Edinburgh found the appalling weather conditions arguably more difficult than the winless Southern Kings in the Guinness PRO14 at Myreside but eventually overcame both to get the bonus point win they wanted.
The capital side scored five tries against the South Africans despite a muddy surface making underfoot conditions treacherous, and the arrival of driving rain and sleet in the second half.
Mark Bennett, making his first appearance for Edinburgh having been out injured for 10 months, was not among the tries but was given man of the match for his darting running. However it was once again Blair Kinghorn who really caught the eye for Edinburgh with his searing pace from full-back despite the difficulties caused by the weather.
Kinghorn scored one try, Grant Gilchrist having got things moving after a slow start by the home side. Ruhan van der Merwe, Cameron Fenton and Dougie Fife all had scores in the second half as Edinburgh took complete command playing into the wind.
It wasn’t nearly as conclusive a win as Edinburgh had enjoyed when the sides met in Port Elizabeth in December, but that was played in perfect 20 degree weather. Last night’s five scores for the essential bonus point to cut the gap to Ulster in the Conference B table to three points was a perfectly acceptable night’s work for Richard Cockerill’s team.
Edinburgh’s scrum went very well with new man Jordan Lay starting for the first time, while Hamish Watson was probably the game’s outstanding player for another exhibition of committed ball carrying.
Rain all day in the capital didn’t augur well for Edinburgh’s quest for a bonus point, although they took the advantage of the wind on a wet surface already cutting up from the warm ups.
The home side didn’t help themselves by giving up six penalties without reply in the first 15 minutes, although they successfully defended two lineouts and a scrum in their own 22 before Kings’ stand-off Kurt Coleman missed with a reasonable penalty shot at the posts.
Edinburgh finally gained a foothold with the ball with debutant Bennett showing some sparks, Jaco van der Walt successful from 35 metres to get his team on the board after 21 minutes.
That wasn’t quite what the home crowd had been hoping for but it was an error that led to Edinburgh’s opening try after 28 minutes.
Stuart McInally overthrew an attacking lineout in the Kings’ 22 but as scrum half Rudi van Rooyen tried to kick clear, Gilchrist charged down, deftly dribbled the loose ball forward and regathered to fight his way over for an unconverted score.
Within three minutes a long Kings’ clearance kick gave Kinghorn plenty scope to counterattack from his own half, and he cut a perfect line through, passed to Chris Dean and then stayed live to chase the replacement centre’s kick ahead and get the touch down.
Van der Walt converted but the conditions seemed to get the better of both sides until the half-time break.
Kings’ mistakes continued in the second half with a missed touch from a penalty and a fumble in the Edinburgh 22, and Bennett’s darting run as Edinburgh attacked forced a penalty for van der Walt to stretch the lead to 18-0.
Edinburgh moved into complete command just before the hour mark, strong running from van der Walt, McInally and Lay eventually sucking in the defence for van der Merwe to stroll in for the third try, converted by his fellow South African.
The weather deteriorated even more drastically after that with a teeming rain and sleet enveloping the ground and making coherent play hugely difficult, but playing into the teeth of it Edinburgh stayed in control, and their maul proved devastating in the mud.
From solid lineout ball in the 22, former Howe of Fife hooker Fenton, on for McInally, was at the back of a controlled 20-metre canter by the pack to score under the posts, securing the bonus point for Edinburgh.
Van der Walt converted and the Kings showed some resilience with five minutes left with a try in the corner by full-back Ntabeni Dukisa, which he converted himself.
But the final word went to Edinburgh with a grubber kick into the 22 from van der Walt eluding the covering replacement full-back Banda and Fife accepting the gift.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Fife, M Bennett, P Burleigh, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Fowles; J Lay, S McInally, M McCallum; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; M Bradbury, H Watson, C du Preez. Replacements: C Fenton for McInally 67, E Millar-Mills for Lay 75, M Shields for McCallum 65, F McKenzie for Gilchrist 63, V Mata for du Preez 60, S Kennedy for Fowles 61, C Dean for Burleigh 22, D Hoyland.
Southern Kings: N Dukisa; Y Penxe, B Klaasen, M du Toit, A Bock; K Coleman, R van Rooyen; S Ferreira (capt), S Coetzee, P Scholtz; J van Vuuren, D van Schalkwyk; B Eitel, M Burger, R Lerm. Replacements: T Balekile for Coetzee 40, M Dreyer for Scholtz 50, R de Klerk for Ferrerira 73, L Welemu for van Schalkywk 69, R Gouws for van Rooyen 63, H Klaasen for Coleman 60, M Banda for Dukisa 78.
Referee: L Linton (SRU)