Taylor's try helps Edinburgh past Blues
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: George Taylor’s first-half try helped Edinburgh edge past Cardiff Blues and maintain their lead at the top of Conference B.
The centre’s early score was the only try of the match in a closely-contested affair under the Murrayfield lights, as both sides struggled for fluency and encountered defiant opposition defences.
Blues rallied hard throughout the second period but it was not enough to produce a comeback, as Simon Hickey’s late penalties sealed a hard-fought 14-6 triumph for the hosts.
It was a compelling start in the Scottish capital as Edinburgh sought to make the most of a raucous atmosphere, and it came to fruition on just 12 minutes after brilliant work from Taylor.
The No.12 was rapidly onto the scene to charge down Dan Fish’s attempted clearance, before clinically gathering the ball to dot down in the corner.
And the game developed into an end-to-end contest as Blues pursued parity, but the Edinburgh defence held firm as Richard Cockerill’s men racked up an impressive 90 per cent tackle success rate at the break.
The home side looked to be going into half-time with a five-point advantage but fly-half Jason Tovey’s penalty on the cusp of the whistle was enough to reduce the deficit to just two ahead of a crucial second period.
The second half progressed in similar fashion as both teams repelled each other’s advances, as Cardiff’s powerful pack were met by defiant defensive resistance.
But Cockerill’s side begun to enjoy plenty of territory themselves, when good work from Michael Willemse at the maul helped set up a line-out that saw wing Eroni Sau go close in the corner.
The visitors mounted a late charge but it was not enough to breach the Edinburgh defence, who held on to ensure they will remain at the summit of Conference B.
Play of the day
In a game short of much-sustained quality the play of the day came through Taylor’s instinctive first-half try, predatorily charging down Fish’s kick to cross and clinch the critical breakthrough.
And that set the tone for the table-toppers, who were largely second-best throughout the latter stages but were able to thwart Blues’ advances to secure the win.
Man of the match
He may have started on the bench but it was Edinburgh’s Pierre Schoeman who was the standout performer for Cockerill’s side.
The replacement prop was a formidable force following his introduction on 45 minutes, gaining valuable metres and making several tackles for his side to help engineer an important victory.
Pens: Hickey 3
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Tovey 2
Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 James Johnstone, 12 George Taylor, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Fenton, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Sam Thomson, 20 John Barclay, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Chris Dean.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Ben Murphy, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Dan Fish.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Scotland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Report by @PRO14Official