European Challenge Cup: Edinburgh 18-15 London Irish

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland at Murrayfield
Edinburgh avenged last weekend's defeat by London Irish
Edinburgh avenged last weekend's defeat by London Irish
European Challenge Cup
Edinburgh (13) 18
Tries: Brown, Hardie Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne 2 Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne 1
London Irish (8) 15
Tries: Ellis, Smallbone Pens: Geraghty 1 Cons: Geraghty 1

Edinburgh avenged last week's humbling at the hands of London Irish with a tense victory that draws them level with the Exiles in European Challenge Cup Pool 5.

Scotland flanker John Hardie scored Edinburgh's vital late try, adding to Tom Brown's first-half score.

Front-rows Gerard Ellis and Tom Smallbone touched down for Irish.

Grenoble's incredible 48-45 triumph over Agen keeps them top of the pool.

Finding uncharacteristic weaknesses in Edinburgh's fringe defence, the visitors struck first with eight minutes on the clock.

After the nimble Tom Fowlie danced his way beyond two slack tackles in the hosts' 22, hooker Ellis barrelled down the short side, assisted ably by his meaty colleagues to force the ball to ground in the corner.

Shane Geraghty failed to conquer the swirling Murrayfield gusts, missing his touchline conversion.

A break from stand-off Phil Burleigh sparked a promising spell for Edinburgh in the Exiles' 22, culminating in a rolling maul from which Hardie produced a neat snipe and offload to send Brown, jinking in off his blindside wing, over the line.

Tom Brown crosses the line for Edinburgh's opening try
Tom Brown crosses the line for Edinburgh's opening try

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne converted, and added a penalty to stretch the home lead.

Irish, however, continued to rumble through Edinburgh's fringe defence with alarming simplicity, Ellis again battling his way to the whitewash, the hosts doing just enough to keep the ball off the turf on this occasion.

The visitors' headway did yield three points for captain Geraghty, but this was rapidly cancelled out by Hidalgo-Clyne, who struck again before the break after a rousing Edinburgh scrummage dismembered the Irish eight.

After 20 minutes of largely forgettable rugby, displaying Edinburgh's capacity to pilfer possession impressively in their own 22, only to surrender it before making any real incisions, Irish made their pressure tell on the hour mark.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne contributed eight points with the boot
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne contributed eight points with the boot

Having been held up over the line, remarkably, for the third time, replacement Smallbone drove over to leave Geraghty a simple conversion and hand the visitors a 15-13 advantage.

Hidalgo-Clyne hooked a penalty wide, but it was his dart that ignited the finest attacking move of the game.

The scrum-half broke round a ruck on halfway, finding Brown - again haring in off his wing - on his inside shoulder before the ball was swept to the far side and the speeding Damien Hoyland, who was hauled into touch at the corner flag.

Solomons' charges did find reward for their verve in more accustomed fashion minutes later - Hardie once more detaching powerfully from a maul to catch Irish on the hop and score a crucial, but unconverted, try.

Edinburgh then spilled the kick-off, captain Mike Coman fumbling the ball on his own 22.

Fortunately for the hosts, as Irish bludgeoned their way towards the posts, they proceeded to cough up possession when it seemed they were certain to steal victory at the death, Edinburgh clinging on to preserve their qualification chances.

Edinburgh: Tonks, Hoyland, Allen, Scott, Brown, Burleigh, Hidalgo-Clyne, Sutherland, Ford, Nel, Bresler, A. Toolis, Coman, J. Hardie, Du Preez.

Replacements: Cuthbert for Tonks (57), Strauss for Scott (41). Not Used: Cochrane, Dell, Berghan, Ritchie, Bradbury, Kennedy.

London Irish: Ojo, Lewington, Fowlie, Williams, Fenby, Geraghty, Allinson, Court, Ellis, Franks, Sheriff, Rouse, Cowan, Gilsenan, Treviranus.

Replacements: Smallbone for Court (52), F. Mulchrone for Fowlie (67), Noakes for Geraghty (71), Steele for Allinson (79), Halavatau for Franks (76), Trayfoot for Rouse (57). Not Used: Stevens, Sisi.

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland).