Men’s Varsity Match: Small-Edwards makes big difference for Edinburgh

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James Small-Edwards lit up Murrayfield with a hat-trick of tries as Edinburgh University dominated the Men’s Varsity match against St Andrews to lift the silverware once again. Last year Edinburgh had edged the match 26-19, but this one was a far more one-sided affair, as David Adamson’s side ran in ten tries to to give them their third win on the spin in the fixture.

Scrum-half Small-Edwards is the son of Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards and M People singer Heather Small. As a result he might be used to the limelight and he showed great skill to take this game by the scruff of the neck. Second row Zak Redgrave, the son of GB Olympic great Sir Steve Redgrave, chipped in with two tries while full-back Henry Weir also impressed. St Andrews lost a number of players to injury during the match and were overrun by Edinburgh in the second half to leave them plenty to ponder.

Man of the match Small-Edwards, 22, said:  “It was brilliant. We implemented our game plan really well and we stayed very disciplined. Our kicking game, especially early on, carried us through and St Andrews struggled to get out of their own half.

“It’s pretty easy to play behind a pack like that. We have guys who have played in quite a few Varsity matches now and it told. Also, the younger guys who came into the team really fed off that experience and it just feels like the start for this team.”

Adamson, the Edinburgh Director of Rugby, said:  “We have quite a few powerful players in the team, and that stood us in good stead. That experience of the big occasion in our team also allows the side to keep the momentum going and made sure we never went off-script.”

Edinburgh took the lead early on thanks to a try from centre Suwi Chibale. That one was not converted, but in the 12th minute they did add a seven pointer. The try came from Redgrave with the conversion by stand-off George Wallington.

Things did not get any better for the Fifers before the interval, as they lost a couple of players to injury and conceded another two tries, with Small-Edwards and winger Harry Hitchens being the scorers. The latter score was converted by Wallington to make it 24-0 at the break.

There was an extended interval at half-time to allow for the women’s trophy to be presented to Edinburgh, but when the men’s teams returned to the field the one way traffic continued. Small-Edwards scored the fifth try and then Weir finished off a great move for number six. They were converted by Wallington and centre Adam Causer respectively and it was 38-0 to the team from the capital.

Replacement Harry Wells bagged number seven and when Weir scored a similarly well-worked converted try it was 52-0 after 63 minutes of play. With 11 minutes remaining Redgrave went over for his second of the day before Small-Edwards rounded things off.

St Andrews Director of Rugby Scott Lawson said:  “It was very tough. I thought Edinburgh were outstanding: they were physical and clinical and it was too much to deal with for our guys.

“There was no lack of effort from St Andrews – I’ve said to the boys I’m immensely proud of them. A game like that can get away from you. Our intensity and desire to give everything was not at fault, Edinburgh were just too good.”

 Teams –

Edinburgh University: H Weir; A Friend, S Chibale, A Causer, H Hitchins; G Wallington, J Small-Edwards; S Hodgen, J Boyle©, M Young, J Nelson, Z Redgrave, T Robertson, N Baines, M Crowther. Subs: W Cooke, N Brimacombe, T Fawcett, G Ignarski, A Dunhill, H Wells, A Bell.

St Andrews University: K Chan; I Stables, G Trickett, C Rhodes, F Mughal; C Murray, J Kelly; M Keane, J Morrison, M Phillipson, S Tue, A Whyte, C Galloway, A Lockie, A Hodgins. Subs: R Trusler, S Wright, P O’Leary, M Terry, A Boyes, J Appleton, A James.

Referee: S Grove-White.

Scorers – Edinburgh University: Tries: Chibale, Redgrave 2, Small-Edwards 3, Hitchins, Weir 2, Wells. Cons: Wallington 4, Causer, Wells.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0, 10-0, 12-0, 17-0, 22-0, 24-0 half-time, 29-0, 31-0, 36-0, 38-0, 43-0, 45-0, 50-0, 52-0, 57-0, 62-0.

Player of the Match: His team mates Zak Redgrave and Henry Weir pushed him close, but James Small-Edwards played with a zip and energy that got Edinburgh on the front foot and he takes home the award.

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