Edinburgh centre Matt Scott has hailed the team’s 46-7 win over Scarlets on Saturday night as a “statement victory”, and revealed that head coach Richard Cockerill needed some convincing before agreeing to adopt a more expansive style of play this season.
Scarlets had won all three of their previous Pro14 matches, but had no answer to the home team’s cutting edge at BT Murrayfield. Five of Edinburgh’s seven tries came from the backs, with Duhan van der Merwe scoring a hat-trick and Eroni Sau and Mark Bennett adding one apiece. Hooker Mike Willemse touched down twice, while the other points came from the boots of Simon Hickey and Jaco van der Walt.
“I was saying to the guys before the game, ‘Boys, this is a great chance for us to make a statement’,” Scott said after a result which takes his team up to third in Conference A. “They’ve come in three wins out of three, and I just felt there was a good buzz all week in training, and I think when you are playing a team that’s undefeated it does sharpen the mind naturally - there’s no complacency going into the game. I feel like we’ve taken a real step forward. That margin of victory is a real statement from us.”
The manner of victory was just as significant. In their first two seasons under Cockerill, Edinburgh were very much a pack-based team, but now, while remaining strong up front, they have more to offer in the back line too. “We’ve really been driving that ourselves,” Scott said of the different style being employed this season.
“It’s obviously not in Cockers’ natural DNA to play that game, so it’s up to us to take the lead and say ‘Look, if we’re going wide, we’re going to look after the ball, we’re going to make things happen for the team’. And I think we’ve really improved on that this year, and shown that we do have the firepower out there to do damage. I think we’re getting a balance pretty good at the moment.
“He is all for us having a go. I think he was apprehensive at the start of the year about whether we were going to lose that tough edge that made us hard to beat. So as I say, it’s up to us as a playing group to show him that we’re not going to lose that tough edge, and that if we spread it wide, the backs are going to do the dirty work in the wide channels and win the ball and not get turned over or make mistakes. I think we’re doing that quite well.
“I think we’ve got one of the best back lines in the competition. We’ve just got to keep the confidence high and keep building.”
Edinburgh’s next game is on Saturday away to Benetton, who have won only one of their four outings so far but have invariably proven to be awkward opponents in recent seasons, especially in Treviso.