Edinburgh 52 - 14 Scarlets: Edinburgh remain in playoff hunt

Mark Bennet scores his 2nd try of the match. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin
Mark Bennet scores his 2nd try of the match. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin
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After a couple of weeks spent on their hands and knees, searching under the sofa, Edinburgh finally found their mojo; let’s just hope it’s not too late.

Following Ulster’s victory over the Ospreys on Friday night and yesterday’s win at Murrayfield the net result is that Edinburgh are nine points ahead of the Irish rivals who still have two matches to play , compared to Edinburgh’s one.

That elusive third place could come down to the last game of the season against Glasgow where just one point against would guarantee Cockerill’s squad a place in the playoffs.

“We have to take two bonus point wins,” the Edinburgh coach countered, “it depends how you look at it. We’ve still got work to do. It was a great win today but there are parts of our performance that can be better. We saw some great tries but we have to take into context who we were playing as well.

“We have Glasgow in a couple of weeks and we want to win that game because we want to beat Glasgow. That will put us into the playoffs.”

With the exception of the second quarter Edinburgh were rarely troubled by a Scarlets team that was missing almost anyone of any note; the big guns rested ahead of next Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Leinster.

The home side looked slick with the ball in hand and defended tenaciously. Edinburgh scored their first try after just six minutes, they had the bonus banked well before the half hour mark and ran out easy winners.

The only negative for Edinburgh was the fact that full-back Blair Kinghorn limped off just before the break with a knee injury. On the plus side Allan Dell made his first appearance of 2018 in Edinburgh colours.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is looking for a club next season and on yesterday’s performance he won’t have long to wait. The dry conditions suit his style and the scrum-half kicked four from five off the tee, a well taken solo try and an “assist” for Duhan van der Merwe’s second and who could almost have claimed a hat trick. James Johnstone looked good value at outside centre before moving to the wing and Stuart McInally was his usual industrious self up front.

Edinburgh were first out the blocks with two tries in the opening ten minutes. Kinghorn finished off the first after Johnstone made a half break even if the final pass may have floated forward. The second was made and finished by South African powerhouse van der Merwe who had only just returned his boots to his feet having lost both in open play.

The big winger got the ball around the halfway line and shrugged off the attentions of Tom Varndell and Dan Jones on the way to the line. Not long after, Hidalgo-Clyne raced in from even further out when Edinburgh made good use of turnover ball and converted his own try via the crossbar. The crucial bonus point was secured as Magnus Bradbury touched down from close range and there was no doubt which side Lady Luck’s money was on.

The Scarlets were facing a shellacking at 26-0 and upped their game accordingly, scoring two tries in five minutes, Varndell in the left corner, Jones in the right, to drag themselves back into this game at 26-14. It stayed that way until Hidalgo-Clyne carved out a second score for van der Merwe early in the second half.

The No 9 broke beautifully from deep and made good ground up the left flank before kicking ahead and the ball sat up nicely for the big South African who hardly broke stride to score.

Edinburgh had some defending to do but the next score went their way too, even if it came against the run of play. A huge hole opened up for Mark Bennett who passed inside to Cornel du Preez on the cut and the South African eight fed his back row buddy Luke Crosbie for the youngster to touch down under the sticks.

With the clock winding down Duncan Weir pounced on a loose ball and sped upfield before feeding Bennett for the team’s seventh try of the afternoon before Nathan Fowles grabbed the eighth after the 80.