Thompson fits the Bill with display of skill
Edinburgh 9 Stade Français 7
Sunday 24 January 2010
Before kick-off there was a minute's applause for the late, very great Bill McLaren. At the final whistle there were cheers for a notable home victory – and a matter of at least mild concern for the England team manager, Martin Johnson. Stade's English flanker James Haskell limped away from the action, six minutes from time.
McLaren, the voice of rugby, would have been a proud man as Edinburgh took the scalp of the French Fancy Dans, who seemed content to collect the losing bonus point they needed to make it to the last eight of the Heineken Cup. The golden boot of Chris Paterson was responsible for the points that secured the win for a side who were out of the qualification equation, but the sparkle in the limited attacking play they produced came from the 25-year-old in their No 11 shirt.
Jim Thompson is one of the rising stars of Scottish rugby. The full-back-cum-wing played a key role in the A team's Nations Cup success in Romania last summer and he has been invited to train with the Six Nations squad at St Andrews this week. Like Rory Lawson, the Gloucester scrum-half who has 17 caps, he happens to be a grandson of Bill McLaren. His fine performance yesterday was watched from the back of the West Stand by his late grandfather's beloved wife, Bette, and a strong family contingent.
The narrow margin of defeat for Stade meant that they topped Pool Four, rendering Ulster's victory at Bath a hollow one. That progress came at the cost of an injury to Haskell, although the former Wasps player said: "I twisted my knee going for a ball. It's a bit sore but the Stade doctor has had a look and doesn't seem worried. I'll be OK to join up with England."
The echo from the minute's applause had barely subsided when Thompson produced some attacking spark. Taking a flat pass from Paterson, he burst up the middle and shipped the ball on to the flanker Alan MacDonald, who was hauled down 10 metres short of the line. Edinburgh had the momentum and they took the lead in the 11th minute, Paterson landing a penalty that took him past Duncan Hodge as the Scottish side's record scorer in the Heineken Cup.
It took Stade until the second quarter to make an impression. Twice Lionel Beauxis, playing at full-back, kicked penalties to the corners instead of aiming for the posts. The tactic paid off in the 28th minute, when the lock Pascal Pape plucked the ball from the back of a ruck and stole five yards before depositing it over the home line.
Beauxis converted but Edinburgh came back to 7-6, Paterson kicking a second penalty. A third followed seven minutes into the second half and it was Edinburgh who went up a gear in the final quarter.
Again, it was Thompson who provided the spark. His fine break up the left in the 62nd minute might have yielded a try had the one support player at hand been a little more fleet of foot than Geoff Cross. The tighthead prop was hauled down by Haskell.
There was another dazzling break, up the same flank, by Thompson, though there proved to be just too many pink-shirted bodies to get past. It would have been fitting had the winger sealed the victory. With Paterson off, Thompson stepped up to take a 74th-minute penalty. "A wee bit inebriated," the Voice of Rugby might have called it, as it drifted wide. Still, the Edinburgh winger did his late grandfather proud yesterday.
Edinburgh C Paterson (capt) (S Webster, 52); M Robertson, B Cairns, N De Luca (J Houston, 40), J Thompson; P Godman, G Laidlaw; K Traynor (A Jacobsen, 65), A Kelly (R Ford, 52), G Cross, J Hamilton, S MacLeod (C Hamilton, 65), A MacDonald, R Grant, R Rennie (S Newlands, 34).
Stade Français L Beauxis; M Gasnier, G Messina, G Bousses (M Bastareaud, 47), D Camara; I Mieres, H Southwell; R Roncero (capt) (R Roncero, 66), D Szarzewski (B Kayser, 50), R Gerber (P Ledesma, 59), T Palmer, P Pape, J Haskell, J Leguizamon, Mauro Bergamasco (S Taylor, 53).
Referee: W Barnes (England)
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