After Glasgow Warriors’ dismal defeat by Benetton in Treviso on Friday Scottish rugby needed a boost and Mike Blair’s side provided it on the opening weekend of the United Rugby Championship season.
Darcy Graham turned the game Edinburgh’s way with two tries early in the second half and the winger was deservedly named man of the match.
The home side were helped by a 30-minute cameo from Blair Kinghorn who stepped off the bench, scored one try and created two more - for Damien Hoyland and Chris Dean - to help Edinburgh pull away.
Their other scores came from Ben Vellacott and Glen Young, with Mark Bennett adding nine points with the boot.
To mark the Queen’s passing a lone piper played Flowers of the Forest which was followed by a moment’s silence.
It made for a slightly subdued opening and Dragons enjoyed the best of the first 25 minutes. But they only had two JJ Hanrahan penalties to show for it and with quarter of an hour remaining of the first half they found themselves trailing to Vellacott’s converted try. The little scrum-half sparked them into life with a quick tap penalty and a sniping run, lifting the home crowd. Edinburgh set up camp on the tryline and pushed and probed until Vellacott was eventually able to squeeze his way over and ground the ball. Referee Andrea Piardi awarded the try after checking with the TMO.
The second try came seven minutes later and this time Charlie Savala was the creator. The stand-off’s burst down the left wing took Edinburgh to within a couple of yards of the tryline and Young’s pick and go secured the score after good work by Hoyland.
Unlike the first try, Bennett was off target with the conversion attempt but the centre knocked over a penalty in front of the post on the stroke of half-time to increase Edinburgh’s lead to 15-6 at the break. A minute earlier, the Dragons had been reduced to 14 men when prop Lloyd Fairbrother was sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle. It was a pivotal moment.
The momentum was now with Blair’s side and Graham scored Edinburgh’s third try two minutes into the second half. Dean had a big hand in it, joining the back of a lineout drive then peeling off to feed the winger who scampered in for the score.
Graham then bagged his second with a piece of improvised brilliance. The chance appeared to have gone for Edinburgh when the ball went to ground but Graham picked it up and danced his way to the line, stepping off both feet and earning a rousing ovation as well as a bonus point.
Bennett converted and Edinburgh added a fifth try four minutes later. Kinghorn had replaced Savala and quickly made his mark with a lovely, looping pass to the unmarked Hoyland who scored in the corner.
The replacement stand-off provided an extra spark for Edinburgh and bagged the sixth try himself, hacking on with his left foot before finishing the job. Kinghorn then created the seventh with a galloping run from his own 22 and a little bit of mischief. He pointed left to the supporting Vellacott then switched it right to Dean who ran in the try.
A late yellow card for Nick Haining failed to take any of the gloss off for Edinburgh.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Vellacott, Young, Graham 2, Hoyland, Kinghorn, Dean. Cons: Bennett 3. Pens: Bennett.
Dragons: Pens: Hanrahan 2.
Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Darcy Graham (James Lang 54), Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Damien Hoyland; Charlie Savala (Blair Kinghorn 50), Ben Vellacott; Boan Venter (Pierre Schoeman 40), Dave Cherry (Stuart McInally 54), Angus Williams (WP Nel 40), Marshall Sykes, Glen Young (Sam Skinner 46), Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie (Nick Haining 60), Viliame Mata (Henry Pyrgos 70).
Dragons: Angus O’Brien ((Jordan Williams 64); Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Jack Dixon, Jared Rosser (Jordan Williams 36-40); JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams (Lewis Jones 62); Aki Seiuli (Josh Reynolds 70), Bradley Roberts (Elliot Dee 54), Lloyd Fairbrother, Ben Carter (Joe Davies 62), Will Rowlands (Joe Davies 36-40), Sean Lonsdale, Ben Fry (Chris Coleman 46; Taine Basham 55), Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Will Reed.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)