Edinburgh boss Mike Blair has no quibble over Henry Pyrgos' late kick decision against Saracens

There were no complaints from Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair about replacement scrum-half Henry Pyrgos opting to kick the ball dead as soon as the clock had ticked past the 80-minute mark of the clash against Saracens – even though his team needed to score again in order to secure a home draw in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.

Edinburgh Rugby head coach Mike Blair ahead of the Heineken Champions Cup match at DAM Health Stadium against Saracens.
Edinburgh Rugby head coach Mike Blair ahead of the Heineken Champions Cup match at DAM Health Stadium against Saracens.

“We wanted them to kick it off,” he said. “We made that call. You don’t always get these things right, but our view was that we had Sam Skinner in the sin-bin, we were playing into a stiff breeze and we had no momentum in our attack.

“We felt Saracens had the momentum in the last 10 minutes, so the decision was we had won three of our four Champions Cup games and beating Saracens, who had only lost one of their last 16 games, would give us a boost.

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“We would have loved a home game, but we felt the odds were stacked against us – so we cashed in. We were aware of the situation, and we are comfortable taking the win. Saracens were going really hard at us in the breakdown and it I just felt the odds were stacked against us.”

Blair’s real frustration was that Edinburgh failed to score during the period in the first half when Saracens were reduced to 13 men by the sin-binnings of England international hooker Jamie George and Italian international prop Marco Riccioni “There is still a huge amount to learn,” he acknowledged. “I thought we showed good intent there but didn’t have the accuracy in that period and it could have been crucial.”

Meanwhile, there was controversy around George initially returning to the field after his 10 minutes in the sin-bin, but then being removed from the match permanently at half-time by the independent match doctor with a suspected concussion. The hooker is now a doubt for England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland in just 12 days’ time.

"I don't know exactly what happened,” said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. “It appears that Jamie passed his HIA and someone has had a further look at it and thought it better that he were withdrawn from the game. And, of course, that's the right decision.”