SAM Hidalgo-Clyne celebrated his call-up to the Scotland training squad, and in the process stated an emphatic case for full cap recognition when the RBS 6 Nations get under way in two weeks’ time, with masterful all-round performance and a 28-point haul in this impressive bonus point victory for Edinburgh last night.
Edinburgh - 38
Bordeaux-Begles - 20
Referee: I Davies (WRU)
The 22-year-old scrum-half scored two tries against Bordeaux-Begles and the only blemish on his goal-kicking record was his failure to slot the conversion of the first of those two scores from just inside the left touchline – serving as proof that not quite everything he touches at the moment turns to gold.
The result leaves Edinburgh top of Challenge Cup Pool Four with 22 points. They are guaranteed involvement in the quarter-finals, but need either Exeter Chiefs, Newport Gwent Dragons or both London Irish, and Cardiff Blues to lose this weekend if they are to get a home draw. It remains a long shot.
Edinburgh were already three points ahead when Hidalgo-Clyne grabbed try number one in the 27th minute. It was scored when the Edinburgh pack drove a line-out to just a few feet from the whitewash. With every defending forward sucked into stopping the maul, Hidalgo-Clyne was left with little choice but to nip up the blindside and over for the score. It was almost an indecently easy score for a player with his electrifying pace.
The scrum-half might even have grabbed an earlier touchdown when he burst from the base of a ruck and worked a scissor pass to send Dougie Fife on a 40-yard charge up field. Dave Denton showed that he is getting back to somewhere close to his athletic best by appearing on Fife’s shoulder to support the move, but the big No 8 will be disappointed that his pass to the man who started the move was woefully wayward. Hidalgo-Clyne dived to collect the ball like a cricketer in the slips, but it was too low and too far in front of him.
Edinburgh were dominating the scrum, winning three penalties in the first 33 minutes and marching the opposition backwards on a couple of other occasions. For the record, they did concede two scrum penalties during this period, but those decisions from Welsh referee Ian Davies seemed to be more out of sympathy for the beleaguered visiting pack than any obvious failing by the dominant home front-row – who were marching irresistibly forward on both occasions.
The extent of Edinburgh’s domination in this crucial area was perhaps best demonstrated by Bordeaux’s decision to put tight-head prop Francisco Gomez Kadula out of his misery with less than half an hour played, by replacing him with veteran French international prop Jean-Baptiste Poux. It didn’t do the visitors much good – they conceded a penalty at the very next scrum. Poux was then replaced by Patrick Toetu after 57 minutes.
Hidalgo-Clyne kicked his fourth penalty after just a minute of the second half, and Edinburgh extended their lead ten minutes later when Alasdair Dickinson and Matt Scott swapped roles – with the former bursting through midfield like a carefree centre, and when he was eventually felled just inches short of the line, the latter picked up and burrowed like gnarled prop to score from close range.
Having established an 18-point cushion, Edinburgh were then guilty of taking their foot off the accelerator, and they paid the price when Pierre Bernard’s beautifully weighted grubber allowed Basptiste Serin to touchdown unchallenged beneath the posts.
That was the wake-up call the home team needed, and two minutes later WP Nel was repeating Scott’s trick by bulldozing his way over the line from close range, meaning the hosts had 24 minutes to claim the one try they needed for what could prove to be a crucial bonus point.
As it happens, they didn’t need all that time. There were still 13 minutes left on the clock when that man Hidalgo-Clyne popped up again with another audacious moment of ingenuity, picking up scrappy ball and wrestling past at least two tacklers to get over the line. He even kicked the conversion from wide on the right for good measure.
Bernard grabbed a consolation try with four minutes to go when he sent another grubber through to the in-goal area and this time collected the ball himself.
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