It was an important weekend for Edinburgh Rugby as both the men’s and woman’s teams stepped out for vital clashes.

The men’s team were sitting in sixth place on the URC table after nine rounds and looking to both solidify their position within the top eight playoff area and try to sneak up the table to target a top four home advantage. Sean Everitt was quoted as saying the next two games were ‘vitally important’ to the club and indicated they were targeting nine points from the next two matches.

Zebre’s defensive record this season has been solid so Everitt selected a strong side to send over with a number of international players released from the Scotland squad including man of the moment Harry Paterson, fresh on the heels of his strong debut v France.

Zebre started strong with a try in the first few minutes which they built on in the first half with a penalty. With only a penalty to show in the first half from Edinburgh we went in to the break 10-3 down. My biggest concern at the half time point was the speed of delivery of the ball at the ruck, the slow presentation and redistribution of the ball meant Zebre’s defense always had time to prepare making it harder for us to break through. First half the team also seemed a bit sluggish, the intensity just wasn’t there for me and the error count just seemed to be mounting up.

Second half the intensity picked up and with tries from Boan Venter and Dave Cherry along with a penalty try awarded for Zebre illegally taking down the attacking maul the final score was Zebre Parma 19 Edinburgh Rugby 24.

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Grinding out a win is something we are learning this year and winning ugly is still winning. We still need to score more tries if we want to be getting these bonus point wins but you win first then worry about the bonus points and at the end of 80 minutes we won. It was the epitome of the old saying “a game of two halves” and honestly although it was nowhere near perfect, I would take that second half (minus the yellow cards) any time.

We have now moved up to fifth place and only two points behind Benetton who we face again later this season. I strongly believe fourth place is within our grasp along with a home playoff.

Players who stood out for me this round were Jamie Ritchie who was back doing Jamie Ritchie things, making a nuisance of himself to the Zebre team on any occasion possible, Bill Mata who was solid as always and powered through tackle after tackle and Emiliano Boffelli who was dependable under the high ball and cool under pressure.

Next round we have the Ospreys at the Hive, with the home support behind the team let’s hope the intensity steps up. Ospreys have had a mixed season this year, sitting in seventh place on the table their strength is in their set piece but with only one away win so far this season we have every chance for a strong outcome. They will be riding high after their defeat of Ulster this weekend so nothing can be taken for granted. We need that five point win to reach Sean’s target for these two matches. The Ospreys match is always one I look forward to each year as I have followed them for many years and have befriended a number of their fans. As soon as that whistle blows for the start of the match though I will be in full Blue and Orange mode and chanting as loud as I can.

Our ladies team faced the Wolfhounds for the second time this season in the first of two vital playoffs. Having lost their first encounter it was always going to be a challenge for them to win this match. Our ladies stepped out in their orange kit and had a great match on the whole.

Two tries from Emma Orr in the first half saw us all even 12-12 at half time. In the second half tries from Cieron Bell and Alex Stewart took us to a comfortable lead of 26-12 only for the Wolfhounds to take advantage of a little inattention in the last three minutes and score twice to make it a draw 26-26

As the Celtic Challenge sits the Wolfhounds face the Clovers at Kingspan Stadium on the 24th February and if they win they will be too far ahead so will be Champions, if the Clovers win it will go down to the last weekend where Edinburgh will face the Clovers at Parc Y Scarlets. Either way we know our squad will give 100% in their last match.

The immense pride our ladies have shown to pull on the Blue and Orange of Edinburgh Rugby has been truly humbling for me as a fan. Whether they are seasoned internationals or stepping up from grassroots level they have put their all in to representing their club.

My nephew attended the match this weekend, it was the first time he had ever attended a rugby match and at eight years old has really shown little interest in any sport, he left the match an Edinburgh fan through and through. When asked if he wanted to get his picture taken with some of the squad he was so excited and so after the match we went to the players tunnel and he get photo’s with almost every member of the squad. They spoke to him, asked him if he enjoyed it and thanked him for coming. This is what we need in our Edinburgh players. We get this in our men’s team and now with our women’s it makes me even more proud to be an Edinburgh fan.