A GUTSY performance in foggy conditions that verged on the farcical produced a valuable first home win of the season for Edinburgh last night. A try in either half, from debutant Lee Roy Atalifo and then hooker David Cherry, laid the foundations for the victory, with Nathan Chamberlain adding the rest of the points with his boot.

After their first win of the season at Scarlets last night, this was another display of character and composure from Richard Cockerill’s side, and the performance was all the more commendable given the patchwork nature of the side.

“It’s a good win,” Cockerill said. “I thought the players applied themselves well. “The weather conditions got pretty bad and we made a little bit hard work of it from the kick-off in the second period. But with the guys we had missing and the issues we have around injury the boys played exceptionally well and we deserved to win.”  

Conditions were foggy yet benign in the first half, but visibility got steadily worse after the break. First some box kicks were hard to track, but then, as the haar thickened only the near touchline and the first ten yards of the infield were clearly visible from the West Stand. In the end, though, that hardly mattered, as Edinburgh stuck to their task to pick up four more much-needed points.

The match began in encouraging fashion for the home team, with two periods of sustained possession culminating in Chamberlain opening the scoring with a 25-metre penalty. The Cardiff line had not really been threatened, but the home team had stuck to their task assiduously to force the opening.

They were soon back on the offensive, as well, but again were unable to force their way far into the 22 against a well-drilled defence. This time the attack ended with a penalty to Cardiff, allowing them to clear their lines. As the first half approached its midway point, however, that defensive solidity had not translated into any go-forward ball for the Blues, partly because of their own unforced errors, but also thanks to a couple of crunching tackles from Eroni Sau.

When the visitors did finally get some width on the ball, they soon conceded a penalty, which Edinburgh sent to touch deep into the Blues’ 22. The initial drive was held, but a series of pick-and-goes edged closer to the posts, then prop Atalifo finished off. Chamberlain converted to take his team into double figures.  

Stung into action by falling further behind, Cardiff upped the tempo and soon won a penalty 30m out. Jason Tovey’s kick looked on target all the way, but it bounced off the far post and back into play for Edinburgh to clear.

Despite that failure, the move was the first real warning sign for the home defence, and the closing minutes of the half found them under heavy pressure again. They were equal to the challenge, however, and a spilled ball allowed them to clear their lines and add the half 10-0 to the good.

That lead was under severe threat straight from the restart as a breakdown penalty went to touch and the Blues forwards put together a similar drive to the one that had produced Atalifo’s try. That one was stopped, as was a second on the opposite side of the field. 

Edinburgh then got back on to the front foot, and a penalty for offside was sent to touch. Cherry threw in then got on the end of the maul, and a sustained effort ended with the hooker touching down. Chamberlain’s conversion attempt drifted just wide.

With props Dan Gamble and Sam Grahamslaw on for their debuts, Cockerill’s side had some late half-chances to extend their lead. There was one clear-cut opportunity, however, and that was the one that counted, as Chamberlain ended the game with his second successful penalty.


Edinburgh: J Blain; E Sau, M Bennett, C Dean (J Johnstone 74), J Farndale; N Chamberlain, H Pyrgos (captain) (N Groom 78); P Schoeman (S Grahamslaw 77), D Cherry (M Willemse 54), L Atalifo (D Gamble 53), A Ferreira (M Sykes 66), J Hodgson, M Bradbury, L Crosbie (C Boyle 68), A Miller. Unused substitute: C Shiel.

Cardiff Blues: H Amos; A Summerhill (M Morgan 54), G Smith, M Llewellyn, O Lane; J Tovey (B Thomas 48), L Jones (J Hill 49); B Thyer (C Domachowski 43), K Dacey (captain) (E Lewis 65), D Arhip (S Andrews 54), J Ratti (B Murphy 54), R Thornton, J Turnbull, O Robinson, W Boyde (S Moore 18). 

Referee: A Brace (Ireland).

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Atalifo, Cherry. Con: Chamberlain. Pens: Chamberlain 2.