University of Edinburgh make it three in a row at BT Murrayfield

James Small-Edwards dives over for a score in this year’s Men’s Varsity match at BT Murrayfield.

The University of Edinburgh Men’s side made in three in a row this afternoon as they beat the University of St Andrews 62-0 at BT Murrayfield.

The result means that it was a double win for the capital institution at this year’s Varsity matches.

It was St Andrews to kick off in the second of the day’s Varsity matches, and the opening exchanges were cagey as each side looked to test the other. 

A penalty inside the St Andrews half gave Edinburgh prime opportunity to do so, and kicking to the corner, they did as their female counterparts had done an hour earlier and opened their account first with centre Suwi Chebale crossing the try-line for the games first score in the sixth minute.

St Andrews looked to hit back immediately, and held possession well, working their way into the Edinburgh half before a fumbled pass saw their attack fizzle out.

Minutes later another penalty gave Edinburgh good field position once again, and after winning the line-out from the kick to touch, the local side extended their lead with second-row Zak Redgrave trundling over from close range. Stand-off George Wallington added the extras to make it 12-0 Edinburgh after 10 minutes.

Edinburgh continued to press the advantage, pinning St Andrews back into their 22, but the Fife side managed to escape unscathed, exiting effectively and taking play to just inside their half. Edinburgh were back soon after, though, and this time scrum-half James Small-Edwards darted over from the base of a scrum five metres from their opponents line. Wallington’s conversion was wide of the mark, making the score 17-0.

St Andrews then looked to have steadied the ship, working the ball well in the backs to make their way into the Edinburgh 22 for the first time in the game. A penalty for offside then gave the visitors their most serious attacking opportunity, and they kicked to the corner in search of a try of their own. Edinburgh rose the highest in the line-out though, and the chance was gone.

In the 28th minute, Edinburgh found themselves them in the St Andrews half again, and after building several phases of pressure, they looked to be in for their third of the afternoon with a break down the left by Harry Hitchens, but an excellent tackle by St Andrews winger Isaac Stables shepherded his opposite man into touch.

With halftime approaching, Edinburgh won a penalty after a dominant scrum time, and kicked to the corner in search of another score before the end of the first period. The St Andrews line-out got the better of Edinburgh’s, however, and the men in light blue stole possession back to allow them to exit, their try-line unbreached.

The capital club was back for more soon after though, and a good break down the left was finished off by winger Hitchens, who paced down the touchline to dot down for his side’s fourth of the afternoon. Wallington’s shot at goal was on target this time, and Edinburgh’s lead was 24-0 on the stroke of half-time.

HT: 24-0

Edinburgh kicked off in the second half, and immediately went on the offensive, after winning the ball back from the restart. A good break down the left came to nothing though, as an Edinburgh pass hit the deck and bobbled into touch.

The local side weren’t to be denied for long, however, and Small-Edwards nabbed his second of the afternoon in a style reminiscent of his first, diving over from close range from the base of a driving maul. Stand-off Wallington’s boot was once again on the mark, taking the score to 31-0.

St Andrews then made a foray into the Edinburgh half, with a good break by replacement Archie Boyes taking his side into their opposition’s 22. An Edinburgh infringement at the breakdown then gave the Fife institution a chance to kick to the corner, which they duly took, but a misfire at the line-out saw the chance go begging. 

The visitors continued to persist, and another penalty kept the side in striking distance of the Edinburgh line. But much to St Andrews’ dismay, after turning the ball over metres from their own line, the Edinburgh side broke up the far flank, with fullback Henry Weir running in their sixth score of the game and Wallington converting to make it 38-0.

And Edinburgh did not let up as winger Arthur Friend powered down the near touchline moments later before being brought down by St Andrews winger Fezan Mughal in what looked to be a superb try-saving tackle. The Edinburgh wide man, though, lofted the ball to the supporting Harry Wells, who touched down for another converted score, with centre Adam Causer this time adding the extras.

Then on 61 minutes, Edinburgh had another when Weir ran through the St Andrews defence unchallenged, dotting down for his second of the day. Wells converted the score from right in front, taking the score to 52-0.

With the game entering its latter stages, Edinburgh continued to camp themselves in the St Andrews half. A stabbed kick through forced the visiting side to carry the ball over their own line, and Edinburgh had a scrum five metres out. After winning the scrum, they shipped the wall wide before Redgrave claimed a brace from the base of a ruck. The conversion sailed wide leaving the score as 57-0 with 10 minutes to play.

St Andrews continued to search for their first try, and good handling and a powerful midfield break by Scottish Student Stephen Tue saw them work their way to within metres of the Edinburgh line. Ill discipline at one of the subsequent breakdowns, though, killed the St Andrews attack with Edinburgh exiting to just outside their half.

Then, after powering their way into the St Andrews 22, Edinburgh looked to be in with a chance of claiming their tenth of the day, but an excellent last-ditch intervention by St Andrews captain Alex Hodgins dislodged the ball from Edinburgh hands at the last moment. 

There was little St Andrews could do minutes later though, as a grubber through the St Andrews defence bounced cruelly over the head of defending wing Mughal for Friend to claim the ball and offload to Small-Edwards, who dived over for his hat-trick score with less than five minutes to play.

With the score 62-0, Edinburgh continued to look for more tries, and they came very close to finding one when Player of the Match Small-Edwards made an excellent outside break down the near touchline. The scrum-half then fed replacement hooker Will Cooke, who looked to have a clear run for the line, but an brave covering tackle by St Andrews’ Stables saw the game end at 62-0.

FT: 62-0

Player of the Match: James Small-Edwards (Edinburgh)

Image caption: Player of the Match James Small-Edwards dives over for a score in this year’s Men’s Varsity match at BT Murrayfield. Credit: Rugby People

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