Duhan van der Merwe’s try double helped keep Edinburgh on track for a Challenge Cup quarter-final place in a comfortable bonus-point try win over former European champions Wasps.
Two tries just after half-time by Blair Kinghorn and van der Merwe – his second of the night – put Edinburgh in complete control after a testing first half they dominated but didn’t quite make the most territory and possession.
Young centre George Taylor’s deserved try eight minutes from time secured the valuable fifth point on the night which keeps Edinburgh level on group points with Bordeaux-Begles, who routed Agen 73-3 in the other pool game last night.
Edinburgh enjoyed a rare control upfront over an English side, especially in the scrummage, and their backline looked dangerous whenever they spread the ball wide.
Head coach Richard Cockerill was less than satisfied that his team didn’t “put our elbow on their throats” when they went 24-6 ahead just after half-time, but was happy with the five-point win.
“This is still a tough group and we’ll see a reaction from Wasps next week no doubt,” he said. “I’m still slightly concerned that we let sides back into games when we’ve taken control, but it was a decent performance.”
Both sides were feeling each other out a little too tentatively in the cagey opening 15 minutes with plenty of slick play but none of the end product being conducted inside the 22s.
Edinburgh did show some forward progress with Taylor looking particularly impressive but they twice turned over possession in scoring position just as they seemed capable of breaching the Wasps rearguard.
On one of the English side’s rare forays forward they won a penalty at an attacking lineout when Edinburgh were a little too quick with the counter-maul, and former All Black Lima Sopoaga kicked them 3-0 ahead.
Edinburgh then dominated the next ten minutes and although they took their time to open up the Wasps defence, when the try came it was admirably direct.
The home side forced and scrummed a series of penalties close to the line after James Johnstone’s clever kick to the line forced Rob Miller to concede a scrum five, but they seemed to be struggling to force home their advantage.
Finally after a fourth scrum Edinburgh spun the ball right and Darcy Graham was stopped short, but they quickly worked it back to the left and Taylor’s superb flat miss-pass gave van der Merwe just enough room to go in at the corner, Hickey converting.
Wasps’ attempt at a quick reply floundered on a clumsy kick by the lively wing Zach Kilibrige, and instead a scrum penalty and then another as Wasps retreated in defence near their own 22 allowed Hickey to stretch Edinburgh’s lead to 10-3.
Just before half-time Edinburgh were threatening again but Kilibrige counterattacked off a loose pass and in the end the home side were forced to concede a penalty with Hamish Watson illegally foraging on the deck, and Sopoaga gave the visitors a lifeline for half time.
But if Cockerill was frustrated with losing those three points at the break, he was assuaged by Edinburgh’s two tries to break the game open in the first ten minutes of the second half.
The first was a gift, a dropped pass on halfway swiftly moved by Graham and Hickey out right to Blair Kinghorn, who motored untouched 50 metres down the touchline for the try, converted by Hickey.
Then the stand-off mopped up loose ball in midfield and switched it left, Kinghorn’s super pass releasing van der Merwe to race away, stepping the last defender on a 40 metre charge for his second try.
That left Edinburgh half an hour to get the bonus but Wasps roused themselves with a nice move between Jack Willis and Sione Vailanu, Willis finally forcing his way over the line.
But with eight minutes left George Taylor was twice involved in the fourth try, making big ground inside the 22 and then getting up and back into the line to take replacement Nick Groom’s strong pass to canter over for the key score.
A late try from Wasps’ Nizaam Carr converted by Jimmy Gopperth was scant consolation for the visitors, who suffered their second loss in three games.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Graham, J Johnstone, G Taylor, D van der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, S McInally (capt), S Berghan; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; J Ritchie, H Watson, N Haining.
Replacements: M Willemse for McInally 72, J Bhatti for Schoeman 68, P Ceccarelli for Berghan 65, S Thomson for Toolis 72, B Mata for Haining 55, N Groom for Pyrgos 61, J van der Walt, D Hoyland for Graham 68.
Wasps: R Miller; Z Kibirige, M Fekitoa, M Le Bourgeois, J Bassett; L Sopoaga, D Robson (capt); Z Zhvania, T Taylor, K Brookes; T Vuskasinovic, T Cradall; J Willis, N Carr, S Vailanu.
Replacements: T Cruse for Taylor 72, T West for Zhvania 66, J Toomaga-Allen for Brookes 60, A Johnson for Vailunu 60, W Porter for Robson 72, J Gopperth for Sopoaga 68.
Ref: G Clancy (IRFU)