Let’s start with some facts.
Edinburgh have a 100% home record this season and haven’t lost at home since April 2018. Further to that they have won 18 of their last 20 games at home.
In Edinburgh’s last 5 games they have conceded an average of only 7 points per match.
Edinburgh are second in Conference B. This is the highest position they have ever been in this form of the competition.
Attendances are up: the average in 2016-2017 was 5,539, for 2017-2018 it was 6,760. For this season so far it’s a healthier 7,753. In the corresponding fixture last year at Myreside the attendance was 3300. On Saturday night despite it being post Christmas and a fairly miserable night it was still 4549.
Edinburgh are the only team to have denied Southern Kings a score of any kind in a match since they joined the Pro14 and the last time this happened to them in any competition was in Super Rugby in May 2016.
To the match.
Edinburgh’s first try came in only the third minute and featured that rarest of things: a Duhan Van Der Merwe pass. Edinburgh won a ruck on the Kings 10 metre line and moved the ball right through JP Socino standing at first receiver. He passed it to Simon Hickey who picked out Van Der Merwe who had come in off his wing for the inside ball. He beat four defenders before passing it inside again for Dougie Fife to score unopposed.
The next score was almost immediate. Edinburgh retained possession from the restart and the ball was moved quickly left. A quick ruck near the touchline and the ball found its way to Simon Berghan in the midfield. He burst through a couple of tackles before being held up but calmly kept the ball available and popped it to Callum Hunter-Hill who made 15 yards in open space before being tackled. Quick ball again from the ruck left Edinburgh with an overlap that allowed Darcy Graham to score in the corner. Hickey kicked a second difficult conversion.
Perhaps showing the rustiness of 4 weeks without a game, the Kings then kicked the restart straight into touch giving Edinburgh a scrum on halfway and they made their way quickly back into the Kings 22 through some good running by Luke Crosbie in particular. They won another quick ruck under the posts and the ball was moved left. Bill Mata took it forward before Hickey got his hands on the ball again to feed Graham who crashed over between two ineffective Kings tacklers. This time Hickey was unable to add the extras but the score was 19-0 after just 10 minutes.
Kings then had a period of possession in the Edinburgh half but despite winning a couple of kickable penalties they spurned the chance to get on the scoreboard by those means. Unfortunately for them the Edinburgh defence held firm.
Given the quick pace of the opening 15 minutes or so the game then drifted a little with both sides giving away a succession of penalties and most of the play taking place between the 22’s.
The clock was in the red at the end of the first half before Edinburgh added to their early scores. Hickey kicked to the corner from a scrum penalty and from the lineout that followed the forwards made the hard yards with Rory Sutherland eventually emerging from the bottom of the ruck with Edinburgh’s fourth try and the bonus point. A straightforward conversion from Hickey ended the half.
Half-time: Edinburgh 26-0 Southern Kings
Edinburgh’s fifth try of the night came in the 45th minute. A series of rucks on the Kings line and the ball was eventually spun out to the backs. Under pressure from the Kings defence Dougie Fife failed to collect a pass from Socino and the ball continued at pace along the ground to Darcy Graham who brilliantly picked it up on the run before taking it into contact. Fraser McKenzie took it forward another couple of yards and it was then recycled to Simon Berghan who crossed the whitewash to score his first try for the club. Hickey missed the easy conversion this time.
Immediately following that try Bill Mata – only playing due to an injury to Luke Hamilton – was replaced by Ally Miller. Soon after that Nathan Fowles gave way to Charlie Shiel to allow him to make his Edinburgh debut.
Edinburgh came close again through George Taylor and Simon Berghan but it wasn’t until the 63rd minute before they scored their sixth try of the night.
It was worth the wait however. From a ruck on Kings 10 metre line Charlie Shiel fed Hickey who passed it inside to Ally Miller who went straight through a gap in the defence. He passed it inside to Shiel who jinked right and drew the defender in before offloading it to Cammy Fenton to score a try made by the younger generation. Hickey kicked the conversion and although there were 17 minutes left on the clock, that was the final score.
With the clock in the red at the end of match the Kings got a lineout from a penalty deep in Edinburgh territory and had one last assault on the Edinburgh line. Perhaps indicative of the mind-set that currently has this Edinburgh side on the up, they denied the South Africans even a consolation score with some tooth and nail defending.
Overall a professional display from Edinburgh. Some of the senior squad got an important rest ahead of an important Heineken cup match next week. Some of the young guys got some game time and acquitted themselves well. Most importantly the five points were wrapped up early enough to allow Richard Cockerill to protect Bill Mata with an eye towards those European games.
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
SRBlog Man of the Match: This was a team display but a special mention needs to go to Juan Pablo Socino who finally demonstrated why he was brought to the club with his best game in an Edinburgh jersey to date. The award also could have gone to Duhan van Der Merwe who had a great game without actually getting a try of his own but I’m giving it to Darcy Graham who got a double and had a pivotal role in Edinburgh’s fifth try.