Edinburgh A battle to victory at Scotstoun
Edinburgh Rugby A battled back to secure a hard-earned victory against Glasgow Warriors A at Scotstoun stadium this afternoon.
In treacherous conditions, the capital side overturned a 19-7 half-time deficit, scoring 15 straight second-half points to return East with both a victory, and local ‘A’ bragging rights in the bag.
Glasgow Warriors A used the match as an opportunity to test out several different line-ups, using 30 players - both experienced and from their academy - throughout the contest.
Scotland cap Damien Hoyland – making his first appearance since facing Munster in October last year – made a successful comeback from injury, marking his return with a well-taken first-half score.
Stand-off Nathan Chamberlain converted, taking the capital club’s tally to seven points at the break, with the hosts crossing the whitewash on three occasions in the opening 40 minutes to take a commanding 12-point lead.
With the strong Scotstoun wind at their tails, it was all Edinburgh A in the second-half and they were able to battle courageously, with a number of replacements contributing successfully to the fightback.
Hooker Sam Kitchen powered over in the corner after an accurate driving maul, cutting into Glasgow’s first-half lead, with replacement stand-off Charlie Savala nailing the conversion to make it 19-14.
Fijian international Mesulame Kunavula was the man who brought the capital side level, cantering in from 20m out to make it 19-19.
Replacement Savala then hit a penalty late on, splitting the uprights from the wide channel, to make it 19-22, the full-time result.
Head Coach Richard Cockerill named a good blend of youth and experience heading into the ‘A’ team encounter in Glasgow, with internationalists Hoyland and tighthead prop Murray McCallum making their returns from respective ankle injuries at Scotstoun.
The team selection also saw a number of FOSROC Academy players thrust into senior action, with No. 8 Ben Muncaster – who joined the club from Leicester Tigers in the summer – Southern Knights’ winger Nathan Sweeney, and Watsonians duo Roan Frostwick (scrum-half) and Matthew Currie (centre) all getting starts.
With sideways rain battering the Scotstoun turf on kick-off, a slippy ball and little territory, it was the hosts who shot out to a hot start, grabbing two quick scores to make it 12-0 after just 20 minutes played.
Edinburgh A hit back after 25 minutes however, and it was Scotland cap Hoyland who finished off a slick attack, kick-started by solid defence.
With Chamberlain charging down a loose kick, the ball was fed to winger Alec Coombes who broke in the Warriors’ 22m.
Coombes then offloaded to Hoyland who had the simple task of crossing the whitewash to get Edinburgh on the board. Chamberlain converted to make it 12-7.
The hosts weren’t done however and managed to grab one more score before the break – but missing the resulting conversion – to make it 19-7 at the half.
Having swapped halves, and now with a strong wind on their backs, Edinburgh swiftly manoeuvred into the Warriors territory and quickly turned pressure into points.
With Savala now on at stand-off, the former rugby league playmaker curled a penalty into the corner which the pack duly converted into five-points.
An accurate but powerful drive saw hooker Kitchen guide the ball over the line, and with Savala converting, it was 19-14.
With young back-row duo Connor Boyle – who skippered the A side – and Ally Miller showing up well at the breakdown - with both their presence over their ball and physicality in the tackle – the visitors began to dominate collisions, and that defensive nous would again lead to points on the board.
Showing aggression in the tackle, Edinburgh forced the ball loose at the breakdown and Kunavula was on hand to pick-up, wrestle free and sprint over the line from 20m out.
With Savala missing the resulting conversion, it was all tied up, 19-19 heading into the closing stages.
Edinburgh continued to battle however, and when Glasgow were pinged for offside late in the contest, Savala pointed to the posts, confident in his ability to grab the match winner.
And, with a sweet strike, the replacement 10 made it 19-22, giving the capital side a well-deserved ‘A’ victory at Scotstoun.
Edinburgh Rugby 'A' scorers
Tries: Hoyland, Kitchen, Kunavula Cons: Chamberlain (1), Savala (1) Pens: Savala (1)
Scoring order: 5-0, 12-0, 12-7, 19-7 HT 19-14, 19-19, 19-22