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Edinburgh 31 Ospreys 25: Good win for hosts but a better one for rivals

A victory to raise Edinburgh spirits, but in practical terms the result may have been even better news for Glasgow as it put a sizable dent in the Ospreys' prospects of grabbing a RaboDirect PRO12 play-off place.

Dougie Fife, centre, is closed down by Ospreys pair Ashley Beck, left, and Scott Baldwin. Picture: Craig Watson/SNS
Dougie Fife, centre, is closed down by Ospreys pair Ashley Beck, left, and Scott Baldwin. Picture: Craig Watson/SNS

Edinburgh might rue the fact that, after claiming three tries in the first half, they could not kick on to grab the fourth, and a bonus point, in the second. That, though, did little to diminish the pleasure of their fans, who clearly relished the experience of watching their team in Meggetland's febrile surroundings, Murrayfield having been ruled out of action due to its current nematode worm infestation. "The atmosphere here was very, very good," said Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons. "The players made a point that the spectators were close to the action and that definitely helped the atmosphere for them."

The fans could also savour the ravenous performance of their pack, in which locks Grant Gilchrist and Izak Van der Westhuizen were outstanding. After a couple of recent defeats, the capital side put their show back on the road with style and energy, moving the ball with swift purpose and hitting the rucks and mauls with venom. Their set-piece was impressive, too, and they can look forward to the last few weeks of the season with real optimism.

With spectators packed on the banking opposite the main stand, the atmosphere even before the start was far better than the usual Murrayfield experience, and the crowd soon had a game worthy of their enthusiasm as both sides showed early intent to move the ball wide.

It was, though, the ambition of the Ospreys that gained first reward, with Canadian winger Jeff Hassler going over after just six minutes. The chance had been created from a lineout on the left, and the Welsh side were clinical through the phases as they worked the play to the other side of the pitch. Even so, it took a sublime touch by Test flanker Justin Tipuric, who produced a deft reverse offload, to put Hassler through.

It was an ominous start for Edinburgh, but they showed they were the equal of their guests just a few minutes later when they produced a bulldozing surge from a lineout near the Ospreys 10m line. As the forwards pumped their legs, they carried play well into the 22, where Grant Gilchrist slipped the ball back to Grayson Hart and the scrum-half scuttled through for his first try.

A conversion and then a penalty by Carl Bezuidenout put Edinburgh in the driving seat, 10-5 after 18 minutes, and they took firmer control soon afterwards when Sam Beard collected their second try, finishing off after a brilliant break by Jack Cuthbert.

Dan Biggar cut the deficit with a penalty in the 27th minute. However, the offence that brought those points also earned Geoff Cross a yellow card, which was probably of more concern to Edinburgh. Yet they girded themselves superbly, and far from being cowed for the next 10 minutes they took the game to Ospreys again.

Still with 14 men on the pitch, Edinburgh collected their third try when they hammered through umpteen phases, making ground with every one, to present a chance to Roddy Grant in the left-hand corner. The flanker was stopped just short, but as the Ospreys moved to the open side in anticipation of what was coming next, Hart fooled them superbly, plucking the ball off the ground and nipping down the narrow channel for his second touchdown of the evening.

Ospreys took another bite into Ednburgh's lead when Biggar landed a second penalty shortly before the break, and the Welsh side seemed to gather momentum in the third quarter when they brought the scoreline back to 22-17 with another two successful strikes from their fly-half.

That said, Ospreys showed no real penetration in that period, and Edinburgh managed to regain some ground with a 56th minute Bezuidenout penalty. At that point, Ospreys brought a raft of replacements off the bench, upped their tempo, and collected their second try when Hassler sprinted after a kick ahead and won the race to the ball.

Yet a score that could have broken Edinburgh hearts seemed to galvanise them instead, and the Scots dominated what was left of the game. Bezuidenhout clipped over a couple of penalties to put Edinburgh into the comfort zone, and Ospreys were probably flattered by the late penalty that allowed them to salvage a loser's bonus near the finish.

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