Edinburgh Rugby debrief: Bigger crowd than Hibs, Freddie Owsley is worth the wait and Marseille in May sounds appealing

An emphatic 66-3 victory over Brive was a statement result for Mike Blair’s Edinburgh against the coach’s former club. Just six days after the one-point defeat by London Irish in Brentford, they got their European Challenge Cup campaign back on track in some style, chalking up a couple of milestones on the way.

Stuart McInally celebrates with Freddie Owsley during Edinburgh's 66-3 Challenge Cup win over CA Brive. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Edinburgh Rugby attracted a bigger attendance than Hibs

Edinburgh have now played half a dozen competitive fixtures at the DAM Health Stadium and remain unbeaten at their new home. The Stormers came closest to breaching the fortress when they left with a 20-20 draw in October but that was the only time the home side have failed to win a meaningful match at the ground this season.

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There was little sign of Brive doing any damage on Friday night. The French side, currently second bottom of the Top 14, have more pressing matters on the home front to worry about and you suspect the Challenge Cup is not top of their list of priorities. Nevertheless, this was a ruthless performance from Mike Blair’s side who ran in ten tries in the 66-3 Pool C triumph for their biggest win of the season.

Freddie Owsley scored two tries and was named player of the match on his Edinburgh debut. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

The other heartening piece of news was that the game was watched by a record crowd at the new ground.

Interestingly, the 6,165 inside the DAM Health Stadium was 316 more than attended Easter Road the previous night for Hibs’ Scottish Cup fourth round tie with Cove Rangers.

Freddie Owsley was worth waiting for

Freddie Owsley has had to be patient for his chance with Edinburgh. He joined the club from Bristol Bears in the summer but only made his debut in Friday night's dismantling of Brive. It was worth the wait. The winger scored two tries and showed flashes of the pace that saw him crowned national 400 metres champion at under-20 level.

Edinburgh had their biggest crowd so far at the DAM Health Stadium. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

The 25-year-old was a worthy winner of the player of the match award and deserves credit for his perseverance. Owsley spent years pursuing a sprint career before returning to rugby and is relishing his chance with Edinburgh.

Athletics was a lonely place at times for the Scottish-qualified winger who seems to be enjoying the camaraderie as part of Mike Blair’s squad.

Marseille in May sounds appealing

It’s a little premature to be booking flights to Marseille but Edinburgh have the potential to go deep in the Challenge Cup this season. The 66-3 win over Brive all but assures them of a place in the single-leg last 16 and if they can finish among the top eight ranked Challenge Cup sides from the three pools of five they will get a home tie. Finish among the top four and they’d also be guaranteed a home game in the quarter-finals, should they progress.

Given their form at the DAM Health Stadium, that’s a mighty big incentive for Edinburgh who have reached the final of this competition once before, back in the 2014-15 season when the lost out to Greig Laidlaw’s Gloucester at the Stoop.

This year’s final is in Marseille’s iconic Stade Vélodrome on Friday 27 May.

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