Edinburgh Rugby said farewell to club legend Allan Jacobsen with a hard-fought victory over Dragons amidst dreadful conditions at Murrayfield this evening.
The visitors made a bright start to the match, with Lions squad member Toby Faletau picking off the base of a scrum before offloading to stand-off Steffan Jones, who scampered away from the covering tackle of Greig Tonks to score.
Tom Prydie added the extras, before Jones himself failed with a long-range attempt as Stevie Scott’s charges struggled to get a foothold in the game early on (0-7).
That all changed through hard carrying from the pack after Harry Leonard’s penalty to touch.
After the pack bulldozed forward to the five metre line and, when the referee indicated a penalty was to come, Leonard brilliantly weighted a cross-kick to Player of the Season, Tonks to score.
Greig Laidlaw added the conversion to level the scores inside the first quarter (7-7).
The home side dominated the following exchanges, with strong carries from Netani Talei on his final Edinburgh Rugby appearance and Nick De Luca gaining valuable inroads.
That pressure was rewarded as a flowing move was rounded off by captain Laidlaw, who snuck over from short-range to give the hosts the lead for the first time.
Laidlaw was off-target with the conversion from out wide (12-7).
That lead was further extended when Talei got on the end of another concerted period of pressure from the hosts, and powered over for the third try of the evening.
Laidlaw had re-adjusted his radar and landed the conversion to make it a 12-point game (19-7).
Tensions rose as the match entered the second quarter, with firstly Andrew Coombs and Sean Cox were sent to the sin bin following an off-the-ball fracas, before Ross Wardle was given time to cool off after a dangerous tackle on Talei.
In the midst of that, Laidlaw added a further three points, extending the lead five minutes before the break (22-7)
Prydie and Laidlaw then exchanged penalities to make for a 15-point gap at the interval.
Laidlaw added another three points shortly after the resumption, and superb work from Jacobsen at the breakdown, was handed a further three-point opportunity from just over 40 metres out, which he landed with aplomb to further extend the lead to a seemingly comfortable 31-10.
However, the balance of the match quickly swung the visitors’ way, courtesy of two quick-fire tries.
Firstly, their other Lions representative Dan Lydiate escaped some wayward tackling to score underneath the posts.
Wales’ youngest internationalist Prydie then capitalised on a loose pass from Nick De Luca, to bolt in from his own 22, unopposed.
Prydie converted both tries and the Newport side were right back in the match with 15 minutes remaining (31-24).
The visitors’ attempts to level the scores were thwarted by impressive defence from the home side, who saw out the remainder of the match inside Dragons’ territory, thanks to clever kicks from Tonks, Laidlaw and replacement scrum-hallf Sean Kennedy.
It was a tense finale but the hosts held on to secure victory, and round off ‘Chunk’ Jacobsen’s professional career with a victory despite the best efforts of their Welsh opponents.
Edinburgh Rugby: Greig Tonks, Dougie Fife, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Harry Leonard, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Jacobsen, Steven Lawrie, Willem Nel, Sean Cox, Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally, Hamish Watson, Netani Talei. Substitutes: George Turner, Robin Hilsop, Geoff Cross for Nel (61'), Perry Parker, Richard McIver, Sean Kennedy for Leonard (64'), Piers Francis for Scott (23'), Tom Brown.
Dragons: Dan Evans, Tom Prydie, Ross Wardle, Lewis Robling, Tonderai Chavhanga, Steffan Jones, Jonathan Evans; Aaron Coundley, Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Buck, Andrew Coombs (c), Rob Sidoli, Dan Lydiate, Nic Cudd, Toby Faletau. Substitutes: Sam Parry for Gustafson (54'), Owen Evans for Choundley (60'), Tim Ryan for Buck (27'), Adam Jones for Sidoli (22'), Ieuan Jones for Faletau (60'), Wayne Evans for J.Evans (68'), Pat Leach for Chavanga (49'), Hallam Amos.