Edinburgh score nine in pre-season opener
As the beginning of the Guinness PRO14 season draws ever closer, Edinburgh’s first pre-season match against London Scottish was a chance for the team to get back into the swing of things.
With a collection of big signings ahead of the season – including Nick Haining, Murray Douglas, Ewan Ashman and Nic Groom – both fans and club officials alike have been eager to see the new boys in action.
Despite the match being billed as a ‘friendly’, there would be no quarter given between the two sides, with both teams eager to open their rugby season with a victory.
The home side had a promising start, with the boys piling the pressure on from the first whistle. Hard work paid off when Jamie Farndale found space out on the far side to puncture the visitors’ line and touch down in style. Despite the distance from the posts, Jaco van der Walt managed to make the conversion, adding the two points from out wide [7-0].
New signing Nick Haining then added to the tally just five minutes later, breaking through for a debut try after some gritty work from his fellow forwards [14-0]. The visitors replied soon after though, as winger Rob Stevenson displayed a burst of pace to edge out the defence and score beneath the posts [14-7].
Then, in the 33rd minute, Edinburgh stalwart Dougie Fife ran over to touch down after quick hands from Damien Hoyland left him with only the last defender to beat. Jaco van der Walt added the extra points comfortably, slotting the kick between the posts [21-7].
By this point Edinburgh were truly finding their feet as a seamless run from Henry Pyrgos ended with him offloading to Chris Dean, who dived over the try-line in his first outing as captain. [26-7]
Edinburgh led comfortably as the half-time whistle came, sitting 19 points clear of the Exiles, at 26-7.
The second half was solid for the home side as they dominated inside opposition territory for much of the opening 20 minutes of action. Replacement hooker Ewan Ashman was the first man to continue Edinburgh’s try haul into the second half, managing to somehow get the ball to the ground amongst a flurry of arms and legs in a try-line ruck for his first try in Edinburgh colours [31-7].
Nic Groom then added another five points, and another debut try, just three minutes later, after a break from Luke Crosbie, whose deflected pass managed to find the scrum-half amongst a collection of bodies, leaving the new man to stride beneath the posts comfortably [38-7].
Matt Scott then found space in the 52nd minute, going on a solo run from his own half, making it to the ten metre line before the rival defence smothered him. Damien Hoyland was hot on his heels though, snatching Scott’s perfect offload out of the air to come crashing down under the posts [45-7].
Not a team to lie down and accept defeat, London Scottish replied ferociously, launching a barrage of attacks on the home side. The Exiles eventually found an opportunity on the crowded try-line, with Luke Frost forcing his way across after numerous phases [45-14].
Academy graduate Jack Blain then joined the action, becoming Edinburgh’s 8th try scorer of the afternoon, receiving a pass out wide after fellow age-grade star Connor Boyle drew the defender, leaving the 19-year-old to sprint 40 metres and touch down to bring Edinburgh’s points tally to 50 [50-14].
Once again though the visitors fought back, with Dan Barnes capitalising on a loose ball in Edinburgh’s 22’ to scamper through the defence and touch down [50-21].
The home side remained dominant though, with confidence in attack. A ruck just metres from the try line allowed for a seamless move culminating in Tommy Brown crossing the whitewash, leaving Simon Hickey to add the conversion from distance, for Edinburgh’s last points of the game as the whistle blew eight minutes later – the final score standing at 57-21.
This match was the first start for forward Nick Haining, who put in an impressive performance at number eight, whilst Murray Douglas returned to the field for his hometown team after seven seasons in Australasia. Ewan Ashman and Nic Groom also made their first appearances for the team, both coming off the bench to score, making for three debut tries in the one match. All impressed out on the turf at BT Murrayfield, leaving fans eager to see more of the new faces.
Names like Mark Bennett and Matt Scott impressed, but it would be the performance of full-back Damien Hoyland, that won him the Principal & Prosper Man of the Match, after an assertive display at fullback, providing not only a try of his own, but playing his part in the countless opportunities for others to leave their own marks on the game.
It is now two weeks until Edinburgh’s second, and final, Principal & Prosper pre-season match against Ospreys at BT Murrayfield, which will prove to be a tough match-up, with an ever-defiant Ospreys side having recruited a series of new names to their side prior to the season starting.
live commentary 2:00 PM Saturday 31 Aug 2019
Henry Pyrgos9. Scrum half
Jaco Van Der Walt10. Flyhalf
Dougie Fife11. Left Wing
Chris Dean12. Inside Centre
Mark Bennett13. Outside Centre
Jamie Farndale14. Right Wing
Damien Hoyland15. Full Back
Rory Sutherland1. Loosehead
Dave Cherry2. Hooker
Pietro Ceccarelli3. Tighthead
Fraser McKenzie4. Lock
Murray Douglas5. Lock
Ally Miller6. Blindside Flanker
Luke Crosbie7. Openside Flanker
Nick Haining8. Number 8
Pierre Schoeman16. Replacement
Ewan Ashman17. Replacement
Jack Stanley18. Replacement
Tom Brown19. Replacement
Charlie Shiel20. Replacement
Matt Scott21. Replacement
Jack Blain22. Replacement
Sam Pecqueur23. Replacement
Darryl Marfo24. Replacement
Murray McCallum25. Replacement
Jamie Hodgson26. Replacement
Connor Boyle27. Replacement
Nic Groom28. Replacement
Simon Hickey29. Replacement
James Johnstone30. Replacement