Edinburgh 24 Dragons 10: The Verdict
Edinburgh 24 Dragons 10: Gareth Llewellyn-Stevens takes a look at the Scottish side's 12-point victory
Edinburgh won just their second match of the season with an error-strewn 24-10 win over Newport Gwent Dragons in round six of the Guinness PRO12.
Second-half tries from Scotland wingers Tim Visser and Dougie Fife at BT Murrayfield Stadium ultimately made the difference as the Dragons slumped to their fifth defeat in six matches.
Have Edinburgh started to turn around their poor start to the season?
This game is probably not the best to pass judgement either way. With both teams managing just 12 tries between them in the opening five rounds of the season, it was never going to be a thrilling encounter or much of a benchmark, despite being picked up by Sky Sports as part of a Scottish rugby double header. The first half showcased that perfectly. Edinburgh may have made several line breaks for 228 metres in the opening 40 minutes, but eight handling errors again cost them with two clear try-scoring chances wasted in the first half.
There will be closer scrutiny of Edinburgh’s rebound to come, not least with a trip to Dublin to face Leinster on 31 October off the back of two European Rugby Challenge Cup matches, but they need to cut out the handling errors and take their chances as well as bossing the breakdown.
At least the 3,000 or so Edinburgh fans had something to celebrate: a first home win since February and their first win at Murrayfield since their 27-16 Heineken Cup win over Perpignan in January.
How close were Edinburgh to scoring in the first half?
As close as you can get without coming away with the goods.
First, Scotland wing Tim Visser knocked on in-goal on 20 minutes after good work from Greig Tonks and Sam Beard down the left wing off the back of a typically aimless kick into the Edinburgh 22 from Jason Tovey, then nine minutes later flanker Hamish Watson was short of the line at the first attempt after Visser had skewered his way through the Dragons defence.
Have the Dragons overcome their injury problems?
Unfortunately not. They may have had club captain Lee Byrne back at full-back, but they lost lock Ian Gough before the match. Around the same time du Preez went down, Dragons centre Ashley Smith was taken off with concussion and failed to return.
They are still short of numbers, particularly at centre, leading to Tom Prydie, Jason Tovery and Hallam Amos having to play out of position throughout the match. Their squad depth remains among the weakest in the league and they could struggle with Europe thrown into the mix later this month.
What do the Dragons need to do to win?
Find some composure and territory would be a good start. As with several matches this season, their exits were poor and their kick-chase game was more of a kick-watch game. Aimless kicking allowed Edinburgh to return the ball with interest whether in hand or from kicks.
They spent much of the match struggling to make it past half-way and rarely made it to the Edinburgh 22 in the first half. It would be surprising if the Edinburgh players felt they were in a game after that outing.
Playing the ball in the opposition half would allow them to build some pressure as they did leading up to Matthew Pewtner’s try early in the second half through Andy Powell and Lee Byrne.
In Hallam Amos, Tom Prydie, Lee Byrne and Aled Brew, they have dangerous runners from deep, but they need to give them chances to attack defences with ball in hand.
What happened to Cornell du Preez in the first half?
He went down just before the half-hour mark with what appeared to be an ankle injury as Edinburgh broke down the right flank. After a lengthy delay, du Preez was taken off on a buggy with his right leg strapped up and an oxygen mask.
The club confirmed before the break that it was a “significant leg injury” and the South African had been taken to hospital.
After the match, Gunners head coach Alan Solomons speculated that it could be a break and, if that was the case, his season could be over, but would leave the medical staff to provide specific details. At the time of writing, no medical update has been released by the club.
Why were there two yellow cards in the first half?
In a match with so many scrums, it was always going to happen, especially when they rarely resulted in the expected restart they are meant to produce.
Edinburgh tighthead prop John Andress was guilty of scrum infringements on numerous occasions in the first quarter leading referee Peter Fitzgibbon to warn Gunners captain Mike Coman that a yellow was coming on 16 minutes after two quick penalties conceded.
Fourteen minutes later, with further infringements, Fitzgibbon decided to rectify the situation by sending Andress and Dragons loosehead prop Dan Way to the bin for the remainder of the first half. Coman was warned again six minutes later and told “we’ll keep going [with the yellow cards]” if it continued. Both captains were warned again just before the break.
Edinburgh were again warned on 67 minutes for successive wilful penalties at the breakdown, but survived the remainder of the match without any further yellow cards.