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Late Try Seals Historic Win For Edinburgh

jmcconnell 2 May 2008

Edinburgh became the first Scottish side to beat the Ospreys away from home in the Magners League as a late try from flanker Alan MacDonald saw Andy Robinson’s men prevail at the Liberty Stadium.

Before this game, the Ospreys had entertained Scottish sides on 13 previous occasions in the league and won all of those encounters.

Edinburgh’s last gasp success was their first win in four away matches in all competitions and follows up on their impressive dismissal of champions-elect Leinster last time out.

The Ospreys were without a number of injured players, including Gavin Henson (ankle), Shane Williams (haematoma) and Mike Phillips (knee), but were still able to field a quality line-up.

In front of a 7,625-strong crowd, Edinburgh welcomed back their scrum half and captain Mike Blair, who had recovered from a head knock.

The visitors also gave prop Geoff Cross his first start since January, while Calum MacRae and Andrew Maxwell were notable inclusions in the back-three.

Edinburgh have a crowded treatment room at the moment but they put those injuries behind them to make a very positive start in Swansea.

Looking lively right from the off, Blair and company set about their task early on against the defending champions, whose title defence has failed to materialise in the final stretch of the season.

Edinburgh took the game to the hosts with their centres Nick De Luca and Ben Cairns combining well and bringing play up towards the Ospreys’ whitewash.

The Scots kept their patience and wore down the Ospreys defence with flanker Allister Hogg the man to get the seventh-minute touchdown.

Full-back MacRae converted but he was off target with a 13th-minute penalty attempt and either side of his missed kick, fly-half James Hook edged the Ospreys into the contest.

The Wales star knocked over penalties after 9 and 23 minutes to give his side a foothold and with more territory coming their way, Lyn Jones’ side began to look dangerous.

However, some stray passing let them down and they had to live off Hook’s place-kicking – the 22-year-old landed two more penalties to hand the Ospreys a 12-7 interval lead.

Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson was clearly upset about some of the decisions that went against his side, particularly when Ospreys scrum half Justin Marshall was not sin-binned for stamping at a ruck before half-time.

Marshall got away with it while Edinburgh try scorer Hogg, the player the Kiwi had stamped on, received a yellow card from referee Peter Fitzgibbon for killing the ball.

A penalty reversal allowed MacRae a late sight of the posts but he was wayward with his kick and the Ospreys remained five points in front.

Nevertheless, Edinburgh started the second half like a steam train with the game’s end-of-season feel continuing.

There were only two minutes on the clock when De Luca dummied his way over under the posts for an excellent try.

MacRae, Maxwell and Cross all had a hand in the build-up, while De Luca’s cool head allowed him to waltz through a flat-footed Ospreys defence and score.

The Welshmen almost hit back when a Sonny Parker-led attack had Aled Brew stretching for the line but the winger lost his grip on the ball at the crucial moment.

A yellow card for Cross, who was guilty of pulling down a maul, saw the Ospreys retake the lead thanks to a fifth penalty success from Hook.

15-14 is how it stayed, amidst a plethora of replacements, before Hook stepped up again in the 72nd-minute to boot the Ospreys further in front.

Four points was never going to be enough however, and Edinburgh deservedly took the spoils when they ran in their third try in the ninth-minute of injury-time.

The Ospreys were left shellshocked when MacDonald crossed in the left corner after a serious bout of pressure from the Edinburgh pack.

The conversion was missed but it did not matter as Edinburgh celebrated their first league win over the Ospreys since September 2005.

The defeat leaves the Ospreys down in seventh place and still trying to secure Heineken Cup qualification.

But their boss Jones praised the visitors afterwards for being ‘the first team to come to the Liberty this year in the Magners League and attempt to play rugby.’

Jones’ praise aside, Edinburgh now seem set to notch their best ever finish in the league, completing a good news day for Robinson who has secured the services of Scotland international Chris Paterson for next season.