These are unsettling times for the Scot at No 10. Nothing new there. Even when Gregor Townsend was wearing the outside-half's jersey for Scotland, there were those who deemed him too much of a maverick, too inconsistent – not least the management, who were wont to move him out to the No 13 slot or wider still, to the bench. Not since Craig Chalmers has any player been truly secure in the position for Scotland.
Since his installation as national head coach last summer, Andy Robinson has turned to Phil Godman, pinning his faith in the Edinburgh fly-half, who was a one-time understudy to Jonny Whathisname down at Newcastle Falcons, and giving the cold shoulder to Dan Parks, a proficient exponent of the kicking game and a stand-out stand-off at Magners League level but a one-dimensional merchant on the international stage.
Having stuttered through Scotland's autumn tests and been out-manoeuvred by Parks in Edinburgh's defeats against Glasgow over the festive period, Godman – hampered by a hip problem as well as a loss of form – was rested for the Magners League visit of Cardiff Blues to Ice Station Murrayfield on Saturday. Into the breach came Rory Hutton – "a bright spark," as Rob Moffat, Edinburgh's head coach, quipped at the post-match conference, to groans all round.
The Fourth Estate had already penned their punning dispatches about the qualified electrician sparking the Scottish side to attacking life and, ultimately, to victory. And this on the occasion of the 22-year-old Borderer's formal debut for Moffat's men.
Hutton did play in a pre-season friendly at Newcastle but this was his first competitive appearance for Edinburgh. Which made his game-breaking influence all the more impressive.
Five minutes before half-time, with the scores tied at 6-6 and the home side butchering attacking opportunity, Hutton took the occasion by the scruff of the neck with a 15-yard break that came to grief when Leigh Halfpenny intervened five yards from the line, but which was given try-scoring momentum as the new boy popped up a pass for flanker Ross Rennie to carry the ball over the whitewash. It was no flashing spark in the pan.
Two minutes into the second half, the new boy split the Cardiff defence with another bit of nifty footwork, his half-break setting in motion an attack that culminated with winger Jim Thompson dotting down in the left corner. After four barren games, Edinburgh had two tries in seven minutes. They had the game in the bag, too. And for that they had to thank the back-row brilliance of Rennie and Roddy Grant as much as the inspiration of their fledgling fly-half.
Hutton, who has been playing his club rugby for Heriot's this season, remains a good way from the finished article. His passing and kicking are not the smoothest. Nonetheless, as Moffat enthused on Saturday: "In any game he plays he'll make a break or two."
The chances are that Godman will be restored at No 10 for Edinburgh's Heineken Cup tie away to Ulster on Friday and for Scotland's Six Nations Championship opener against France at Murrayfield on 7 February. Still, Robinson needs all of the talent he can muster in that department and in Hutton and Glasgow's Ruaridh Jackson, back in action now after a shoulder dislocation, he appears to have not just one but a couple of bright spark fly-halves for the future.
Edinburgh: Tries Rennie, Thompson; Conversion Paterson; Penalties Paterson 3. Cardiff: Penalties Sweeney 3, Halfpenny.
Edinburgh: C Paterson (capt); J Thompson, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser; R Hutton (M Robertson, 60), G Laidlaw; A Jacobsen (K Traynor, 76), R Ford (A Kelly, 71), D Young, J Hamilton, S MacLeod (C Hamilton, 57), S Newlands (F McKenzie, 57), R Rennie, R Grant.
Cardiff: L Halfpenny; R Mustoe (G Thomas, 73), C Laulala, J Roberts, T James; C Sweeney (D Flanagan, 73), G Cooper (R Rees, 53); S Hobbs (S Andrews, 71), T Thomas, T Filise, D Jones, P Tito( capt; B Davies, 62), A Pretorius, M Williams, A Powell.
Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).Reuse content