Edinburgh v Scarlets
A man of the match performance from Duncan Weir ensured that Edinburgh Rugby got their Guinness PRO12 campaign up and running on an error strewn evening at BT Murrayfield tonight (20-9).
The Scottish international stand-off kicked 10 points and was instrumental in both attack and defence as the hosts demonstrated superior management of the conditions to take their first points of the season.
The match was slow out of the blocks and heavy rain prevented either side having any success with ball in hand.
After exchanging kicks the weather forced both teams to play at close quarters and referee Andrew Brace was stringent on discipline, pinging Edinburgh three times at the breakdown in the opening ten minutes.
After missing with his first effort, Rhys Patchell put the Scarlets into a 0-3 lead with a long effort after Edinburgh were once again penalised at the breakdown.
Just as the visitors were taking ascendency at the tackle zone the hosts took control of the set piece, winning two scrums against the head allowing Weir to even the scoreboard with a penalty going over off the post.
Both sides continued to test the referee’s patience and a no arm tackle in defence earnt the Scarlets forward pack a final warning and Weir put the hosts ahead off the resulting penalty.
However, the lead only lasted three minutes and once again Edinburgh were penalised at the breakdown and Patchell evened the scores at 6-6 with another long kick.
Edinburgh’s first try came on the half hour mark with Weir at the heart of it. His perfect chip over the rush defence evaded the fingertips of the diving Liam Williams by millimeters and wing Michael Allen seized the opportunity, hurdling the Welsh full-back to dive on the ball before it rolled dead.
Weir converted from the tightest of angles to make the score 13-6.
John Hardie was replaced by Hamish Watson after a crunching collision with Ken Owens in midfield and moments later Scarlets were down to 14, Jake Ball dismissed for taking a player in the air after several warnings to the Scarlets forward pack.
Edinburgh capitalised immediately. Winger Steff Evans’ flat clearance kick ricochet off the advancing Edinburgh defence straight into the hands of young number eight Magnus Bradbury who showed agility and pace to run score right on half time.
Another successful Weir kick meant the hosts went into the break leading 20-6.
Half-time: Edinburgh 20-6 Scarlets
It was action right from the off at the start of the second period as Bradbury was shown yellow for a dangerous tackle straight from kick off to make it 14 on 14.
Slowly but surely the scrappy fixture became more fluid and Edinburgh were shown their second yellow ten minutes later as Phil Burleigh was dismissed for interfering with play on the ground, though until that point had made quite a remarkable turnover contribution.
On the hour mark Scarlets began to exercise their gifted backline and were it not by a Duncan Weir turnover they may well surely crossed.
Edinburgh’s defence were resilient for huge periods and with just five minutes left the red shirts poured forwards and a desperate tackle from Allen on Steff Evans prevented what looked to be a certain try.
After much deliberation Allen’s challenge was deemed to be high and off the resulting line out the Welsh team’s forwards barged through the defence searching for a losing bonus point, only to be held up over the line.
The victory was Weir’s first in an Edinburgh shirt and speaking after the game he spoke of just how much that meant to him.
He said: “It’s massive getting that first win on the board. It wasn’t pretty but we got the win and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
“It was tough to defend at times, but the boys dug deep and you saw the character there holding them out at the end.
“There was an energy and buzz and it’s good building blocks here at Murrayfield. We can cement that in and look forward to Leinster in next Friday.
“Life here has been good. So far I’ve enjoyed myself and as long as we win here on a Friday night I’m happy.”
Full-time: Edinburgh (20) 20-9 (6) Scarlets
EDINBURGH: 15. Glenn Bryce, 14. Michael Allen, 13. Sasa Tofilau, 12. Phil Burleigh, 11. Tom Brown, 10. Duncan Weir, 9. Nathan Fowles. 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Ross Ford, 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist (c), 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. John Hardie, 8. Magnus Bradbury. SUBSTITUTES: 16. Stuart McInally on for Ford, 17. Allan Dell on for Sutherland, 18. Kevin Bryce, 19. Fraser McKenzie, 20. Hamish Watson on for Hardie, 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22. Blair Kinghorn, 23. Solomoni Roasolea on for Burleigh