Jonathan Davies: Paterson and Edinburgh lift a whole nation

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The Independent Online
The Heineken Cup is off to a very promising start and looks certain to be more of a tight and hard-fought competition than ever. Edinburgh are the early eye-catchers and their 32-16 victory over the Ospreys at Swansea on Friday night puts them on top of their group and set fair to be the first Scottish side to reach the knock-out stages.</p>Their win over Toulouse the previous weekend led Fabien Pelous to say that they were better than the Scottish national side. I saw them against Celtic Warriors earlier and they really are transformed. They have an excellent pack and a lot of pace behind, where Chris Paterson is playing out of his skin at outside-half. They are going to do wonders for Scottish morale.</p>I saw Leinster beat Cardiff 24-19 at the Arms Park on Friday night and they certainly have the strength and ability to go all the way. This was Cardiff's second narrow defeat in a row and although they are playing much better they still lack that crucial determination to do what is necessary to clinch victory.</p>It was an appalling night and although the pitch was playable the game was ruined by the drenching rain. It was so bad that there was only one tactic and that was to camp for as long as you could in the opposition half, play simple, mistake-free rugby and kick effectively.</p>Leinster cottoned on to that but Cardiff never did. They kept putting themselves under pressure in dangerous parts of the field and on a night like that with bodies sliding everywhere you are at the mercy of the whistle.</p>Both teams scored a very good try. Winger John McWeeney went over after an excellent handling movement to give Leinster a 10-3 lead. Towards the end of the game a solid Cardiff attack led to Jamie Robinson putting Tom Shanklin through.</p>But it wasn't a good try that settled the game. Flanker Keith Gleeson charged down a Iestyn Harris kick and splashed across the line. It was an expensive mistake and underlined the necessity to get height on your kicks when clearing out of defence. There are times when Iestyn kicks the ball like an Aussie Rules player. It goes point over point and can be very effective, but the trajectory is low and the ball is open to a charge down.</p>But Iestyn was handicapped by being Cardiff's only kicker. Leinster's outside-half, Christian Warner, was fortunate in having Brian O'Driscoll outside him. O'Driscoll has been working very hard on his kicking out of hand and has become very effective at it.</p>It makes a massive difference under those conditions. Iestyn had no such assistance. The centres weren't kickers and neither Rhys Williams nor Craig Morgan came in to help him.</p>What puzzled me was that Cardiff kept outside-half Nicky Robinson on the bench throughout the game. He is a very good kicker and if he had come on Iestyn could have moved to No 12, where he plays for Wales, and Cardiff would have had a left and right-footed kicking combination that may have swung the balance.</p>Cardiff have got to learn how to win. Like the other Welsh regions, apart from Llanelli, they have yet acquire that ruthless winning imperative. Winning is the only consideration. They should have won last weekend at Sale and could have won on Friday.</p>Cardiff's chairman has come under criticism for their lack of progress, and I'm sure they would benefit from hiring a director of rugby and signing a couple of fresh players, but the present lot have got the ability to prove the critics wrong, if only they'd knuckle down for every match and not just the ones on television. Sometimes they have too many show ponies.</p>There doesn't seem much doubt that Jonny Wilkinson is going to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award tonight but it would be a magnificent gesture if he was to hand the trophy to Martin Johnson.</p>I know all about the drop-kick drama - and it was wonderful - and I can't blame the voters. But everyone in rugby knows that the real hero of that match, and of the entire tournament, was Johnson. He would have brought home that cup on his own. </p>

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