Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 13: Edinburgh 38-0 Southern Kings

Edinburgh vs Southern Kings
© Scottish Rugby Blog

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.

Simon Berghan
Simon Berghan on the charge for Edinburgh Rugby vs Isuzu Southern Kings – pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

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.

Juan Pablo Socino
Juan Pablo Socino is snared by Martin du Toit – pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

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)

Attendance:  4,549

Darcy Graham
Darcy Graham – pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

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.

19 Responses

  1. It seem churlish to wonder why Embra only won 38-0 and to a certain extent Kings should take some credit for digging in – but Embra were 19-0 up after 12 mins.

    A good performance by many of the backup players, but I would have liked to have seen more activity down the back line – for me that is down to Hickey, he has a horrible distribution style – almost Parkesque – not really sure why he’s at Embra TBH. Especially when you consider we really need to start blooding some SQ 10s.

    Really impressed with Ritchie’s all round game now – beef up a wee bit and he’s going to be a mainstay in the Scotland team for years to come.

    Young Ross Ford probably did enough to nudge himself into the Scotland squad in view of the dearth of talent elsewhere.

    Good run of form going into Europe – a cheeky wee win in Toulon and they are through if my sums are right.

      1. Not quite. One win and no BPs will leave Edinburgh on 19pts which Montpellier could still surpass. Glasgow, Ulster and Leinster could all finish second in their groups with higher points totals. This is pretty unlikely though. On the other hand any win against Montpellier will send Edinburgh through regardless of other results so Edinburgh have two bites of the cherry to go through. Given their home record they should go through but what a chance it would be if they got a home QF!

        Pool 5 looked horrible at the start of the campaign but it’s fair to say Toulon and Montpellier have been pretty abject and Newcastle have overachieved whilst their domestic form has collapsed. Great opportunity for a Scottish semi-finalist.

    1. Agree about Ritchie, between him and Crosbie think Edinburgh are extremely well set at 6/7 and if your happy without an out and out fetcher that could be a hell of a partnership as well. Both have the height and frame to beef up and be really solid units as well without sacrificing pace.

      1. Would just add that Miller is also looking decent. I realise he’s a bit behind Ritchie and Crosbie, but he looks like he’s capable of stepping up to pro level

  2. Agree on Ritchie and without a fully fit Barclay for the operner against Italy, Ritchie would be my 1st choice at 6. He has all the talent to play international rugby and I can see him as a future Scotland captain.

    Toonie will pick Wilson though!

  3. Would like to see Scotland revert back to there fast rucking game of the Vern Cotter era until Some of our big ball carriers ‘Bradbury’ become available again, my team for the first 2/3 matches.

    1. Dell 2. Mcinally(C)3. Nel
    4. Skinner 5. Gilchrist
    6. Hardie 8. Thomson 7. Watson
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Russell
    11. Graham 12. Horne
    13. Jones 14. Maitland

    15. Hogg

    16. Ford
    17. Sutherland
    18. Berghan
    19. J.Gray
    20. Wilson
    21. Horne
    22. Scott/Johnson
    23. Seymour

  4. Cheetahs are a good addition, but I don’t see what the Kings bring to the Pro14 – besides a chance to rest some players and still get a bonus point. I’m not sure what the deal is with the SA Union, but they are by far the worst team two years in a row, I doubt they have much support at home and I’d be surprised if they are financially viable…

    If they don’t shape up PDQ I’d like to see an alternative, like maybe a Georgian team or a USA team or something. If you’re going to have crap “foreign” teams, they may as well be innovative and expansion-focused, rather than turning over the graveyard of SuperRugbyTM.

    1. Alanyst i believe the kings are being bought over and will be the first pro team in SA not to be owned by the union, in others words they should be getting access to a lot more cash as of next season.

      Hear what your saying but i suppose you could look at where Treviso were a few year ago when they joined and now they are on the up big time.

      1. Alanyst is correct they are not seeing big gates (They only drew c3K if Wales on line are to be believed for the opening games in Pro 14 ) so who will invest and how long will it take to gain a return on investment for a new owner.

    2. That seems a bit harsh on the Kings. Away from home against a side high on confidence and rising up the table, after a 4 week lay-off. I’m not making excuses but I doubt the Kings were looking for more than a losing bonus point.
      As for the rest of the season, they beat Glasgow FFS and have pushed many other sides close, with 4 losing bonus points, and can obviously score tries, with 4 try bonuses. This is their first real season in the Pro14 – last season they were rushed in for the sake of money and couldn’t get a squad together. As others have said, the Italians weren’t much more competitive at the beginning, and it could be said still aren’t (notwithstanding last weeks result!).
      Give them time. It won’t be long before they take more scalps.

      1. Fair points Merlot WRT Edinburgh game, and maybe the Glasgow game ( I didn’t see that one)

        The Kings record of success in any pro-league is dismal however (see below).

    3. Kings have been around in some form since 2013, playing in Super Rugby (off and on) then Pro 14…so they are not so new, but have never had consistency.

      Across both competitions, they have played 77 games and won 13.

      6 of these wins came in Super Rugby ’17, before they were cut.

      Hopefully their new backers can get some momentum going…but I wonder if this is not an impossible task.

      For reference Bennetton have won 60 of 188 games in Pro12/Pro14; Zebre 26 of 141 (+ 2 draws), and Cheetahs 48 of 131 (since 2010) .

      Pre-Cockers Edinburgh, meanwhile won 55 of 154 from 10/11 to 16/17

  5. A Georgian team would be fantastic, and a bit more cash for them might stop the talent drain into France. Interesting re the Kings and private ownership – that could be a game changer for them, but I can’t shake the feeling that the SA teams really just see Pro14 as a development league and that for the majority of supporters, it’s still all about Super Dooper Rugby.

  6. Heard an interview with a South African on Brian Moores podcast who explained the Cheetahs have an exceptional youth system but are a very poor SA region so can’t hang onto their talent. They did well in last year’s pro-14 but then lost circa-20 players including their captain and all their stars, sometimes to pro-14 rivals like Scarlets. Under those conditions they aren’t going to improve. Kings are even worse, without the talent conveyor belt of Free State. They have ended up trawling club rugby to assemble a squad. Unless their backers are seriously wealthy it isn’t going to make much difference. Ultimately SA rugby has chosen its weakest and poorest provinces to go into pro-14 and unless they get additional SARU backing as promised to retain capped Bok players they are going to remain poor and just add an arduous and pointless travel schedule to a league that struggled financially but was developing into. Great competition IMO

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion