Caledonia has been kind to Marcelo Loffreda down the years. A centre in the first Argentina team to beat Scotland, in Buenos Aires back in June 1994, he was unbeaten in two visits to the Scottish capital as coach of the Pumas – and also guided his country to victory in the World Cup quarter-final against the Scots last October, of course. Yesterday, at Ice Station Murrayfield, Leicester's coach of two months could only shiver in frustration as his club charges were frozen out of the Heineken Cup picture.
Needing a win to keep alive their hopes of Heineken Cup quarter-final qualification, the Tigers were left out in the cold by an Edinburgh side who are gaining serious momentum under Andy Robinson – yes, the same Andy Robinson whose tenure as England coach was sent into terminal decline by Loffreda's Pumas at Twickenham the November before last. The memory of thatafternoon must have made yesterday all the sweeter for the Edinburgh coach, whose workaholic, well-drilled side scored the game's only tries – courtesy of their outside-half Phil Godman in the first-half and hooker Ross Ford in the second – and rendered the Tigers a toothless shadow of the team that ran in five tries at Harlequins a week ago.
Edinburgh have now won six of their last seven matches in all competitions and have beaten Leinster and Leicester at home on the European stage. "It was all down to attitude," Robinson reflected. Loffreda did not disagree. "Edinburgh played with a lot of passion and heart and pressure," he said. "I think they are at the same level asan English Premiership team. Today they were bright and intelligent."
Which was more than could be said of Loffreda's team. Beaten finalists against Wasps at Twickenham last May, the Tigers can only lick their wounds and prepare to fight again next season, with Toulouse an unassailable six points clear at the top of Pool Six and with insufficient points in the bag to challenge for a best runners-up spot.
Their assets were frozen from the start yesterday, on a pitch sprinkled with snow. Though Andy Goode kicked two penalties in the opening 10 minutes, they never looked like buildinga solid platform – unlike Edinburgh, who steadily went about putting the bricks in place,with Mike Blair and Godman directing operations from half-back. Even the sending of lock Ben Gissing to the sin bin, aftera spot of handbags, failed to undermine them.
It came as little surprise when they nosed in front, three minutes before the interval, Godman breaking through the ghost of a tackle by Christophe Laussucq to score to the right of the posts and adding the extras with his right boot. Though Goode's third penalty sneaked Leicester the half-time lead, 9-7, Robinson's men remained resolutely on a roll.
They almost claimed another score eight minutes into the second half had George Chuter not killed possession when the bullocking Ally Hogg took the home side to within striking range.
Godman landed the subsequent penalty, though, and while Goode regained the lead with his fourth place-kick, Edinburgh effectively had the game in the bag in the 58th minute. Wing Ben Cairns got held up in the right corner but Ford, a dynamic presence all afternoon, applied the scoring touch. Godman converted and the stand-off could afford the luxury of a scuffed late penalty as Edinburgh completed a thoroughly merited victory.
Edinburgh: H Southwell; B Cairns, N De Luca, J Houston, S Webster; P Godman, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Kerr (A Allori, 72), M Mustchin, B Gissing (C Hamilton, 40), R Reid (A Macdonald, 59), R Rennie, A Hogg (capt).
Leicester: G Murphy; J Murphy, O Smith, A Mauger, T Varndell (D Hipkiss, 62); A Goode, C Laussucq (F Murphy, 66); M Ayerza, G Chuter, J White, L Deacon (J Crane, 64), B Kay, B Deacon (B Kayser, 56), T Croft , M Corry (capt).
Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland).Reuse content