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TANGO AND CRASH

Edinburgh:34 (27) Cardiff:10 (3)



This week's news that the world's sexiest man, Big Dave Cherry, has re-signed for the Embramen had already had hearts a flutter and temperatures raised across the Embra city region.  This evening's display of super sensual rugby from the Gunners generated so much additional steam that the Met Office has just issued a red weather warning.  It was so hot, indeed, that Edinburgh Rugby's new playing style has been officially classified as Certificate 18 by the British Board of Film Control.  All that was missing was the participation of Hawick Heart-throb, ‘Mr Darcy’ Graham.

Emilio ‘The Boff’ Boffelli, inspired by his mentor, Baywatch’s David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff, shocked sensitive observers with the adventurous use of a hot water bottle to warm his lower back on exiting the park, job done, on the hour.The wardrobe malfunctions continued as replacement Charlie ‘Chico’ Shiel’s entry to the fray was delayed by several minutes as the tyro halfback struggled to remove his tracksuit trousers. But these were the only blots on the evening’s otherwise impressive copybook.

Particularly in an electrifying first period, the home side played with so much dash and elan that they blew the visiting Welshmen off the park.Once again, it was Edinburgh’s two Pumas, wing twins The Boff and Ramiro ‘The Eel’ Moyano, who sparked the rout.Few among the Embra tifosi are aware that they are, in fact, contractually obliged to touch down every game they play.Naturally, they duly ticked that box early on, on four and eight minutes respectively.They were both on fire throughout and gave the ex-Blues defenders a torrid time as Mike ‘Blade’ Blair’s gameplan demanded that the ball be shipped wide at every opportunity.To say that these two gentlemen have proved to be useful signings would be an enormous understatement.

But there were racy performances across the park as half backs Vellacott and Blairhorn orchestrated an attack that saw only full back Henry Immelman of the outside backs miss out on a touchdown in the first half.As ever, the King put in a regal performance and it is a joy to see him play with such confidence.It is also safe to say that Mark Bennett is back to his best.While it’s difficult to see him dislodging the world’s greatest ever 13, Chris Harris, from the starting slot in the national team, one hopes that he will be back in dark blue in some capacity soon.At times, it felt like watching Clive-era England, when one often wondered how anyone could possibly avoid a hammering so dangerous were they in attack.

This evening’s bonus point victory put the Gunners, albeit temporarily, ahead of Leinster at the top of the URC.Although this is just a moment in time, it is worth celebrating that milestone and the changed approach to the game that has delivered it.So far, the Embramen have managed to retain their Cockers-era strengths of power up front, strong defence and general cussedness.But the difference has been the addition of huge ambition in attack and the development of confidence in the players to execute what they’ve been asked to do and come up with good decisions when faced with new challenges.       

Edinburgh got off to a flyer in the DAM Health Stadium.James Lang broke from their 22 off turnover ball then found the linking Vellacott.The speedy half back put Moyano away for his legally mandated score from distance.It was only a matter of minutes before the other half of the tangoing couple, The Boff, crossed, benefiting from a great Bennett break.12-0 Embra on eight minutes and Cardiff hadn’t turned the key in the ignition, let alone got out of first gear.

The club formerly known as Cardiff Blues have had an incredibly tough time in recent months.Injuries and Covid at one point took out 46 players, leaving them scouring the Cardiff city region for anyone who knew which end of a rugby ball was which.The dirt trackers they fielded against Toulouse and Harlequins did themselves great credit, but head coach Dai Young would have been relieved that today’s squad had a more conventional look.The problem they appeared to have throughout the match was primarily rustiness on the part of players who have been through a lot and haven’t played together for some time.They will get back up to speed soon.But no-one in blue and burnt orange was complaining today.

After The Boff had knocked over a penalty on 17 minutes and Priestland had replied on 27, Bennett crossed off first phase ball, combining well with The Boff, whose fine conversion stretched the home advantage to 22-3.The bonus was secured just before the break, Ritchie putting Lang over after a super miss pass from The King.29-3 Edinburgh and this one was over as a contest.

Perhaps inevitably, the second period could not live up to the standard of the first.Cardiff had more ball and field position, but with handling errors letting them down too often.There were also some foolish penalties, notably by Ellis Jenkins, which were the result of trying too hard at times to claw back some points.But Owen Lane did score after a Kinghorn flip in midfield went astray.The Welshman kicked ahead and gathered beautifully to cross under the sticks to narrow the gap to 29-10.It was just reward for the visitors’ endeavours.

But it was Edinburgh who had the last word on 74 minutes.Appropriately it was Bennett who scored, taking the ball from halfway through heavy traffic, dummying and jinking through the cover to score behind the posts, van de Walt’s conversion completing the 24 point shellacking.

In truth, though, this was a match where the Embramen left a fair few points on the park.Yes, Cardiff did stem the flow in the second period and had their moments in attack.But, particularly against 14 men when both Cardiff’s hookers were injured, the Gunners had a whiff of Jim Baxter at Wembley 1967 about them.They looked like they were playing unopposed and were trying out a few trick plays.There is much, much more to come from this team.While the wider Embra squad provided an admirably hostile atmosphere by themselves this afternoon, hopefully it won’t be long before we are in attendance in person to witness it.

 

 

LA BELLA FIGURA

Edinburgh: 24 (10) Benetton: 10 (3)

Ciao bello/bella! After a late pre-season as a result of watching the Lions tour, a catastrophic IT failure and finally succumbing to Delta, I'm back (baby)!  But, on a brighter note, while the Embra tifosi must now endure my regular scribblings, positive things seem to be happening on the artificial turf in the Roseburn area.

The Embramen have been cutting a pretty jaunty look in the early weeks of this new URC season.  Whether it is the burnt orange change kit that reminds one of the legendarily chic Scotland change kit of the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the bearpit that the recently hanseled DAM Health Stadium has quickly become, or the very much more than  respectable second place they now sit after this evening's bonus point victory over a combative Benetton outfit, life looks pretty rosy. 

Naturally, they are a work in progress as Head Coach Mike 'Blade' Blair steers a revamp in thair attacking philosophy.  But, so far, they seem to have retained

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THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT WITH THE EDINBURGH YOUNG TEAM

Scarlets: 28 (14) Edinburgh: 28 (7)

We have all been through the ringer over the last 18 months.  Lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost freedoms that we have all taken for granted as we deal with a pandemic, something that few of us have ever experienced before.  Even for those who feel that they've coped pretty well, all things considered, there can be moments when it can all seem too much. 

So I was so pleased to receive this week Edinburgh Rugby's e-mail to supporters advertising the sale of season tickets for next season, which begins this Monday morning for some.  It is a sign that the return of some sort of normal life is not far away.  More than that, as the Embra tifosi contemplate their seating preferences for the bear pit that will be the Gunners' new stadium on the BT Murrayfield back pitches, Minifield, it is a sign that maybe the new normal will be better than the old.  

The visitors fielded an experimental side at Parc y Scarlets in their last match of this unique

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