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Newport dent Edinburgh hopes

Published 08/05/2015

Hugh Gustafson scored Newport's only try but it was enough
Hugh Gustafson scored Newport's only try but it was enough

Edinburgh could have blown their chance of a Guinness Pro12 top six finish after a lacklustre display was punished by Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

They needed to win in Newport but could only muster one solitary try at the end from flanker Stuart McInally and did not come close to scoring until they woke up near the end.

The Dragons were not that pretty either but they got points on the board through a second-half try from replacement hooker Hugh Gustafson, plus three penalties and a conversion from fly-half Jason Tovey and a long-range penalty by full-back Tom Prydie.

The action that came in the second-half was a relief after a terrible first 40 minutes of turnovers, aimless kicking and hardly an attacking idea between the sides.

The nearest either team got to scoring a try was in the opening minutes when the Dragons drove Edinburgh to the goal-line and were held up in the goal area.

Therefore, the Dragons would have been the happier side going into the break with a 9-0 lead thanks to a 15-metre penalty from Tovey when Edinburgh infringed at a scrum early on and another 10-metre Tovey kick six minutes from time plus a Pyrdie 40-metre boomer with the last kick before the interval.

Otherwise, there was simply nothing to get the fans excited. Edinburgh were a shadow of the side that beat the Dragons at Murrayfield by a whopping 45-16 in the European Challenge Cup semi-final three weeks ago as they offered little in attack although, in fairness, they defended well.

And that was surprising for a side which was hoping to reach the top six in the league and, with it, a place in the European Champions Cup next season.

Edinburgh tight-head prop Willem Nel again showed how strong he is in the set-piece by taking former Leicester loose head Boris Stankovich to task.

And there were a couple of bone-shaking tackles in midfield from the Dragons, one particularly from flanker Nic Cudd that could be heard in the stands. But that was about it and the second-half could never be as poor as the first 40 minutes.

It started badly again, but the Dragons eventually found some inspiration after Nel was yellow carded for a ruck infringement.

They kicked to touch for an attacking line-out five metres out, which was well taken by inspirational lock Rynard Landman and Gustafson was at the back of the driving maul that drove over the Edinburgh line. Tovey added the extras.

Edinburgh offered nothing of any significance until 14 minutes from time when they came closest they had all game to getting a score.

They managed to reach inside the Dragons 22 and had a couple of attacking line-outs but, when the ball was sent down the right Sam Beard could only knock-on.

Back row Hamish Watson was about the pick of Edinburgh's side, with full-back Jack Cuthbert making inroads here and there.

And eventually Edinburgh got off the mark when they had a driving line-out on the Dragons line and quickly fed skipper McInally to go over for the converted touchdown.

However, Edinburgh must beat Leinster to have any chance of that sixth place next week which, on this evidence, will be a tall order.

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