Edinburgh’s Guinness PRO12 season finally got a lift with an astonishing comeback victory against Dragons to end their nightmare run of defeats.
Staring a tenth loss in the face at 20-3 down with ten minutes remaining and a man down, the capital side somehow rallied with tries by Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and the winner deep into added time by skipper Grant Gilchrist.
Dragons, who hadn’t won away from home for nearly four years, were definitely worth their handsome lead as they played by far the better rugby while the home side were probably the poorest they had been in their nine-match losing run.
However once again when they were given a sniff the men in black and red showed they were capable of flowing rugby, and once the first try was scored they poured forward with renewed self-belief.
There was agony for the home crowd as three Edinburgh tries went to TMO scrutiny but thankfully the last two were ruled favourably, Gilchrist going over for the final score fully two and a half minutes after the 80 minutes were up.
Edinburgh had plenty of possession in the first half but seemed to catch white line fever whenever they got close while Dragons took their only real scoring chance of the half.
A strong series of phases with pick and goes did make ground for Edinburgh into the visitors’ 22 but the move stalled and they were grateful for a penalty at the breakdown allowing Jason Tovey to kick them ahead.
However while the home side got into the Dragons’ 22 easily enough they struggled to make any ground when they got there. Damien Hoyland lost possession close to the corner flag before big Fijian Bill Mata was pushed into touch in the same area.
George Hunter’s knock on brought the next move to an end but in contrast the Dragons seized upon a rather fortunate chance to stun the home crowd.
Hoyland’s long clearance kick took a wicked bounce near halfway and two Edinburgh players collided going for it, Tovey staying on the floor injured as Dragons counterattacked with intent to work space for wing Pat Howard to score, Angus O’Brien converting.
O’Brien’s penalty after Allan Dell was penalised at the scrum took Dragons to 10-3 ahead at the break.
Dragons sensed blood and they went for it straight after the half-time break, open-side Nic Cudd nearly breaking through on a solo run before they moved it wide slickly for Carl Meyer to score in the corner, and O’Brien converted from the touchline.
Edinburgh needed to bounce back quickly but a chance after a charge down was missed when Junior Rasolea fumbled with a man overlap outside him.
Hoyland then broke through but slipped as he tried to sidestep the last man, and even when Edinburgh did cross the line through replacement Kinghorn it was called back and Dell was yellow-carded for leading with the shoulder in a clearout earlier in the move.
Instead O’Brien landed a second penalty after the home pack were again penalised at the scrum before Kinghorn finally got a try that counted after Dragons scrum-half Charlie Davies was sin-binned with eight minutes remaining.
Edinburgh came again in the dying minutes and Tovey’s inside pass to Hoyland produced another try, again converted by the stand-off, but it seemed impossible with a minute and a half left that they’d have time for a third try to win it.
Instead they kept the pressure on and kept forcing penalties against a retreating Deragons defence, Tovey broke through but was hauled down close to the line and Cudd saw another yellow card.
But from the resultant tap penalty under the posts Edinburgh went the direct route and the skipper was driven over for the unlikely winner, with the conversion added after another TMO torture.
Edinburgh: G Bryce; D Hoyland, C Dean, J Rasolea, R Scholes; J Tovey, N Fowles; A Dell, G Turner, S Berghan; G Gilchrist (capt), B Toolis; V Mata, H Watson, C du Preez.
Replacements: R Ford for Turner 57, M McCallum for Dell 70, J Hardie for Mata 74, S Hidalgo-Clyne for Fowles 48, B Kinghorn for Rasolea 61.
Dragons: C Meyer; A Hughes, S Beard, J Dixon, P Howard; A O’Brien, C Davies; T Davies, R Rhys Thomas, B Harris; M Screech, C Hill; L Evans (capt), N Cudd, O Griffiths.
Replacements: R Buckley for Rhys Thomas 66, C Mitchell for Harris 66, R Landman for Screech 66, G Rhys Jones for Beard 70.
Ref: D Jones (WRU)