Tries galore for Edinburgh Rugby as Duhan van der Merwe marks return in style against Benetton
After seeing his team end a three-game losing run, head coach Mike Blair was quietly satisfied with the evening’s work rather than going overboard. He had selected a very strong squad, he reasoned, and therefore expected little more than they had delivered in this URC match.
“We had a quality side out and the expectation on us is to do well,” he said. “We focus on the privilege of playing, the enjoyment of playing in front of our fans and showing them what we can do and not worrying that we have to win.
“I want us to enjoy being out here. Part of the enjoyment is going into the dressing room feeling we have been ruthless and not taken the foot of the throat. I was pleased with that.”
Apart from a late consolation try from Toa Halafihi, the visitors’ only points were the first of the game - a penalty by Tomas Albornoz. If it took Edinburgh some time to respond to that minor setback, it was partly because of the strength of the wind down on the playing surface - a factor that was not even evident in the stands.
“It is a decent 12-, 14-point wind and when we gave away the first three points in the first few minutes I thought we had given them an extra three points to start with,” Blair continued.
“We controlled territory in that first half as well as you can into the wind. Then when we got points after half-time it gave us some impetus and we were able to stay on top of Benetton after that.
“They made a few changes from last week, but they had quality players and an international front row so they still had a strong team and still needed putting away. But our energy and intent was better tonight.”
Edinburgh’s initial response came from Sam Skinner - his first try for the team - then they quickly followed that just before half-time with a touchdown by Luke Crosbie. Emiliano Boffelli converted the second try - just one of four kicks he had on target all night.
Edinburgh went for the jugular straight from the restart, and got their reward when Pierre Schoeman finished off from a couple of metres out. The bonus score came a few minutes later when Van der Merwe shrugged off one would-be tackler and sidestepped a second to touch down close to the posts.
The game was in the bag, but just to make sure, Graham added a fifth minutes later, running in unopposed on the right after an excellent break by Mark Bennett.
WP Nel forced his way over from less than a metre out for his team’s sixth, Boffelli got the seventh himself, and then Van der Merwe scored his second 10 minutes from time after getting up in support of an Adam McBurney break..
Toa Halafihi got a late consolation try for the visitors, but Edinburgh had the last word when Graham kicked ahead up the right, gathered and touched down.