Hodge hails team win
Attack Coach Duncan Hodge praised the efforts of Edinburgh’s full squad as the capital side secured an impressive win on the road against Wasps despite making nine changes for the Challenge Cup encounter at the Ricoh Arena.
A late comeback – which saw substitute Jaco van der Walt hit a go-ahead penalty in the 78th minute – was engineered as the capital side’s starters and replacements all played a pivotal role in driving Edinburgh over the finish line.
“We made a lot of changes, and we knew that they are a strong physical side, so we expected that the match would go the full 80 minutes,” said Hodge.
“We didn’t have much ball in the first half, so we couldn’t actually impose ourselves on the game – and we had to keep defending and defending in that opening 40 minutes which takes it out of you.
“But we got some ball in that second half and created some pressure. We had chances to score but couldn’t quite get that try. But yeah, managed to get there in the end. We were delighted with the win.”
With Scotland stars Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, Ben Toolis and Magnus Bradbury all providing impetus from the bench, Edinburgh looked the far stronger off the two sides in the closing stages.
And with Toolis and McInally working in tandem to secure an important late lineout deep inside Wasps territory, and Bradbury proving physicality in the loose, the captain side were able to keep the pressure on in the final minutes, which ultimately led to Van der Walt’s match-winning penalty.
“We had a quality bench and we knew we’d need that in the last 30, 40 minutes of the game. I thought they made a really good impact and it was great to see from the squad’s perspective too,” continued Hodge.
“We made nine changes coming into this game, which is a big chunk of the team, so from that point of view it’s great.
“Taking the penalties wasn’t a change in game plan, it was just where we were on the park at the time.
“We had spent so long on their goal line without getting a score, and at that time we were thinking getting a bonus-point out of the game could be important too – so we had to come away with something.
“We could have just as easily gone to the corner for the seven, but we were happy to have taken those three points and it really worked in the end.”
Edinburgh’s European campaign now hangs on two crucial matches against French opponents.
The capital side first travel to face Bordeaux-Begles in a top of the pool clash on the 11th January, before facing Agen at home on the 18th January in their final group-stage fixture.
“We’ve obviously got a tough game away to Bordeaux, and they are sitting in a strong position at the top of the pool, while Agen haven’t been going for it, and we’ve got them at home.
“While looking at some of the other groups, a lot of the teams have been beating each other, so we’re delighted with today from that perspective.”
And asked whether Edinburgh would need to re-focus ahead of next week’s 1872 Cup first leg away to Scotstoun, Hodge’s reply was simple: “No, I wouldn’t think so.”
“I don’t think we’ve picked up any injuries, so we’ll have a day off, get back in on Monday and re-focus for Glasgow. You don’t have to tell us the importance of that match.”