By Bedfordshire Boy
October 26 2016
Not much time on the long drive north to think about the match due to the crappy road conditions but in the cold light of day on match day morning couldn`t help but think that this was definitely a game there for the taking.
Raining when we set out at lunch time for Edinburgh from the Kingdom of Fife but dry with some reluctant sunshine when we arrived at the stadium. This was only my second visit to Murrayfield, the first being in March 1968 when England beat Scotland by 8 points to 6, how time flies. Pity in a way that the game was scheduled at Murrayfield, very difficult to generate any atmosphere in a 65000 capacity stadium with a crowd unlikely to reach anything like 10000. A one minute silence was observed before kick-off following the tragic death last weekend of Anthony Foley, a true Munsterman.
Quins looked very business-like from the kick off and were in the lead within 3 minutes when Charlie Walker got over the line following a line out 5 metres from the Edinburgh line which was easily converted by Nick Evans. Unfortunately it only took a couple of minutes for Edinburgh to reply when turnover ball led to an Edinburgh break down the left hand wing and prop Dell scoring in the corner, score 5 – 7. Both teams were determined to run the ball in a very open game but it was another 6 minutes or so when Edinburgh full back Blair Kinghorn scored a brilliant individual try in the right hand corner but the conversion was again kicked wide.
Despite looking dangerous with ball in hand (when they could keep hold of it) Quins continued to miss crucial tackles and Edinburgh took advantage once again on 19 minutes when their No. 8 Manu crossed the line to put them further ahead on the scoreboard following a neat chipped ball. This time fly half Jason Tovey added to the score with the conversion, 17 – 7 to the home side. Have to say that the Edinburgh midfield were extremely quick up to this point or they were straying offside but clearly not a view held by the officials and the home crowd were happy enough.
Quins clearly looking a bit rattled by this time and unnecessarily trying to force the game and continually leaving space wide on the wings. Things were to get even worse 5 minutes later when the non-existent Quins defence allowed Edinburgh another well worked try from turnover ball when fullback Kinghorn passed to flanker Hamish Watson to score. This bonus point score brought the score to 24 – 7 after 25 minute play. Despite the deficit on the scoreboard Quins continued to press, and following another infringement by Edinburgh, Quins eventually appeared to add to their score after a determined run by Marland Yarde saw him get over the line for a score. As Quins celebrated Romaine Poite was already referring the try to the TMO and between them they decided that the ball had been held up much to the obvious disbelief of Yarde.
Nevertheless Quins continued to press and were awarded a penalty try following continued infringements by the opposition which was easily converted by Nick Evans bringing the score to 24 – 14 with 2 minutes to the break. Even this try was scrutinised by the officials before finally allowing the score to stand. Quins were still not finished and were awarded a penalty that would have brought them within a score of Edinburgh but they turned it down and paid a heavy price when the ball was spilled on the Edinburgh 22 and fullback Hoyland gathered the ball and outran the defence to score under the posts. The try was converted by Kinghorn leaving the scoreline at half time 31 – 14 rather than the 24 – 17 if Quins had taken the easy points. Before the teams left the pitch as a group Charlie Walker and Jason Tovey were yellow carded for a skuffle on the ground after Walker let Tovey know that he was not overly impressed being blocked as he tried to chase down Hoyland. So, what a 40 minutes of rugby, 7 trys and of the 5 scored by Edinburgh, 4 of them came from turnover ball, the second half couldn`t match that could it?
Charlie Matthews replaced Sam Twomey for the second half to face an unchanged Edinburgh side with Quins having presumably had the proverbial rocket up their orifices. Whatever was said by the coaches during the break it certainly worked as Quins looked much more business like from the kick off. Two penalties awarded to Quins in the first few minutes and from a 5 metre line out and well set maul, Quins pressed the Edinburgh line and seemed to be making hard work of it until Kyle Sinkler popped up on the wing to score on the right hand side. With a good kick from Evans it suddenly seemed that all was not lost as Quins were now only 10 points adrift with more than 35 minutes left of the match. Edinburgh were officially warned for the number of penalties they were conceding a few minutes later and were again penalised at the resulting line out in which Ben Toolis fell heavily to the ground. While he was being treated the match officials decided to look again at the line out and after ages eventually concluded that Toolis had been brought to the ground illegally by Joe Marler who was shown a yellow card. Difficult for me to see that there was any offence looking at the replays at the ground although a few thousand Scotsmen seemed happy enough.
