Edinburgh v Munster Rugby
After the “Beast from the East” disrupted this fixture with Siberian conditions two weeks ago, both sides eventually arrived at BT Murrayfield looking to add to their play-off credentials.
Edinburgh, so far unbeaten in the league in 2018, put in a dogged display in still freezing conditions to take the spoils in a two-tries-to-nil victory.
“It’s a great result for us,” said Head Coach Richard Cockerill on the final whistle. “It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it was a game that was really good for us to win. The players should take the credit for it because they’re working ever so hard.
"We’re taking steps in the right direction, and tonight, I just wanted the boys to go out there and play as well as they could. The effort was just unbelievable, it’s where we want to be.”
Cockerill’s men started off the better side and dominated the early exchanges. Bill Mata was the first player to cross the whitewash after just five minutes, only to have the TMO to call play back for offside.
Despite that, the capital side continued to impose themselves on the opposition. Unfortunately, recent centurion Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was withdrawn from the action with a head injury.
Munster were the first to put a score in the board. A well-executed penalty from 40 meters gave the Irish side a foothold in the game, and a fantastic last ditch tackle from Dougie Fife in the corner later prevented an almost certain Munster try.
Fife was in the limelight again when a scorching line break from his own 22 meter line developed into a free flowing phase of play which winger Duhan van der Merwe finished off in the corner. Unfortunately, stand-off Jaco van der Walt was unable to covert from a narrow angle. Edinburgh went in at the break with a slender 5-3 lead.
The return to play saw winger Jason Harries sin binned for a dangerous tackle from which Munster stand-off JJ Hanrahan slotted a penalty to gain a narrow lead with half an hour left on the clock. Edinburgh rallied, and with 14 men on the field, they more than matched their visitors, touching down for a third time only to have the referee once again call play back, this time a forward pass.
Cockerill started to use the depth of his squad and new players provided new energy from the bench. South African winger van der Merwe added to his try tally as he touched down for a second time, to which his fellow countryman Jaco van der Walt was able to slot the ball between the uprights and add the extras. 12-6.
A late surge from Munster put pressure on the Edinburgh defence, but they were able to weather the onslaught and claim a well-deserved victory.
Edinburgh now strengthen their grip of third place in Conference B with four more huge fixtures to come - away to Connacht next week before welcoming Ulster, Scarlets and Glasgow to the capital in successive weeks in April.
The club also has it all to play for in Europe with a home quarter-final against Cardiff Blues in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday 31 March.
Cockerill continued: "We’re confident, we feel that we can win and we feel that we can stay in the battle – even when we go behind. The boys just roll their sleeves up and get in the middle of it and that’ll take you a long way.
"At the start of the season, we wanted to earn respect from the rest of the competition. Now we’ve beaten Glasgow, we’ve beaten Leinster, Ulster and now Munster - but we’ve still got some huge games ahead and we’ve just got to keep winning."
What a season it’s turning out to be