Gilchristre­turn on ly ray oflight on gloom y n ight for Edin b urgh

The Herald - Herald Sport - - GUINNESS PRO12 -

CHAM­PI­ONS know how to squeeze out re­sults. The ev­i­dence of this game is that it is go­ing to be quite a while be­fore Ed­in­burgh reach that peak. It is not just that this side is go­ing to be bro­ken up, with Grant Gilchrist, the vice-cap­tain, the lat­est to be linked with a big-money move away – ac­cord­ing to the French me­dia, he is off to Toulon. But even with him on the park for the fi­nal quar­ter, his side did not look like sneez­ing out the re­sult they needed.

They had gone into the game ahead of their Welsh op­po­nents, but could not sus­tain the qual­ity of their play through­out the 80 min­utes as the Welsh side took con­trol of the game, while the Scots gave away a string of penal­ties in the se­cond half to hand over the re­sult.

“We did re­ally well in the first half,” said Alan Solomons, the head coach af­ter­wards. “We had two penal­ties which should have gone [over], but un­for­tu­nately did not. At half-time, af­ter dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory, we landed up go­ing into the shed at 13-all.

“Then, in the se­cond half, our dis­ci­pline was poor, the penalty count has cost us and then the turn­ing point of the game was a yel­low card against Neil Cochrane [the Ed­in­burgh cap­tain and hooker]. When they had a yel­low card, we could not make it pay, but they cer­tainly did when they had the ad­van­tage.

“The penal­ties were mas­sive in the game, mas­sive, and we only had our­selves to blame for that.”

For all that, prob­a­bly the most sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment of the game from a na­tional point of view came in the 55th minute, when Gilchrist came off the bench to end four and a half months of mis­ery af­ter tear­ing a groin mus­cle in Scot­land’s open­ing game of the World Cup.

Whether a lit­tle more than a quar­ter of a game is enough to put him in con­tention im­me­di­ately is doubt­ful, but he has a chance to get him­self match-fit be­fore the end of the RBS Six Na­tions Cham­pi­onship and Vern Cot­ter, the Scot­land coach, rates him highly.

“It is good that he is back,” said Solomons af­ter­wards.

“He is ob­vi­ously still a bit ring-rusty, but it was re­ally good to see him back and play­ing. I think he made a good fist of it tonight, but he needs game time un­der his belt. He needs to play. He is fine af­ter the game, and that will have done won­ders for his con­fi­dence.”

What he will find harder to work out is how the team were trail­ing when he did comeon.Th­e­scrumhad­been­in­com­plete con­trol, with early set-piece penal­ties putting them in range of the posts for Greig Tonks to nudge them ahead.

Al­ready, though, there were also signs of their self-de­struct but­ton, as they con­ceded the lev­el­ling score straight from the kick-off and then Tonks missed his se­cond pot at goal, though he quickly made amends by land­ing his next shot, only for that too to be can­celled out by Sam Davies.

The try, when it even­tu­ally came, showed Ed­in­burgh at their best, with Sam Beard, the cen­tre, steal­ing the ball in mid­field, Tonks mak­ing the half break and Alan Dell, the prop, on his shoul­der for the off­load and a score un­der the posts.

The Ospreys’ re­ply, how­ever, was just as good, with Davies show­ing ex­cel­lent vi­sion to chip into spa­ces, Ben Johns, the wing, leap­ing above Tom Brown, his Ed­in­burgh op­po­site num­ber to take the ball and off­load to Sam Underhill, the flanker, for the score.

Ed­in­burgh did have the chance to get back ahead with Dan Ly­di­ate, the Wales flanker, sent to the sin bin for a no-arms tackle, but in­stead it was the home side that stepped up the pace a man short to give Davies the chance to edge his side in front again soon af­ter the break.

That seemed to suck the con­fi­dence from Ed­in­burgh, whose break­down work got slop­pier and slop­pier, hand­ing Davies two more shots at goal be­fore Sam Ot­ten, the home re­place­ment hooker, took full ad­van­tage of the Scots sin bin by rum­bling over for a late try that made the score look a lot more com­fort­able than the game had re­ally been. The fact is, though, that they have to learn how to win games like this if

they are to be play-off con­tenders.

D Evans; J Hassler, J En­gel­brecht (J Matavesi, 52), O Watkin, B John; S Davies, B Leonard (C) (T Hab­ber­field, 67); N Smith (G Thomas, 47), S Parry (S Ot­ten, 49), M Fia (A Jarvis, 41), J King, R Thorn­ton, D Ly­di­ate (sin bin: 37-47, R Bernardo, 73), S Underhill (O Crack­nell, 41), D Baker,

G Tonks (B Kinghorn, 77); D Fife, M Allen, S Beard (C Dean, 77), T Brown; P Burleigh, S Kennedy (S Hi­dalgo-Clyne, 55); A Dell (G Sheills, 63), N Cochrane (C) (sin bin: 65-75), J Andress (S Berghan, 51), A Bresler (G Gilchrist, 55), B Too­lis, J Ritchie (M Brad­bury, 62), H Wat­son (G Turner, 68-75), C Du Preez. M Mitrea (Italy).

7624.

TOUGH TO TAKE: Ben Too­lis of Ed­in­burgh, left, who were out­classed by Ospreys in a dis­mal se­cond half in Wales

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