Bonus-point win boosts Edinburgh’s top six bid

EDINBURGH took maximum points with two tries in each half to raise hopes that they might yet force themselves into the top six of the Guinness Pro12 as they closed the gap on Connacht, who lost narrowly at the weekend, to only four points.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, right, celebrates a try. Picture: Marco Sartori
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, right, celebrates a try. Picture: Marco Sartori

But Scarlets also staked a claim for the coveted place with an unexpected victory over Leinster to stay one point ahead of Edinburgh who will travel to west Wales for their next match later this month.

Edinburgh, after two successive defeats, made eight changes from the team beaten by Cardiff Blues and threw a clutch of returning internationals into the action, all of them hoping to catch Vern Cotter’s eye and earn a recall to the Six Nations squad.

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Sam Hidalgo-Clyne at scrum half, openside flanker Hamish Watson, No 8 David Denton and outside centre Matt Scott can all be satisfied with their performances, adding substance to constructive interplay and ball-carrying with tries that put Edinburgh into an early comfort zone which Treviso were never able to threaten.

Scott was probably the pick of the bunch for his all-round play and tryscoring, but Watson ran him close. Lock Ben Toolis was another who enjoyed a good game and Dougie Fife showed his class when he went from one end of the pitch to the other as Treviso were run ragged late in the game.

The first try came after 17 minutes when Jack Cuthbert and Fife, combined down the right wing and Simone Ragusi came across from his opposite wing to rescue the situation by sliding into touch with the ball. Ben Toolis rose gracefully to take the catch for the maul to form around him and rumble over the line with captain Hamish Watson getting the touch down.

Two minutes later, there seemed to be no danger but stand-off James Ambrosini, who had just returned to the pitch after a five minutes absence with a head knock, was too casual with an attempted clearance kick and it was charged down by Toolis to break kindly for Scott to gather and run in unchallenged. Hidalgo-Clyne kicked both conversions.

Treviso kept possession and built up some momentum but Edinburgh’s defence was solid and well-organised and the Italians made little impression on it. They did win a penalty when No 8 Mat Luamanu won a turnover and full back Jayden Hayward knocked it over to get Treviso on the scoreboard.

Within a minute Edinburgh had clawed back the three points after Treviso went offside at a ruck and Hidalgo-Clyne landed the penalty from wide out on the left. The clock had run into the red when Edinburgh loosehead prop Rory Sutherland was judged to have brought down a scrum but Hayward’s penalty attempt was high and wide and the score at half-time remained 3-17 Edinburgh began the more lively after the restart but Treviso quickly matched them and forced their way into the visitors’ 22 only to be foiled by a solid defence that kept slowing down the ball. Referee Nigel Owens, controlling his 120th professional club match, warned both teams that cards would follow if the penalties didn’t stop.

Treviso kept up the pressure and stayed on the edge of the red zone but ruined a promising move when lock Marco Fuser fumbled a pass that put him in the clear. Edinburgh won the scrum and cleared.

The game opened up with both teams probing but not breaking the gain line as the ball went from one side of the pitch to the other without making much progress. Edinburgh were the more patient, shuffling up sidelines to gain territory in the knowledge that their lineout would ensure that they retained possession.

But Treviso were equally as confident of their set pieces and kept coming back at Edinburgh. The play was mostly squeezed into the space between the 22s with neither team threatening the try line until Watson crashed through a couple of tackles and, after good work by Scott, his centre partner Andries Strauss went up the blindside for a try in the corner that put Edinburgh on easy street and the bonus point in sight going into the final quarter.

Treviso kept hammering away at Edinburgh’s unyielding defence but seldom, if ever, got over the gainline until Ragusi ripped the ball out of Tim Visser’s grasp 25 metres out, spun on his heel, and ran in for a try with nobody near him.

Edinburgh replied by upping the pace and passing the ball into the hands of Scott as he came in at an angle, stepping round the full back, to score his second, and the team’s bonus point, try to round off an impressive overall performance.. With a couple of minutes to go Fife went on an 80-metre mazy run as the Italians scrambled back just in time to prevent a fifth try.

Scorers: Treviso – Tries: Ragusi. Cons: Pens: Hayward.

Edinburgh – Tries: Watson, Scott 2, Strauss. Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne 3. Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne.

Treviso: J Hayward, S Ragusi, A Pratichetti, S Christie, L Nitoglia, J Ambrosini, A Lucchese, M Zannuso, D Giasson, S Manu, A Pavanello, M Fuser, M Barbini, D Budd, M Luamanu, Replacements: A Anae, R Acosta, R Harden, M Swanepoel, N Cattina, P Derbyshire, J Carlisle, H Seniloli.

Edinburgh: J Cuthbert, D Fife, M Scott, A Strauss, T Visser, G Tonks, S Hidalgo-Clyne, R Sutherland, S McInally, WP Nel, A Bresler, B Toolis, M Coman, H Watson, D Denton. Replacements: N Cochrane, G Sheills, J Andress, O Atkins, R Grant, N Fowles, N McLennan, S Beard.

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