penalised at the subsequent breakdown.  Weir kicked to the corner again.  This time, Toolis couldn't take the ball and the Gunners gave away the scrum put in, which enabled the visitors to clear well.

You simply have to take these chances.

Again the Embramen built the phases in and around the Ospreys' 22, working their way gradually forward until eventually the ball want into touch in the tackle on the hour.  Edinburgh freshened up the pack with McInally and Carmichael entering the fray.  After the imperious Toolis had again stolen lineout ball, the home side were once again battering away around the Ospreys' 22.  They won a high tackle penalty on 62 minutes and this time, rightly,  went for the posts.  The Duncster made no mistake.  10-6 down with plenty of time to run.

After a lengthy period of aerial kick tennis of the sort normally seen only at Rodney Parade, the Embramen coughed up a lineout penalty on 69 minutes, converted by Davies from distance.  13-6 Ospreys and this match was slipping from Edinburgh's grasp. 

They forced a breakdown penalty on 72 minutes and Weir narrowed the difference to 9-13 with his third penalty. The Gunners were starting to get some go forward, a lovely SHC half break having created the chance.  McInally, in particular, was getting over the gainline taking the ball up.

An Osprey guddle in defence after Hoyland had kicked forward set up yet more Edinburgh phases in the Welsh 22 folllowing great work by Carmichael to secure the ball in the melee.  But eventually the ball was knocked forward on 76 minutes.  It was little surprise to see the Osprey front row finding it difficult to keep their balance at teh ensuing scrum.  

Into injury time, once more Edinburgh put in the phases around the 22, but struggled to penetrate the excellent Osprey defence.  Eventually, they knocked on enabling Man of the Match Davies to kick the ball dead to end the game.





Edinburgh Rugby: 17 (7) Cardiff Blues: 18 (6)

At a damp and windy Mon Repos last night, one team got on the wrong side of referee David Wilkinson from the off, played 20 minutes short-handed, failed to use the significant following wind to their advantage in the first period, went nowhere in attack and at one point in the second half were 17-6 down and almost certainly out.

Yet that same team refused to be beaten.  They dug in and patiently worked themselves back into the match, edging into the lead with eight minutes left.  They then had the smarts and the assurance in defence to close this one out, withstanding repeated phases to come away with a narrow but well deserved victory.

That team was the Cardiff Blues.

There is a certain inevitability about the Embra emotional implosion at the moment.   They have lost their last four PRO12 matches but have picked up three losing bonus points.  Frankly, last night they

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Leinster: 39 (8) Edinburgh Rugby: 10 (3)

The Embramen came into this match at the RDS having secured a losing bonus point in their two previous fixtures, both against Irish provinces.  Was it to be third time lucky?  Well, it was certainly not a narrow loss.  

It was a real shellacking.

It was especially frustrating as they played much of this match with real ambition.  At times, they showed great patience and really stretched the home defence.  But they did not make pressure and possession count when they had it.  For periods in the second half, they switched off mentally and were made to pay.  To concede 31 points in the second half just is not acceptable

Certainly, Leinster were the more weakened through international calls. albeit they could still field a strong starting XV, while keeping my own current favourite home player, the extravagantly named Kiwi Jamison Gibson-Park, on the bench.  The New Zealand Maori proved a key player when he did come on.