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University continue to ride wave of success with victory over St Andrews
Saturday, 22 November, 2008 | 13:03
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Edinburgh University were buoyed by their recent good form to record a 19-11 win over SUSA league strugglers St Andrews.

The result comes on the back of three consecutive successes that have lifted the club from the drop zone in National One and put them back into contention for the Scottish Universities League.
Early losses in the SUSA league to Dundee and Aberdeen were reminiscent of the lack of cohesion and direction the club demonstrated last season.

Furthermore, in National One, the university had failed to adopt the expansive style of rugby needed to compete at the top. However, the overarching problem over the past 15 months has been simply a failure to finish.

Luckily, November has provided somewhat of a turnaround for the capital side. After a decisive 34-16 home victory over Aberdeen a fortnight ago, the club went on to gain important away points against Preston Lodge and Dalziel in the National Leagues, before narrowly overcoming old rivals St Andrews, a match which displayed a new found sense of belief in the players, as well as the clinical nature of their finishing.

The opening exchanges were certainly marred by the blustery conditions, with neither side really able to dominate possession and faltering line-outs at both ends.

The home side were able to put together the best move of the first half, demonstrating their willingness to get the ball to the wide areas. After a turnover, the ball was moved slickly through numerous pairs of hands allowing left wing Rick Wright to scuttle down the touchline for the score. Fly half Ian McGhee’s long range conversion sailed over to give his side a seven-point lead.

St Andrews responded by successfully converting two penalties and Edinburgh were left ruing their indiscipline at the breakdown.

Edinburgh rung the changes at half -time and quickly pushed further in front. The surging runs of centre James Pang kept the St Andrews midfield on their toes and his break early in the second-half resulted in a try for debutant scrum half John-Paul Stitchbury, before McGhee stepped up to add the extras from under the sticks.

However, as the home side were beginning to gain the upper hand in possession and territory, St Andrews capitalised on a series of unforced errors in the Edinburgh 22, resulting in a try for the visitors.
The try brought St Andrews within three points at 14-11, however, Edinburgh soon put the tie out of reach as the ever-present Pang found himself on the end of a well-worked overlap, putting a further five points on the scoreboard for the hosts. McGhee couldn’t find his mark with the kick and the match score was 19-11.

Edinburgh coach Dale Lyon summed up the performance of his side, saying: "There are still many areas we can improve upon but we won the game simply through an overall belief in our abilities as individuals and in the team."

First XV Captain Jamie Doubleday added: "Much of the success has to be accredited to the coaching staff we now have in place. Dale has the experience of numerous seasons at the university and has been involved with a number of successful teams in the past.

"In addition, new backs coach Luis Arola has really been a revelation in developing the expansive nature of rugby we strive towards. Every player in the team knows the benefits of hard training and I am glad our efforts are starting to show."

In past seasons the term, ‘Fortress Peffermill’, used to describe the university home ground, has always been tinged with a certain sense of irony. However, with the university clearly riding on a wave of recent triumphs, the players seem set on making the Fortress live up to is title, presenting a far more daunting prospect for visiting sides.


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