Quarter-Final - Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues
Edinburgh dropped out of this season’s European Challenge Cup after falling short against a disciplined and well-drilled Cardiff Blues outfit in tonight’s Quarter-Final clash at BT Murrayfield.
After grabbing an early advantage thanks to tries from Ellis Jenkins and Blaine Scully, the visitors never truly looked like letting go of the lead, and despite some late pressure from Edinburgh, it was a case of too little, too late.
For Edinburgh, their attention reverts back to Guinness PRO14 action as they host Ulster in a must win encounter at BT Murrayfield on Friday night – where a victory will guarantee their place in the Final Series.
Speaking after the match, Head Coach Richard Cockerill gave full credit to Cardiff – who will now host Pau in the Semi-Final – and admitted that his side simply had a bad day at the office.
“I thought they played very well and took their tries well,” said Cockerill.
“Their tries were maybe a little fortuitous, but once we got behind we struggled physically to get on the front foot and we didn’t execute.
“They put us under pressure defensively and frustratingly we didn’t play as well as we can
Full credit to Cardiff. They probably played better than us. I thought with 10 minutes to go, and with those series of scrums we could have got ourselves back in the game or at least given ourselves a fighting chance.
“Overall we didn’t create enough opportunities. Once we were behind in those conditions, it became a difficult game to chase down.
“No complaints, we got what we deserved. We were beaten as we didn’t play well enough. They played the conditions well and their team leaders at 9 and 10 got them around the field well. We just didn’t manage it physically.”
On Edinburgh captain Fraser McKenzie’s 100th appearance for the club, both sides cancelled each other out in the early stages.
With physical defence and scrappy back line play the running theme in the opening 15 minutes, the Welsh side missed the chance to take the lead when Jarrod Evans scuffed his attempted penalty well short.
His counterpart – Jaco van der Walt – would make no mistake only moments later as the South African slotted home to give Edinburgh the lead.
The visitors would hit back almost immediately, however. After working the ball into Edinburgh territory, a neat cross-field kick fell fortuitously into the arms of Jenkins who had the simple task of collapsing on the ball. With Evans guiding over the tricky conversion, Cardiff held a four-point lead.
The visitors would soon strengthen their grasp on the game. With a chipped kick rolling towards the host’s try-line, a mix-up in Edinburgh’s scrambling defence allowed the ball to bounce into the path of Scully, who powered over from only metres out.
As the first-half closed, the Welsh side were in the ascendancy, whilst Edinburgh had it all to do.
Edinburgh came out of the half-time break with a sense of urgency and impetus. A penalty from Jaco van der Walt cut the deficit to just eight-points, but this soon became eleven when Evans slotted home from short range.
Cockerill soon looked to the bench to provide energy, however unforced errors continued to resonate.
With both sides playing the percentages, and Cardiff defending well, it was going to take a piece of magic for Edinburgh to edge back into fixture.
And Blair Kinghorn very nearly provided it. With Cardiff’s defence in retreat, the fullback made a blistering line break, carrying the ball 50 metres, only to be clawed down just shy of the whitewash.
With Cardiff’s Jenkins being sent to the bin after handling at the resulting breakdown, Edinburgh looked to their pack in an attempt to bludgeon over the try line
However, in a desperate effort to narrow the deficit, the ball was carelessly spilled into the grasps of the Welshman, who had to simply run the clock down to secure passage to the Semi-Final