Seven tries for Edinburgh secures home Quarter-final

Playing their first match at, Myreside, their proposed, permanent home venue, Edinburgh defeated visiting Romanian side Timosoara Saracens 49-3 to ensure playing at home for their quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

In front of a sell-out crowd of just over 5,000, Edinburgh didn’t have it all their own way, with the visitors being particularly strong in the scrum and breakdown. However, possession isn’t everything and it wasn’t until late in the second half – and when Edinburgh were down a man to yellow – that they made any kind of a threatening move on the Edinburgh line.

Play leading up to the first Edinburgh try was confined to the Timosoara half of the pitch and Edinburgh used the kick-to-touch option for two successive penalties to get to within a few metres of the line. The second of these set up the maul that front-row, Neil Cochrane, then used to drive over for the try. 10, Duncan Weir then added the conversion to make it 7-0 after 11 minutes.

Another 10+ minutes of Edinburgh domination with the ball was to play out before the second try was scored, this time through a running and passing move.

The Romanian side had successfully defended against the pack during this time, but were having a bit more of a struggle containing the backs. The try came down the right after a series of passing and running plays, wing, Tom Brown, providing the final pass out to his ‘winger’, Cornell Du Preeze, who run the ball in for the second try. Weir then scored the kick to make it 14-0 after 23 minutes.

The match got bogged down for a while following the score, but as the half hour approached, Saracens were developing an attack, albeit in their own half, but a pass out from stand off, Jody Rose, was picked off by full back Blair Kinghorn who galloped the ball in under the posts for try number 3. Once again, the extras were added by Weir for 21-0 with around 10 minutes of the half left.

The fourth, and bonus-point try for the home QF, came just before the break. Play was concentrated in the visitors five-metre zone but the home side couldn’t get the final break through until a piece of luck came their way. A loose pass left the ball bobbling around until a stray boot sent the ball over the try line with centre Mike Allen in hot pursuit. He then dived on the ball to rack up the fourth try. Weir converted and the sides went in at 28-0 to Edinburgh.

The second half was mostly a repeat of the first. Cochrane repeated his try scoring feat of the first half by going over from a rolling maul, replacement 10, Jason Tovey scored a fine try set up by the backs down the right wing, Tovey going over after receiving a well-judged off-load which saw him over the line and the third was scored by wing, Damien Hoyland – who’d had an unusually quiet game – to rack up the seven tries scored. Weir had converted Cochrane’s try, but Tovey took over where Weir had left off and knocked over the other two for the points.

However, before all this, Timosoara had scored their only points of the match. Just over a minute in to the half, they won a penalty just outside Edinburgh’s 22 allowing scrum half, Valentin Calafetaneanu, to score. He had another opportunity later in the half from near half way, but failed to make the distance with that attempt. But, it was the visitors pack who were to provide the biggest threat to the Edinburgh line as they took advantage of Edinburgh’s failed touch-finder after Calafetaneanu’s second penalty to get up to the line. A couple of rucks found them in close enough for a go at the line, but the ball was lost forward as the No. 8, Vasile Rus dived over.

They had to wait until the final few minutes of the match to have their next sustained assault on the Edinburgh line. In quick succession they won a ‘held-up’ scrum on the left, from which they almost scored on the other side of the pitch, but the ball was lost once again, and their final attempt at a score came seconds before the final whistle as the forwards piled over the line, but the defenders managed, again, to prevent the ball reaching the deck.

So, mostly, comfortable win for Edinburgh to top their group in the ERCC and march on to knock-out stages. It wasn’t the most entertaining match to watch with a fair few stoppages and, as such, may not have been the best advert for the first Myreside match of Edinburgh’s ‘new era’. The next match will be against Munster in the PRO12 and should be better placed to determine whether Myreside will be Edinburgh’s ‘Scotstoun’.

Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.