Blair: We showed different sides of our game
Head Coach Mike Blair has praised his side’s adaptability as the capital side fought back to claim a decisive road win at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 17-15 at the break, Edinburgh were able to switch up to a more direct and set-piece focussed style of play in the second period, with replacement hooker Paddy Harrison grabbing the game-sealing score late in the match.
“We’re really pleased with the result. I think we showed different sides of our game,” said Blair.
“We were really good in attack and shifted the point of contact in the first 15-20 minutes, but then Cardiff came back and their lineout drive was excellent.
“We had to change the way we were playing to find that victory. I thought the way we scrummed in that second-half was brilliant while our maul defence was much better too and the way we defended our own line – it was a really good turnaround from the guys.
“I think the first 10, 15 minutes, we showed a lot in attack and were shifting the ball. But then the bit that won us the game was a bit of grunt from the forwards, understanding of how to play territory and good decisions around the breakdown not to give penalties away.
“A bonus point at the end would have been nice, but there was some excellent stuff and I’m really pleased to go into the break with the win.”
Blair made the decision to bring on lock Marshall Sykes at the break, with the Scotland cap proving a menace at set-piece, where he was able to disrupt the Cardiff lineout drive which had proved dangerous in the opening 40 minutes.
“Marshall’s superstrength is disrupting mauls and basically being a pain,” Blair said after a victory which kept his team securely in fifth place in the 16-team table.
“Cardiff were probably getting too much change out of the maul. We were happy with how Pierce did, but Marshall coming on at half-time was really good for us.
“I don’t think it was necessarily the best performance of the season, but it was definitely one of our better wins,” the coach continued. “It wasn’t your stereotypical performance of how the outsider has seen Edinburgh this year.”
Edinburgh were without 18 players due to both international selection and injury which gave others the opportunity to step-up, with club centurion Chris Dean shining bright in a player of the match performance.
“We’ve tried to build an expectation of performance. You come into perform, you don’t just come in to play.
“We’ve tried to manage guys so they are getting plenty of game time in the FOSROC Super6. So they’re coming in, ready to perform – so we’ve certainly seen a step up with that regard.
“There is really good competition around 12 in the squad and we see inside-centre as a really pivotal position in our attack.
“It takes away a bit of responsibility away from the stand-off and I thought Chris [Dean] really stepped up. He’s a great leadership figure too and he actually carried the ball a bit more than he usually does too – he cut some great lines in attack.”
The Edinburgh Rugby squad will now get the chance to recover with a short break during the Autumn Nations Cup period, with the club’s next fixture away to Benetton on Saturday 26 November (kick-off 1pm).