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Edinburgh on a the cusp of PRO14 play-off place after impressive rout of Scarlets

Duhan van der Merwe charges through tackles for his first try at Murrayfield.
Duhan van der Merwe charges through tackles for his first try at Murrayfield.

Edinburgh took a massive step towards the Guinness PRO14 play-offs with an eight-try, 50-point feast of counter-attacking rugby against the Scarlets at a sun-drenched BT Murrayfield.

The capital side stormed out with four tries in 23 minutes – the quickest try bonus point in the league this season – and the only blip was a 15 minute spell when the Scarlets scored twice just before half-time.

However in the second half Edinburgh played a canny game soaking up Scarlets’ possession and hitting ruthlessly on the break, scoring four more tries after the break.

Scarlets rested all of their main men with their European semi-final in Dublin next week, but Edinburgh’s dynamic performance, certainly their most productive of the season, would have overwhelmed many stronger teams.

There were a number of candidates for many of the match, with Blair Kinghorn a candidate until he limped off with a worrying knee injury before half-time, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne who scored one try and set up the key one just after half-time, and Duhan van der Merwe with two tries.

But the official award went to Magnus Bradbury who was outstanding in defence and lineout, while bagging a try himself.

Ulster can still mathematically pip Edinburgh for a play-off place but need to win both their remaining matches against Glasgow and Munster with bonus points and see Edinburgh get nothing from the third 1872 Cup leg against the Warriors at Murrayfield in two weeks’ time.

“It puts the pressure on Ulster, who have to win twice with bonuses now,” said Cockerill. “We have Glasgow here in two weeks which is always interesting, as I’m finding out.

“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, it was a weakened Scarlets team, but we put them to the sword as we needed to do.”

Edinburgh were caught in the blocks in their two successive defeats prior to this game but there was no question of that in the rare April sunshine as they raced to the bonus point after just over 23 minutes.

Their plan to spin the ball wide and direct paid off with two tries in the first nine minutes, Kinghorn slicing in for a score after a pass from James Johnstone that looked suspiciously forward but was cleared by the ref.

Straight from the kick-off, Bradbury and Ritchie made inroads and the ball went wide for van der Merwe to swat off ineffective tackles on a spring down to the touchline from halfway for the second.

Then it was the Edinburgh defence that made the difference, soaking up phase after phase before Bradbury won the ball, fed van der Walt for the counterattack and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was at his shoulder to race 50 metres for the third try.

Within four minutes there was another, Chris Dean involved twice for Magnus Bradbury to stroll in at the corner.

Hidalgo-Clyne converted three and it looked like a cricket score until Scarlets rallied,  veteran wing Tom Varndell and stand-off Dan Jones scoring tries after silly penalties gave the Welshmen field position to attack.

Edinburgh re-asserted their dominance but didn’t add to their score and lost Kinghorn to a knee injury just before the break.

The home side didn’t look so convincing early in the second half but a moment of solo brilliance from Hidalgo-Clyne settled their nerves.

The scrum-half dummied his way out from his own 22 and sprinted away, his sweetly judged kick ahead landing perfectly for van der Merwe to gather and canter away for the fifth try.

Edinburgh then soaked up Scarlets attacks and sprung a counterattack superbly, replacement Mark Bennett slicing through, off-loading to Cornell du Preez and another sub Luke Crosbie was on hand to rumble in from easy range.

Bennett was then on hand when Duncan Weir pinched a loose pass in his own half and raced away, using his centre who raced up in support.

And finally a third sub, scrum-half Nathan Fowles scored direct from a clever lineout move for the eighth try and beyond 50 points.

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Fife, J Johnstone, C Dean, D Van der Merwe, J van der Walt, S Hidalogo-Clyne; J Lay, S McInally (capt), S Berghan; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; M Bradbury, J Ritchie, C du Preez.

Replacements: N Cochrane for McInally 62, A Dell for Lay 50, M McCallum for Berghan 50, L Carmichael for Gilchrist 59, L Crosbie for Ritchie 38, N Fowles for Hidalgo-Clyne 60, D Weir for van der Walt 62, M Bennett for Kinghorn 39.

Scarlets: R Jones; T Varndell, I Nicholas, S Hughes (capt), R Conbeer; D Jones, A Davies; D Evans, R Elias, W Kruger; S Cummins, D Bulbring; L Rawlins, J Macleod, W Boyde.

Replacements: T Davies for Rawlins 67, P Price for D Evans 50, S Gardiner for Kruger 58, J Helps for Cummins 17, S Evans for Macleod 60, J Evans for Davies 60, C Baldwin for Conbeer 41, T Rogers for R Jones 58.

Ref: S Berry (SARU)

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