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Edinburgh Stay On Course For Play-Off Berth

jmcconnell 26 Mar 2010

Tries from ever-ready back rower Roddy Grant and winger Tim Visser, the Magners League’s leading try scorer this season, helped Edinburgh see off the Scarlets for their fourth successive win at Murrayfield in all competitions.

The Scarlets were hoping to build on their recent win over Ulster and gain their first ever victory on Edinburgh soil, and they got off to an encouraging start when fly-half Rhys Priestland converted an early penalty.

But a tremendous try by Roddy Grant, allied to three successful kicks from Phil Godman, helped Edinburgh take a 13-3 lead and they had the game within their grasp, on the hour mark, as Visser and Godman combined to make it 24-13.

A converted try from Scarlets winger Andrew Fenby ensured a less-than-comfortable finish for the hosts, but the Welsh region could not muster another score and Rob Moffat’s men continued on the winning trail after an entertaining and fast-paced game.

Giving his post-match reaction, the Edinburgh coach said: "It could have been better, but at least we got the win. I thought we were very sloppy and made far too many individual errors.

"With the amount of ball we had, we should have scored four tries and won a bonus point.

"We obviously have to win all our games now as it’s very tight at the top, even in terms of points difference, so every point is very important."

The value of this result might not be seen until the end of the league’s regulation phase as despite not playing to the best of their ability, Edinburgh took the verdict.

Moffat had to tweak his starting line-up beforehand with Ben Cairns (hamstring) and Nick De Luca (groin) forced out, with Jim Thompson moving into midfield alongside John Houston, Simon Webster added to the side and Mark Robertson positioned at full-back.

The Scarlets, who lined out without their Scottish winger Sean Lamont, hit the ground running and Priestland’s fourth-minute penalty was just reward for an impressive spell of play in and around the hosts’ 22.

Nigel Davies’ side looked really up for this tie and Edinburgh had to bide their time before Webster got a chance to stretch his legs and fly-half Godman punished the visitors for going offside, with a penalty in front of the posts.

It was Godman’s first start for Edinburgh since January and he was a key figure throughout, not only from the kicking tee.

He converted his second penalty on the quarter hour mark, following good work by Visser and Ross Rennie.

In the 26th minute, number 8 Grant scored a superb individual try. Backs and forwards combined brilliantly as Edinburgh’s offloading game clicked in gear, and then Grant caught a flatfooted Scarlets rearguard on the hop.

Robertson sent the ball skywards, Edinburgh regained it and Grant, unleashed outside the visitors’ 22, was able to weave his way through the Scarlets defence and scooted past the last defender to touch down under the posts.

But the Scarlets impressively hit back, just four minutes later, when prop Phil John finished off a fine handling move involving Priestland and skipper David Lyons.

Priestland added the conversion but missed a subsequent penalty effort as Edinburgh turned around at the interval with a 13-10 lead.

The Scarlets had the better of possession before half-time, and Kiwi centre Regan King was called back for crossing as he broke towards the Edinburgh try-line.

Crucially, Edinburgh added to their total just a minute into the second half. Skipper Mike Blair scampered into space, from the halfway line, and his kick through was gobbled up by the in-form Visser who dotted won in the left corner.

Godman’s missed conversion was followed by penalties from both place-kickers as the sides upped the tempo and the Scarlets went close to grabbing their second try.

Replacement hooker Matthew Rees charged down an attempted clearance by Blair and gathered to score from close range, only for his foot to creep into touch before he grounded the ball.

A dead leg forced Priestland off and his replacement Dan Newton was wide of the target from a penalty, before Edinburgh enjoyed a concerted spell of pressure and Godman dinked over a drop goal to extend the hosts’ lead to 11 points.

The Scarlets showed plenty of fighting spirit as Fenby caught past three defenders on the way to the whitewash and Newton’s conversion made it a four-point game.

In the end, they had to settle for a losing bonus point as Edinburgh, 17-16 winners at Parc y Scarlets back in December, hung on to complete a season’s double over the West Walians.