Remind me, please, why the Southern Kings were invited into this tournament in the first place? Oh, yes, a fistful of dollars, and you have to wonder whether it was worth it after watching this lop-sided ‘contest’.
Edinburgh’s reserves scored their first try after three minutes and they scored their last one on 63 minutes. In between times the home side waltzed over the Kings’ tryline almost at will, grabbing the bonus-point score on the stroke of half-time and ending up with six tries to their credit.
And that was after putting their feet up after ten minutes of action, by which time the home team had scored three tries and there was only one winner.
If this was the best the Kings could muster it is maybe time to send out the commoners. It is difficult to envisage a team of one-legged Morris dancers doing much worse.
Such was the close nature of the Pro14’s Conference B that this bonus-point win for Edinburgh has lifted the club from fifth to second, equal on points with Treviso but with a superior points difference.
It marks the club’s fifth win on the bounce in all competitions and they will go into Europe in good fettle.
After three tries in the opening ten minutes Edinburgh understandably took their foot off the gas a little and allowed the Kings some territorial dominance. The visitors drove their lineouts, but not very far, and for the most part played one-out rugby, which was never going to stress a defence as mean-minded as this Edinburgh one.
At one point in the first half Edinburgh, never the most adventurous side in the rugby world, ran the ball from well behind their own tryline secure in the knowledge that the Kings would fall off a couple of tackles and allow them easy yards upfield, which is exactly what happened.
If you can’t do anything else at least execute your set piece so you can win some possession, is a sine qua non of any professional rugby team. The Kings scrum had just one gear, reverse, and the lineout lost not one but two successive attacking throws in the first half. I haven’t seen it yet but don’t discount some of these fellas appearing as extras in the new Stan and Ollie biopic.
Several of Richard Cockerill’s second string showed up well but any garlands handed out need to come with a proviso on the paucity of the opposition. Darcy Graham scored two tries inside four minutes and spent the rest of the match threatening to grab his hat-trick without quite pulling it off.
The best of Edinburgh’s scores fell to Dougie Fife. Simon Hickey’s inside ball opened the right flank up for left winger Duhan van der Merwe and his inside pass sent the full-back over the line for the opening score.
Fife claimed the man of the match award, although the decision raised a few puzzled looks in the press box.
Ross Ford may be needed by Gregor Townsend and the veteran hooker did enough to keep his name in the Scotland frame despite one horrible overthrow at an attacking lineout.
Fly-half Hickey played well without ever looking like he might usurp Jaco van der Walt in the No.10 shirt.
Callum Hunter-Hill showed up well, his break up the middle of the park preceded Graham’s second touchdown, while flankers Luke Crosbie and Jamie Ritchie both kept themselves busy. Rory Sutherland muscled his way over the line immediately before the break for Edinburgh’s fourth, bonus-point try, while his fellow prop Simon Berghan scored immediately after the half-time tea but only having spilled the ball twice, just minutes beforehand and after his score, with the line at his mercy on both occasions.
With the game secured and Champions Cup matches to worry about next weekend Edinburgh went to the bench, with Ally Miller replacing Viliame Mata and scrum-half Charlie Shiel getting some rare game time, following in the steps of father Graham and grandfather Dougie Morgan.
The substitutes made the required impact on 63 minutes when three of them colluded in Edinburgh’s sixth try. Miller passed to Shiel who looked for a moment like he might score but a late offload from the little scrummy picked out reserve hooker Cameron Fenton, a late call up after David Cherry pulled out, for an easy score as the match moved into the final quarter.
Ven der Merwe was a little lucky that his knock on, with red jerseys waiting on the outside, resulted in no more than a scrum when another referee might have reached for a card.
He may not have wanted to use any starters that he has in mind for next weekend but Jaco van der Walt replaced Graham and Pierre Schoeman took Sutherland’s spot in the front row late in the game.
It galvanised Edinburgh who dominated the final quarter without adding to the score line.
Ironically, the match ended only when Kings’ prop Luvuyo Pupuma dropped the ball over the Edinburgh line. It was the visitors’ best chance all evening.