Confidence-boosting forward momentum

Edinburgh lit up a gloomy Moscow lunchtime as they demolished their Russian opponents, but it was a win overshadowed by two problems for Richard Cockerill, the head coach.

Edinburgh prop Murray McCallum, on the replacements bench due to Alan Dells injury, was called on after the break and scored two tries in the space of six minutes. Photograph: David Gibson/Fotosport

The bigger one is the investigation that has seen flanker John Hardie, suspended less than a week after the club was forced to admit it has also suspended club captain Magnus Bradbury for an unrelated incident.

“I am not going to comment on John Hardie but what I do know is that I will run a strong culture and we will deal with those situations as they come along,” was Cockerill’s only reaction. “My job is to make this a strong robust environment and we will continue to do that.

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“I have dealt with situations at previous clubs around players getting themselves into situations and I will deal with it as I see fit. I make it very clear that I want an honest and robust environment and people who want to be part of that.”

His second issue could be a crisis at stand-off. Duncan Weir is out for another two or three weeks, so when Jason Tovey, the only other specialist in the squad was taken off on a stretcher with his leg in an inflatable splint, Cockerill must have feared the worst.

In the event, it may not be quite as bad as it first looked. Tovey was moving reasonably freely as the team left the ground to rush to the airport for their flight home, but he is far from certain for next week when they face an important Guinness Pro14 match in Treviso.

“We will have to see what the next week brings. We have not got anybody else – we might have to borrow one of the five Glasgow have got, we’ll see,” said Cockerill – and he was only half joking.

It did not matter a jot in this game. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Blair Kinghorn both had shots at the job. Kinghorn, who had also opened the scoring, showing his attacking potential with his second try while Hidalgo-Clyne, who had scored try number two, looked a better option for controlling the match.

For all that, it was the forwards who really put Krasny Yar to the sword. There was a second half penalty try for pulling down a maul, and five of the pack on the scoresheet with Murray McCallum, the prop called on to the replacements’ bench when Allan Dell suffered a late groin problem, getting two in six minutes shortly after coming on at half time.

The big success stories, though, were in the back row. Lewis Carmichael, normally a lock but shifted to flanker, put in a storming performance after collecting the third Edinburgh try, but was still outshone by Luke Crosbie, playing at openside, who never stopped working and making ground as a ball carrier.

It was enough to earn praise from captain Neil Cochrane: “Any tries in any game will increase their confidence,” he said. “It is about belief from the boys, that is the major thing.

“We have some great backs and some great forwards out there – look at Luke Crosbie and Lewis Carmichael especially. They carried really well all day. It is about believing in our own ability, then the boys can do it.

“It is great for the team, they are young guys and it puts pressure on the boys who started the previous games that they have come in and stepped up. They will have learned a lot from this experience and I hope can keep putting pressure on the boys who have been starting thus far this season.”

Fraser McKenzie and Stuart McInally, both from short range, completed the scoring. Krasny Yar kept their spirits up despite the flow of points against them and did mange to work wing Evgenii Kolomiitsev over midway though the second half and get the last word with Andrei Kolodakov, the hooker, going over in the final move of the game.

By then, all Edinburgh were worried about was getting to the showers and on the bus to make sure they caught their flight home. It had been a long trip, but with two home games next in the Challenge Cup, they are already in a strong position for another quarter final in the tournament.