Gregor Townsend watches on but Ben Vellacott is focusing only on Edinburgh

Gregor Townsend was watching from the stands and the Scotland coach can’t help but have been impressed by Ben Vellacott’s performance in Edinburgh’s 26-22 win over Scarlets.

Ben Vellacott, left, celebrates with Darcy Graham who scored two tries in Edinburgh's United Rugby Championship win over Scarlets. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Ben Vellacott, left, celebrates with Darcy Graham who scored two tries in Edinburgh's United Rugby Championship win over Scarlets. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

The scrum-half had a hand in three of the four tries and delivered a livewire performance which saw him named player of the match.

It was a fine debut from the former Scotland Under-20 cap who joined Edinburgh from Wasps. Now 26, Vellacott’s international career stalled due to his status as an England Qualified Player. His move north removed that impediment and he was called up by Scotland in the summer for the A international with England only for the game to be cancelled due to Covid.

Townsend will name his squad next month for the Autumn Nations Series, and Vellacott took encouragement from the national coach’s presence at the DAM Health Stadium on Saturday.

Ben Vellacott's pace will be a major asset on Edinburgh's new artificial pitch. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

“It’s nice to have him here but I’m not even thinking about that at the moment,” said the scrum-half. “I just want to put in some really good performances with Edinburgh and take this club to somewhere where it should be.

“It's a special club and has had some special players over the years, so it deserves to be one of the top clubs in the country and in Europe. So hopefully we can put down a good platform and build that way.”

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A bonus-point win in their first United Rugby Championship outing under Mike Blair was a highly encouraging start for the new coach who had high praise for Vellacott. An early highlight came when the No 9 took a quick tap penalty on his own line and sped up to halfway.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, centre in grey top, was an interested spectator as Edinburgh beat Scarlets 26-22. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

“It was a great moment but it was also high risk,” admitted the player. “If I’d got caught I’d have been in a lot of trouble but something needed to be done because we were on the back foot for most of that first 20 minutes and I think that was probably the turning point in the game.”

Vellacott’s speed on Edinburgh’s new artificial pitch looks like being a huge asset but it’s not just his pace that had his coach purring.

“What I like about Ben is his attitude - he’ll see something and he’ll do it,” said Blair. “You’ll get some people who might see whether space is on and then go ‘maybe I shouldn’t because it doesn’t fit with what we’re doing’. I’ve said to all my players, play what’s in front of you and back yourselves.

“Like that one in the first half when Ben went from inside our own 22 - I’m sure you’ve got 70-80 per cent of people in the stadium going ‘What are you doing?’ But he’s seen the space. It was a good decision and he executed it. He was excellent.”

Although Scarlets dominated the first quarter they only had Steff Evans’ try to show for it. Edinburgh came back strongly in the final 20 minutes of the first half, scoring three fine tries through Blair Kinghorn, Mark Bennett and Darcy Graham.

Kieran Hardy’s converted score made it a four-point game early in the second half but then Graham, fed by Vellacott, buzzed through for his second try.

Johnny McNicholl’s try kept Scarlets in contention but Edinburgh showed defensive resolve to see the game out.

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