Cockerill - all credit to the players
Head Coach Richard Cockerill heaped praise on his squad after Edinburgh battled to a 3-6 victory over Conference B rivals Scarlets – their first of the 2020-21 season.
With 16 players unavailable due to injury or international selection, a much-changed capital side controlled the encounter in terrible conditions, with Jaco van der Walt knocking over a pair of penalties to secure the crucial road win.
“We’ve been working hard, our process is good and we think we’ve got a good environment, we just haven’t been able to get that win, until tonight – and hopefully this will be a springboard to start our season in earnest.
“It has been a bit disjointed for us so far this season, and for whatever reason, we just haven’t hit the ground running, but hopefully this result will just give us that little bit of belief.
“The boys battled hard and they clearly cared about getting a result. All credit to them because they’ve been working really hard at training and it’s been tough because we’re sitting on a Monday morning saying: ‘we’re doing everything we can, but the result isn’t there.’
“We learnt to win tonight, we controlled the game brilliantly and I thought Henry Pyrgos was fantastic in that role. I thought Jamie Farndale out on the wing did brilliantly tonight as well and had a couple of great catches in tough conditions.
“I’m really pleased for the players as they are seeing some reward for the work they are putting in.”
Ultimately, the game came down to whoever controlled the conditions better, and with Edinburgh dominating at scrum time and playing rugby in the right areas, small margins proved the difference on the night.
“It was a very tight game because of the weather conditions and you know a score either way was enough and we probably should have scored before half-time, but we didn’t and they had their chances towards the end – and there was obviously the sending off.
“But we had forward dominance - especially at scrum time - from the start. We’re delighted with the win, but we’ve again not had much luck with injuries.
“We lost our lineout caller [Andrew Davidson] early – which was always going to be vital in these conditions – but the boys found a way to win, they battled hard and these sort of nutty, gritty wins can galvanise a team.
“George obviously took a sore one with the high tackle and red card. We’re hopeful it’s not as bad as it looked and he’s not fractured his cheek bone.
"Murray McCallum trapped his ankle in a tackle with is far for ideal because we don’t have a huge number of tightheads at this point. Andrew Davidson just jarred his back a little, while Chris Dean failed his HIA early in that first-half.”
Despite the injuries and setbacks, Edinburgh battled from first whistle to last, with eventual Player of the Match WP Nel a great example of that fighting spirit.
Coming on after only 10 minutes, the Scotland international was a force at scrum time and almost singlehandedly dominated the Scarlets scrum to the point where his opposite number was sent to the bin.
“WP is quality scrummager, we all know that. Look he’s 34 years old and we have to manage how he plays and trains, but he didn’t train a minute with us during the week,” continued Cockerill.
“He’s been with Scotland all week, he joined us last night, got on after 10 minutes and performed like that. Credit to WP, he’s an awesome man and showed how much he cares about playing for this team.
Some other players might have said ‘I don’t fancy this’, but in the position he plays there’s no other option but to fancy it as it’s a pretty tough job.”
“It’s challenging, we’ve got a lot of guys away with Scotland, and now quite a few guys injured, but we’ve got Cardiff next Monday, so we’ve just to regroup, go as hard as we can again and see what happens.”