Edinburgh 18-10 Manchester
Watching the first half of Edinburgh University Rugby Club’s match against Manchester University last week at Peffermill, one would never have guessed it was the squad’s first year in this BUCS Premier League.
The team was dominating possession, winning scrums handily, and shutting down any Manchester player that stood a chance of breaking through Edinburgh’s rock solid defence. It seemed that even the players themselves forgot the calibre of the league in which they were competing.
“I felt the guys maybe thought they had won the game by halftime, and just kind of stepped off the gas a wee bit,” Coach David Adamson said.
It was perhaps this complacency that meant Edinburgh only emerged with a 18-10 victory, having played significantly better rugby than Manchester.
For the first 40 minutes, the match looked like it could have been a rout. Manchester tried to use some of their faster runners and creative plays to get around or through the Edinburgh defence, but a few missed passes on their part and strong tackles on Edinburgh’s kept Manchester’s end of the scoreboard empty for the first half.
Manchester’s defensive line, however, was a different story: despite Edinburgh’s strong offensive efforts, their first points of the game came only through penalties.
It took until later in the half for Edinburgh to expose weaknesses in the right side of Manchester’s defence. Once they did, Rory Jones made an explosive run down the wing and laid the ball off to Neil Pearston for the match’s first try.
For the rest of the half Manchester’s players were visibly frustrated – their agitation manifesting itself the roughness of every tackle, ruck, and scrum.
That tension was eased when they broke through Edinburgh for their first try early in the second half. With the conversion, just four points separated the two teams, and it seemed that Edinburgh might have lost the initiative.
“(The game) didn’t flow,” Adamson said. “It was very static at times, making the wrong decisions. We didn’t play to our game plan of what we practiced, so that’s where we broke down a bit.”
The second half showed this; Edinburgh had less of the smooth execution they did in the first half and Manchester shut them down more easily. Edinburgh regained their strength briefly enough for Rob Cuthbertson to score the game’s final try from a central position, and convert it, to bring the final score to 18-10.
It might not have been the blowout Edinburgh expected after outplaying Manchester in the first half, but as Adamson put it: “A win’s a win.”