Distinctly un-African weather conditions (or to put it locally, manky) at Myreside saw Edinburgh welcome the Southern Kings.
In the opening stages of this soggy encounter, the hosts were a little too hospitable and early penalties allowed the visitors attacking set pieces. Perhaps they should have taken some of the points on offer, as they wouldn’t actually score any until the dying minutes.
It was a solid ten minutes before Edinburgh had any ball to speak of, and by the quarter of an hour mark they were on a warning for ill-discipline at the breakdown. On a night when it was very difficult to keep your feet, referee Lloyd Linton didn’t have much sympathy with the whistle.
Mark Bennett still hadn’t had any ball to speak of save for a Blair Kinghorn pass inside the 22 that he dropped. A few little half breaks later in the half showed flashes of what we’ve been missing.
Grant Gilchrist has had a fine season and he continued it with a chargedown and some nice footballing for the game’s first try just before the half hour had elapsed. The second try came only minutes later as Edinburgh attacked straight from the restart, Kinghorn feeding Chris Dean who kicked it through for the lanky fullback to pounce on.
Half-time: Edinburgh 15-0 Southern Kings
Edinburgh’s objective was now a bonus point and to prevent the Kings from somehow finding a way back into the game. A Jaco Van der Walt penalty opened the second half scoring as the tricky conditions continued to hamper efforts to make some entertainment out of it.
That settled things down, and Edinburgh put the foot down as much as they could. Hard carries from Bennett, McInally and Jordan Lay got Edinburgh well into the 22 before a well-weighted floating pass from Van der Walt allowed Duhan Van der Merwe to dot down unopposed over the line.
With an hour on the clock and the rain and hail hammering down, Edinburgh had control of the game as the skill and experience of players like McInally and the outstanding Hamish Watson came to the fore.
An early injury to Phil Burleigh meant that Bennett had to play the full 80 and although his fitness might have been pushed he’ll be all the better for it. Even as others were sent to warm up in the stands, replacement hooker Cameron Fenton secured the try bonus point with ten minutes to play at the back of a maul the Kings players looked only half interested in stopping.
The Kings finally got some points on the board with 6 minutes to play, Sean Kennedy failing to deal with a grubber kick and Ntabeni Dukisa touching it down. Dougie Fife had the last laugh for Edinburgh when something similar happened up at the other end and he pounced.
But by then almost everyone on the pitch had a hot shower on their mind, perhaps except Richard Cockerill who would have been satisfied with a job done and the gap closed on Ulster in the conference table.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (SRU)
SRBlog Man of the Match: The sponsors kindly gave it to Mark Bennett on his comeback, but Hamish Watson was the best player on the park by a good distance. Stuart McInally was once again excellent, while Blair Kinghorn and replacement Chris Dean were the pick of the backs.