Brilliant Mata adds gloss to epic Edinburgh win
RICHARD Cockerill refused to get carried away with his side’s historic win at Stade Felix Mayol and pledged his players would be back in work on Monday morning ready to prepare for Friday night’s Pool 5 decider against Montpellier.
In becoming the first Scottish team to win in Toulon, and only the third in Champions Cup history after Saracens and Newcastle, Edinburgh moved back top of their pool to be on course for their first quarter-final since 2012.
“We’ll enjoy tonight and the feeling of winning here, but we still have a lot to do and need to keep on improving,” said Cockerill.
“We haven’t qualified yet and I want to win on Friday and try to get a home quarter-final. We’ve got a good work ethic and credit to the players, they should take a huge amount of pride out of what they’ve done.”
While Edinburgh are on the rise, Toulon are on the wane. Having literally shoved Guilhem Guirado over to take the lead within two minutes they should have done better.
A second try from one of their few successes, Argentine back row Facundo Isa, before the break meant they led 12-8. D’Arcy Graham replied to that early Guirado score with a corner effort that owed much to James Ritchie’s brilliant offload.
Outside half Jaco van der Walt warmed up for the second half with a penalty from in front of the posts with the last kick of the half to cut the home lead to a mere four points. If it was anyone’s game at the restart, by the end of the third quarter it was in the bag for the visitors.
A neat kick through by centre James Johnstone into the home 22 bounced into the grateful arms of Blair Kinghorn and the full back romped over within three minutes of the second half starting. Van der Walt added the extras and then kicked two penalties.
But the coup de grace came in the 65th minute when Fijian No.8 Bill Mata produced a moment of brilliant magic. The move began in the Edinburgh 22 after Rhys Webb had taken a quick tap and led a charge upfield that broke down when Mamuka Gorgodze knocked on.
Kinghorn used the turnover to open up and found Mata. The Fijian powered to halfway before throwing an incredible offload over his shoulder to find the supporting Johnstone, who raced in for one of the tries of the season.
Van der Walt converted and it mattered little that former All Black wing Julian Savea touched down for his first European try.
Star man: Bill Mata