Dras­tic ac­tion re­quired as scrum dis­as­ter lets side down

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION -

ED­IN­BURGH need to have to act quickly if they are to have any hope of sav­ing their sea­son. They can­not af­ford to sur­ren­der ev­ery game where WP Nel is un­avail­able, as they did in this match where the scrum was a dis­as­ter area.

With fly halves also thin on the ground, they head for Con­nacht on Fri­day need­ing a win to stop the rot but likely to be with­out Dun­can Weir.

The game was ridicu­lous in so many ways. Ad­mit­tedly there were a cou­ple of nasty in­juries that added to the stop­page time, but lengthy re­fer­rals to the TMO, a lot of more mi­nor in­juries and a long dis­cus­sion over what should hap­pen when the Scots did not have a tight­head prop on the pitch af­ter Alan Dell was sin binned meant it was two hours and nine min­utes from kick off to fi­nal whis­tle.

To add to Ed­in­burgh’s woes, there is a chance that Fraser McKen­zie, the lock, could find him­self in more trou­ble af­ter a reck­less charge into a ruck saw his shoul­der hit Jack O’Donoghue, the Mun­ster flanker, on the head. He was un­con­scious and taken to hospi­tal as a re­sult. For­tu­nately he was quickly re­leased but there were many in the Mun­ster camp who felt McKen­zie got off lightly with only a sin bin.

Strangely, the Ir­ish were al­most as ag­grieved by the sec­ond Ed­in­burgh sin bin as by that in­ci­dent. They were camped on the vis­i­tors’ line and driv­ing scrum af­ter scrum and win­ning penalty af­ter penalty un­til Dell was or­dered off. Ed­in­burgh did not have an­other tight­head prop, so the game went to un­con­tested scrums and their huge ad­van­tage in that area evap­o­rated.

Scrums were the big headache for Alan Solomons, the Ed­in­burgh head coach. With Nel on an en­forced rest week­end, he had hoped that Kevin Bryce, the hooker who is try­ing, at the age of 28, to turn him­self into a prop, might be able to cope. The ex­per­i­ment lasted six min­utes.

In that time he had gone down in the first scrum and spent a long time hav­ing his left arm taped up. He had strug­gled again in the sec­ond and was taken off be­fore there was any more dam­age to his arm and his con­fi­dence.

This was, af­ter all, only the third time he has played tight­head. When he does re­cover from what looked like an el­bow in­jury, he needs to get miles on the clock in his new po­si­tion be­fore mak­ing an­other at­tempt at it in the pro­fes­sional game.

Af­ter­wards, Solomons was full of praise for Dell, who had stepped into the breach, but the fact is that in­stead of be­ing a source of strength and con­fi­dence for the Ed­in­burgh side, as it is when Nel is there, the scrum was an em­bar­rass­ment in this game. It gave away two tries be­fore the break, both touched down by Conor Mur­ray, the Mun­ster scrum half, cost­ing them the lead Chris Deans had earned with an op­por­tunist break.

Then you come to the de­fence, which showed a lot of guts un­done by lapses in con­cen­tra­tion. They with­stood a fi­nal bar­rage from Mun­ster, Weir was in­cred­i­bly brave when he got un­der CJ Stander, the Mun­ster No8, to stop one try and sec­onds later he was back tack­ing the same op­po­nent only for a clash of heads to send him into the stand look­ing dazed.

It was all un­done by sim­ple missed tack­les that gifted tries to Conor Oliver and Dave O’Callaghan, the Mun­ster flankers. With the two scrum scores, the home side had the scor­ing bonus point wrapped up be­fore the fi­nal quar­ter.

Ed­in­burgh did fin­ish strongly with John Hardie com­ing off the bench to claim a try, and in Mag­nus Brad­bury, the young back row, they had the sin­gle best player on the pitch – how of­ten does a los­ing op­po­nent win the man of the match award at Thomond Park? – but with­out that scrum plat­form they didn’t have a chance.

“I am bit­terly dis­ap­pointed,” was the re­ac­tion from Sam Hi­dalgo-Clyne, mak­ing his first start of the sea­son. “We got off to such a good start but the try im­me­di­ately be­fore half time and the one im­me­di­ately af­ter com­pletely changed the mo­men­tum.

“Go­ing to un­con­tested scrums and the start-stop play gave them all the mo­men­tum. They got a good cou­ple of tries and a big lead.

“When you are chas­ing at Thomond Park, it is al­ways go­ing to be tough. The last 20 min­utes, we had a lot of good in­ten­tions and al­most came back to look for that bonus point but it got away from us.”

Scor­ers: Mun­ster: Tries:

Mur­ray 2 (25min, 39), Oliver (41), O’Callaghan (56). Bleyen­daal 4. Dean (22min), Hardie (66). Weir, Kinghorn. (Mun­ster first): 0-7, 7-7, 14-7 (half time), 21-7, 28-7. I Keat­ley; D Sweet­nam, K Earls, C Bo­hane, R O’Ma­hony; T Bleyen­daal (A Wootton, 58), C Mur­ray (D Wil­liams, 58); D Kil­coyne (J Cronin, 56), N Scan­nell (D Casey, 58), J Ryan; J Kleyn (D O’Shea, 44), B Hol­land (C); D O’Callaghan (S Archer, 63), J O’Donoghue (C Oliver, 12), CJ Stander. G Bryce; D Hoy­land, M Allen (R Sc­holes, 71), C Dean, T Brown; D Weir (B Kinghorn, 51), S Hi­dalgo-Clyne (S Kennedy, 63); R Sutherland, S McI­nally (C) (N Cochrane, 59), K Bryce (A Dell, 6, sin bin: 49-59), F McKen­zie (sin bin: 12-22, L Carmichael, 67), B Too­lis, M Brad­bury, H Wat­son (J Hardie, 24-33), C Du Preez, (J Cos­grove, 51-59, J Hardie, 59). B White­house (Wales) 12,826

Ed­in­burgh: Tries: Cons: Scor­ing se­quence Mun­ster: Ed­in­burgh: Ref­eree: At­ten­dance: Cons:

Pic­ture: Fo­to­sport/David Gib­son

MAN IN THE MID­DLE: John Hardie smashes his way over the line for a sec­ond-half try.

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