SWAPPING between playing both scrum-half and winger is unusual and can never be the easiest of tasks but it is one Doncaster Knights’ Sam Edgerley continues to prove is possible.
Starting out wide in Saturday’s British & Irish Cup defeat to Munster A, his pace was arguably their most potent weapon, highlighted by a brilliant individual try in the second period as the hosts tried to rescue a game they ultimately threw away.
Edgerley arrived at Castle Park 18 months ago, having spent the best part of three years operating as a scrum-half for the England Sevens side while also featuring there for Esher and Rosslyn Park.
Admittedly, with Michael Heaney, voted the Championship’s best No 9 last season, in the Doncaster ranks, his chances of playing there with Knights have been limited and he has spent most of this campaign coming off the bench with brief cameos while replacing the Irishman.
Nevertheless, despite the vastly different roles, the 25-year-old showed Clive Griffiths just what he can do from the wing with some quality attacking play against Munster in only his second start of 2016-17.
“We’re pretty disappointed with that result; it’s tough to stomach being at home and getting outmuscled really by a young, enthusiastic Munster side,” Edgerley told The Yorkshire Post.
“But I am really happy to get on the pitch and get some game-time like that. I played a lot of my youth rugby at wing, full-back and then also at scrum-half.
“When I went to the Sevens (with England) I played a lot at scrum-half so coming back to 15s I have been able to play both positions.
“I have been speaking to Griff a lot about it. He likes me as a scrum-half but favours me in the back-three.
“I’m happy to play anywhere really just as long as I’m playing for the Knights.”
He is likely to get another 80 minutes under his belt when Doncaster head to Cork on Friday to quickly play Munster again, although the South Yorkshire side cannot now qualify for the knockout stages.
With London Welsh having been thrown out of the competition after going into liquidation, only one side progresses from Pool 2 and leaders Munster, who have beaten Rotherham Titans home and away, are uncatchable at the top.
Edgerley conceded the Irish province were the superior side at the weekend after his team struggled to gain any rewards despite dominating the opening half-hour.
“Fair play to them, they brought some serious line speed in defence,” he said, about a fixture that was originally scheduled for October but was postponed following the tragic death of Munster head coach Anthony Foley in Paris.
“We didn’t really come up with any answers in attack to that and, at the same time, when we had a few opportunities they were very good at the breakdown, stripped us in the tackles and we coughed up a lot of ball.
“At key times, we needed points but they were a better side than us today.
“We’ve a really quick turnaround so we need to get our heads straight back up, come into training Monday, learn from this, park it and go into Friday with a really positive attitude and make sure we get a win or a better performance at least.”
Doncaster were just 14-7 behind early in the second period only to concede not one but, in criminal fashion, two intercept tries in the space of just five minutes.
Given the authority of Munster’s defence, they were never likely to then let slip a 28-7 advantage.
Granted, Griffiths made eight changes to the starting line-up that saw off Richmond on New Year’s Eve but he will have wanted a better return than this.
In fairness, Munster did not enter their 22 until as late as the 29th minute but all Doncaster claimed from their dominance was a try from Jarrad Williams.
It was the No 8’s first since joining from Yorkshire Carnegie last summer and came following a well-crafted line-out move, Simon Humberstone converting.
But flanker Gavin Coombes and captain Robin Copeland scored either side of the break as the visitors began to finally exert some pressure of their own, Te Aihe Toma, the exciting fly-half on loan from Bay of Plenty, improving both.
Then Doncaster self-imploded as winger Calvin Nash intercepted Edgerley to score from 60m out and then Cian Bohane snaffled Humberstone’s pass on halfway to race in another, Toma again converting
Edgerley, showing that afforementioned guile, atoned with a super score of his own as he chipped and chased but it was too little, too late.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Bulumakau, Hayes, Clark, Edgerley; Humberstone (Cusack 64), Heaney (White 57); List (Hislop 54), Bergmanas (Nelson 54), Quigley (John 48), Taylor, Young, Ram, Hills (Owen 40), Williams.
Munster A: Johnston; Nash, Arnold (Bohane 40), Goggin, O’Shea (Fitzgerald 61); Toma, Poland; McCabe (O’Connor 52), O’Byrne (O’Brien 64), Scott (Burke 52), Wycherley, Mintern (Coffey 70), O’Callaghan, Coombes (Falloon 76), Copeland.
Referee: S Gaffikin (Ireland).