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SAINTS 24 EDINBURGH 6: Dowson at the double as Saints stop Scots

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Anyone thinking early in the week that this pre-season friendly was going to be a walk in the park for the Saints would have had to consider their pre-conceptions again upon casting their eye on the teamsheet.


The visitors named nine internationals in their starting line-up, with a fair few more on the bench, and replacement James Craig – who got another half-hour of action under his belt to add to his 45 minutes away at Moseley on Thursday – said that the Pro 12 outfit gave Saints a good workout.


“It was obviously good for the boys to get a bit of game time,” the forward told SaintsTV. “Most of the lads played 60 minutes, while some of us also played last night.


“We said in the changing rooms that in a Premiership game we’re going to have to grind sides down, that defensively we’re going to have to be solid and that our fitness was going to come into play.”


And defence certainly proved itself as the Saints put three tries past the visitors while keeping their own line secure, with a Scot time and again finding himself on the floor after having been scythed down by a man in black, green and gold.


Edinburgh certainly had their fair share of the ball and territory in the early exchanges it was Saints who had the best try opportunities in the first quarter.


Jamie Elliott was beaten to a Ben Foden grubber by former club mate Greig Tonks, while GJ Van Velze fumbled close to the line after neat handling from Elliott and George Pisi close to the touchline.


And even though the latter brought a scrum for the visitors, a win against the head created another chance, Tom Wood bundled into touch while diving for the whitewash.


However Edinburgh opened the scoring through a Greig Laidlaw penalty just past the half-hour and asked plenty of questions of the Saints defence in the final 10 minutes of the half.


The hosts had all the answers then, unlike Edinburgh in the first 90 seconds of the second half. After having threatened the first time they had touched the ball after the restart, Saints got on the board in some style.


Lee Dickson tapped a penalty quickly, George Pisi ghosted past the first line of defence before feeding his brother, Ken, who turned on the afterburners to go past the scrambling Scots.


Stephen Myler added the conversion, but while this brought applause the noise level rose a couple more notches to acclaim Wood’s departure, the evening’s skipper leaving the field under his own steam after five minutes’ treatment after receiving a blow at the bottom of a ruck.


The stoppage seemed to rejuvenate Edinburgh more, however, and after Laidlaw landed his second penalty only tackles from Ken Pisi on Dougie Fife and Elliott on Tonks prevented the Scots re-taking the lead.


The work being put in on the back foot was certainly immense, and rewarded 10 minutes from time by Saints’ second try, Phil Dowson going over unopposed from close range after the forwards had driven a couple of lineouts to within sight of the whitewash.


That put Saints 11 points to the good, and when the move was replicated on the near side on the stroke of full-time the outcome was the same, Dowson for the try, Sam Olver this time with the conversion.


Next week Saints head to Dublin for their final shakedown ahead of the Aviva Premiership campaign, with Craig saying that the players will be looking to build on the results of the past fortnight before welcoming the Chiefs to the Gardens.


“It’s good for us to build a winning mentality going into the Leinster and Exeter games,” he added, “and we’ll certainly be looking to keep that winning streak going into the season.”


TEAMS

SAINTS – Foden (Wilson HT); K Pisi (Collins 62mins), G Pisi (Diggin 71mins), Burrell (Stephenson 62mins), Elliott (North 62mins); Myler (Olver 76mins), Dickson (Glynn 76mins); A Waller (Corbisiero 62mins), Haywood (McMillan 64mins), Mercey (Denman 55mins), Lawes (Dickinson 62mins), C Day (Clark 76mins), Clark (Nutley 62mins), Wood (c)(Craig 48mins), Van Velze (Dowson 42mins)


EDINBURGH – Tonks (Cuthbert 66mins); Fife, De Luca, Scott (Kennedy 16mins (Hidalgo-Clyne 66mins)), Jones (Brown 66mins); Francis, Laidlaw (c); Dickinson, Ford (Lutui 64mins), Nel (Cross 64mins), Gilchrist (Atkins 66mins), Van Der Westhuizen, Cox, Grant, Denton


TIMELINE

32mins EDIN Pen Laidlaw 0-3

HALF-TIME SAINTS 0 EDINBURGH 3

42mins SAINTS Try K Pisi Con Myler 7-3

56mins EDIN Pen Laidlaw 7-6

66mins SAINTS Pen Myler 10-6

71mins SAINTS Try Dowson Con Myler 17-6

80+1mins SAINTS Try Dowson Con Olver 24-6

FULL-TIME SAINTS 24 EDINBURGH 6