Edinburgh Rugby vs London Welsh , Sun, 07/12/2014 - 14:00

Edinburgh Rugby overcame a dogged London Welsh side to secure their third consecutive victory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup at BT Murrayfield. Dominated in the first half and dominant in the second, the home side scored three tries to run out 25-13 victors and stay top of pool four.

The visitors played their part admirably and led 13-6 at half-time thanks to a try from winger Rhys Crane and the boot of former Edinburgh fly-half Gordon Ross.

But Edinburgh – in front of 3213 spectators – produced a stubborn fight-back to ensure they remain firmly in contention for the knock-out stages.

Coach Alan Solomons admitted to half-time nerves with his side down 13-6, but it was the attitude at the start of the second half that made him sure of victory.

“After ten minutes of the second half, I thought they were gone. They couldn’t get out of the 22, couldn’t stop the momentum, they were struggling," said Solomons.

“Half time, we needed to get [things] right, but the start of the second half answered that.”

The home side got off to the perfect start after barely a minute on the clock. Tom Heathcote punished London Welsh for going off their feet with a penalty from the 22 to take an early lead.

However London Welsh were undeterred and steadily battered the Edinburgh defensive line. Looking comfortable in the set piece, a persistent attack allowed the visitors to level the score after eight minutes through a Gordon Ross penalty.

In spite of their difficult Aviva Premiership form, London Welsh produced far more than the home side and took their chance well, after a loose pass from Tom Heathcote was intercepted by Rhys Crane. The winger cruised under the posts for the try after 15 minutes which was converted by Ross to lead 10-3.

Had Ross’ 25th minute chip ahead landed the right way, London Welsh – down to 14 following Crane’s yellow card for a dangerous tackle – might have had another try. As it was, the ex-Edinburgh man slotted another successful kick to extend the lead to seven points with Edinburgh looking vulnerable despite the man advantage. 

Perhaps fortuitously, Edinburgh nearly found a way back into the match on the stroke of half-time – due in part to London Welsh’s indiscipline at the set piece. A lack of precision and impetus in the 22, though, prevented the home side from crossing the line. Heathcote’s penalty miss on 40 minutes kept the score at 6-13.

The home side returned to the pitch with an intensity that had been lacking throughout the opening 40 minutes. Camped in the 22 for the duration of the opening minute, Edinburgh crossed for their first try after a series of pick and goes. Prop Willem Nel snuck through a gaping hole in the visitors’ defence to score the try.

Edinburgh’s desire to turn pressure into points was evident in the persistence to kick for touch. London Welsh were mongrel-like in defence though and latched onto anything they could, in desperation.

But the pressure did pay off late in the game. Dominant in the set piece all evening, Edinburgh turned over the London Welsh scrum five metres out. Replacement fly-half Greig Tonks closed to within a few yards of the line, before a deft offload to Neil Cochrane gave Edinburgh their second try. Hildalgo-Clyne converted from in front of the posts for an 18-13 lead after 65 minutes.

The hosts then exerted their dominance and charged back down the field five minutes later. A weary and diluted London Welsh defence finally capitulated as Rory Sutherland bnarged over from close range for his first try for the club. Hildalgo-Clyne was, again successful with the conversion.

A fourth – and bonus point – try eluded Edinburgh in the end despite great endeavour from Greig Tonks in the final minute. However, head coach Alan Solomons was pleased with his side’s attitude to come back from behind.

“I thought that in the second half, the replacements – especially Neil Cochrane and Rory Sutherland – made a huge difference," said Solomons.

“The disappointing thing was that we left the fourth try out there. Stuart McInally was unlucky to lose the ball over the line, and Tonks just went for broke.

“It’s one of those things, but I’m very pleased with the second half, with the resilience shown."

Team lineups

Edinburgh Rugby
London Welsh

Backs

15
14
13
12
11
10
9

Backs

15 Elliot Kear
14 Rhys Crane
13 Nic Reynolds
12 Alan Awcock
11 Chris Elder
10 Gordon Ross
9 Paul Rpwely

Forwards

Forwards

1 Eddie Aholelei
2 Nathan Vella
3 Ben Cooper
4 Josh McNally
5 Matt Corker
6 Ben West
7 Carl Kirwan
8 Ben Pienaar

Substitutes

Substitutes

16 Nathan Morris
17 Shane Cahill
18 Jack Gilding
19 Daniel Browne
20 Lachlan McCaffrey
21 Rob Lewis
22 Nick Scott
23 Tom May
Attendance: 
3 213
Man of the match: 
Roddy Grant