Even with 13 men the feeling was growing that Quins were now in control of the match with Danny Care and Tim Swiel replacing Karl Dickson and Nick Evans on 49 minutes. Shortly after the Edinburgh captain Grant Gilchrist was invited to take a 10 minute rest for not releasing Jamie Roberts in the tackle followed by a return to the pitch by Walker and Tovey as Edinburgh centre Phil Burleigh is replaced by Michael Allen. Quins continue to attack with Joe Marchent being tackled just short of the line and Edinburgh are again penalised. Quins kick to the corner but the ball is spilled and Edinburgh clear their line and on 55 minutes Lambert replaces Wallace to participate in a scrum. Quins are awarded yet another penalty from the scrum which Tim Swiel kicks to touch which signals the end of Joe Marlers 10 minutes so Wallace returns and Mark Lambert heads in the opposite direction. Quins press from the line out and another great run from Marchent breaks down when Rob Buchanan spills the ball on the line but play is called back for another Quins penalty. Swiel kicks to the corner and from the line out and maul Quins are awarded their second penalty try of the afternoon which is converted by Swiel to bring Quins within 3 points of the Edinburgh total. Edinburgh 31, Quins 28 after 59 minutes.
Edinburgh continue to ring the changes and Quins dominance continues with further attacks and Edinburgh defending a kick and chase by Kyle Sinkler. With 64 minutes gone, Wallace is replaced by Matt Luamanu and it only takes 2 minutes for him to appear on the score sheet when Quins drive over for their fifth try of the afternoon to retake the lead, Edinburgh 31, Quins 35 following the Swiel conversion. This seems to wake up the Edinburgh side who now press Quins and the home crowd are incensed when a try is disallowed for a forward pass. With 10 minutes to go, Alofa Alofa and Will Collier replace Walker and Sinkler respectively and I am beginning to think that I might be going to report on the first away win of the season but it was not to be. With Edinburgh pressing within the Quins 22 a high ball is kicked to the Quins try line and this time it is gathered by the wrong Brown as Tom Brown gets the ball to ground for a try. The conversion is missed so Edinburgh are back in front by one point with 6 minutes still left to play. Things got pretty frantic for the rest of the game with the “highlight” being a set to between all of the players on the pitch. There seemed to be a high tackle on a Quins player, the ball ended up in touch and when Mike Brown tried to retrieve it from an opposition player, he seemed reluctant to give it up. A lot of pushing and shoving ensued and when it was finally broken up the officials took an age to decide that a penalty should be awarded against the Quins full back. Despite this, as the clock ran down Quins were camped on the Edinburgh line for the final minute of the match but the ball was turned over and the ball was put safely into the stands much to the delight of the local supporters.
My thoughts on the game that it was lost by Quins rather than won by Edinburgh although it cannot be denied that they took their chances well. Interesting that the Quins trys were basically all from forward domination and the Edinburgh scores from turnover ball and suspect defending. Quins played a much more pragmatic game in the second half and generally kept Edinburgh out of the game. The Quins defence were pulled in field too often leaving the wings exposed and even when they defended as a line there appeared to be uncertainty as to who should be tackling the ball carrier. Funnily enough, although losing yet another away game, you can definitely see the signs of improvement. All in all despite the result an enjoyable afternoon including the two renderings from the piper directly in front of me. Add the given 10 points from the two games against the Romanians and a likely home win in the return match against Edinburgh, Quins have a very good chance of qualification. We will all have a much better idea after the two Stade v Edinburgh games in December.