Nerveless fly-half Phil Godman kicked a late drop goal to guide Edinburgh past Cardiff Blues on Friday night and to their fourth Magners League victory in a row.
In wet and very trying conditions, Edinburgh snapped up the four points with a determined display against a Blues side that were hoping to go top of the table.
The win moves the Scots up to third place and while the losing bonus point has Cardiff temporarily level with table-toppers Leinster, Dai Young’s side seem a good way off their early season form.
Edinburgh’s success was even more impressive given that they were down to 13 men for a period during the first half.
Centre Nick De Luca (30 minutes) and lock Matt Mustchin (34) both saw yellow in quick succession. Cardiff did nab a converted try during that period through their captain Xavier Rush, but the home side frustratingly could not convert pressure into points.
Watched by Wales’ new elite performance director Graeme Maw, Cardiff struggled to make an early impression and were left trailing when winger Andrew Turnbull burst over for an eighth-minute Edinburgh try.
Having been on the attack, the Blues were put on the retreat by a raking kick from Ben Cairns. From the resulting lineout, Jason Spice’s clearance kick was a poor one and his side were caught out when Simon Webster ran the ball back and Godman made use of an overlap to put Turnbull over.
Godman failed to add the conversion and it was not until late in the half that Edinburgh were overhauled. The Blues took over, possession and territory wise, but their scoring chances were limited until the Scots had their two players sin-binned.
There was plenty of huff and puff from the hosts as Tom Shanklin and Rush carried with menace and had it not been a slippery ball, Robin Sowden-Taylor and Dafydd Hewitt might not have both fumbled within metres of the try-line.
For infringing at a ruck, De Luca was banished to the sideline and Mustchin followed him for not rolling away. The Blues took their chance and quick scrum ball sent Rush barrelling towards the line – there was no stopping the New Zealander from eight metres out and it was try time.
Ben Blair stepped up to knock over the simple conversion but the Blues failed to build on their 7-5 advantage either side of half-time.
As the game turned into a mud-fest, play was cramped between the 22s for much of the second period. A 58th-minute penalty allowed Godman to regain the lead for the Scots, who were relieved to be back to full strength.
Eight minutes from the finish, the Cardiff forwards won a penalty which full-back Blair fired through the uprights, drawing lusty roars of approval from the 6.125-strong attendance.
Nonetheless, Edinburgh roared back and built up enough momentum for influential scrum half Mike Blair to tee up Godman for the match-winning kick.
Afterwards, coach Andy Robinson praised the character and attitude shown by his Edinburgh players, who put in ‘a really good defensive effort.’
The Scots will need to keep their wits about them as they face into a testing run of games against Leicester, Toulouse and Munster.
For Cardiff, this could turn out to be quite a costly defeat. The Blues’ season could slip away from them unless they rediscover the sort of form which saw them beat Stade Francais last month.