Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh
Edinburgh Rugby were unable to build on a positive first-half performance as they suffered a 34-16 defeat at the hands of an impressive Cardiff Blues outfit in the opening fixture of the 2016/17 Guinness PRO12 season.
Solomons side trailed by only four points at the break, yet a clinical second-half display from the home-side saw them open up a deficit which Edinburgh were unable to close on a wet and windy night in the Welsh capital.
Duncan Weir, who made his move to the club in the summer, scored 11 points from the tee while centre Junior Rasolea, also making his first competitive appearance in the black and red, dotted down for Edinburgh’s try.
Head Coach Alan Solomons said: “The big thing in this game was they [Cardiff Blues] dominated territory and possession, and you can’t play if you don’t have the ball.
“In the first-half we kicked away too much ball and they dominated aerially all night, which resulted in balls being turned over, and in the second-half we paid the price for our errors.
“We know we’ve got to pick it up, but it’s very early in the season. We’ve now got to look at the areas we need to improve – the likes of aerial skills and counter-attacking – and I’ve got no doubt the team will be much better next week having had this game”.
Weir put Edinburgh on the board first with a penalty goal in the second minute.
Blues gave a quick-fire response when Weir’s opposite number, Steve Shingler, who proved pivotal to the home side’s success with a personal tally of 15 points, sidled through a gap in the defence to cruise in under the posts, before duly adding the extras from the tee (7-3).
Following a period of persistent pressure on the Cardiff line, Rasolea responded in the 15th minute when he hit a short line of the ruck to cross the whitewash untouched.
Weir chipped over the conversion to put Edinburgh 10-7 ahead, before stretching the lead further with a monstrous strike from over 50 metres to open up a six-point gap as the game entered the second quarter.
Shingler closed the gap to three-points with a penalty on the half-hour mark, before his side regained the lead as referee John Lacey awarded the home side with a penalty try for a maul infringement, to which Jamie Ritchie was named as the culprit and shown a yellow card.
Shingler’s conversion gave the home side a 17-13 lead as the break approached.
Weir had two difficult, long-range penalty attempts prior the interval, yet both brushed by the uprights.
Half-time: Cardiff Blues 17 v 13 Edinburgh Rugby
Weir and Shingler exchanged penalties in the opening five minutes of the half, before Stuart McInally and Ben Toolis entered the fray for Ross Ford and Fraser McKenzie (20-16).
As the gale and the accompanying rain picked up, Cardiff mounted a late surge in the closing quarter with back-row Nick Williams crossing on 60 minutes, before scrum-half Tomos Williams followed suit 10 minutes later as he sniped around the fringes to scoot over the whitewash from close range.
Replacement Gareth Anscombe converted both scores, with his conversion of Williams’ try proving the last scoring act of the game.
Full-time: Cardiff Blues 34 v 16 Edinburgh Rugby
Substitutes: Stuart McInally (for Ford, 51’), Jack Cosgrove (for Sutherland, 57’), Simon Berghan (for Nel 61’, reversed 77’) Ben Toolis (for McKenzie, 51’), Magnus Bradbury (for Manu, 32’), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (for Fowles, 57’), Blair Kinghorn (for Bryce, 76’), Chris Dean (for Tofilau, 67’)