A week ago Edinburgh succumbed meekly to Leinster in Dublin with really only a Charlie Shiel try as a highlight worth remembering. The less said about that the better, but one thing is worth mentioning. Edinburgh had more possession and territory against Leinster than they did against Scarlets. The big difference was a tackle success rate of 91% v Scarlets compared to 79% against Leinster.
They scored seven tries against Scarlets so let’s look at this game a little differently than normal.
Try 1. An attacking move inside Scarlets 22 was disrupted by the onrushing defence but a nice pick up off the floor by Blair Kinghorn reactivated it. He passed to Mark Bennett who beat the first defender before offloading to Ally Miller. He got close before offloading to Henry Pyrgos and he found Duhan Van Der Merwe with a floated pass for the run in. The try was un-converted.
Try 2. From the Scarlets kick off that followed the powerful Nick Haining brought the ball back to the halfway having burst through 3 tackles before passing to Willemse. The ball moved right before finding its way back across the field. Matt Scott exchanged passes with Kinghorn and then passed to Bennett who gave Van Der Merwe another run in. Simon Hickey kicked the conversion to give Edinburgh a 12-0 lead after only 10 minutes.
Try 3. A neat chip over the top by Pyrgos had to be hurriedly kicked to touch by Scarlets and gave Edinburgh a lineout on the 5 metre line. The maul followed and with a penalty advantage in hand hooker Mike Willemse drove off the back of the maul to score. From a Scarlets point of view it was much too easy. Hickey slotted the conversion. 19-0.
Try 4. Scarlets were denied a try for a forward pass with only 7 minutes left of the half. Their disappointment from that was exacerbated in the moments that followed. Magnus Bradbury, now on for the injured Haining, broke from the scrum and drove through the first defender. Pyrgos recycled and found Miller for another good run. Passes from Van Der Merwe, Scott, Pyrgos and Hickey got Edinburgh up to the 5 metre mark before another ruck was formed. The ball was recycled quickly and Bennett dummied and then stepped two defenders to score under the posts. Hickey kicked the conversion.
Yellow Card. In the dying seconds of the half Fraser McKenzie saw yellow for charging in to a ruck. It was debatable, to be kind to referee Frank Murphy, but perhaps not surprising in the current climate.
Half-time: Edinburgh 26-0 Scarlets
Penalty. The sin bin period ended with no additional scoring and just after McKenzie was restored Edinburgh were awarded a penalty, centre field, after Scarlets had infringed at a ruck. With the bonus point already secured they took the points to make the score 29-0.
Try 5. Mike Willemse got his second try of the night in similar fashion to his first and it came only a few minutes after Scarlets had scored against the base of the posts through hooker Marc Jones. An Edinburgh lineout followed by a driving maul was shifting forwards with Willemse at the base before he peeled off. This time the tackling was a little better but he was still able to cross the line with an outstretched arm. Van Der Walt, on for Hickey, missed the conversion. 34-7.
Try 6. Edinburgh kept the pressure on and from a scrum close to Scarlets line they forced the visitors into touch. A good lineout take and some nice interplay in the midfield resulted in a looping pass from Van Der Walt that released Van Der Merwe for his hat trick. Van Der Walt added the extras.
Try 7. Just as the clock hit the 79th minute Edinburgh won a ruck on the left hand touchline and the ball was moved quickly. Bennett saw acres of space and hit the accelerator, splitting the Scarlets defence before throwing a well-timed pass to Eroni Sau who had an easy run in for his debut try in Edinburgh colours. The conversion went wide.
Full time: Edinburgh 46-7 Scarlets
A good job well done. Some will say that Scarlets weren’t very good and although they were unbeaten going into this game only their opening day fixture against Connacht, who now lead Conference B, was against opposition who seem to be on the up (sorry Glasgow), so there is some truth in that. Edinburgh, however, were very good defensively and made the absolute most of the opportunities they created.
Edinburgh’s back three with Darcy Graham still to come in look very dangerous already at this point of the season.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; E Sau, M Bennett, M Scott, D van der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos (captain); P Schoeman, M Willemse, P Ceccarelli, F McKenzie, M Douglas, A Miller, L Crosbie, N Haining. Subs: C Fenton, J Bhatti, M McCallum, S Thomson, M Bradbury, C Shiel, J van der Walt, G Taylor.
Scarlets: J McNicholl; R Conbeer, S Hughes (captain), I Nicholas, T James, D Jones, K Hardy; R Evans, T Davies, S Lee, S Cummins, J Kruger, T Phillips, J Macleod, U Cassiem. Subs: M Jones, P Price, W Kruger, J Helps, D Davis, J Evans, A O’Brien, K Fonotia.
Scottish Rugby Blog Man of the match – The official award went to Duhan Van Der Merwe and with 3 tries and his overall performance I’m not going to argue. I think though that special mention should go to Ally Miller who had his best game in an Edinburgh shirt. Playing like a man who knows that his performance has to be good in the light of the soon to be returning messrs Mata, Ritchie, Barclay and Watson, his work rate was exceptional. It wasn’t showy but he was destructive in attack and solid in defence.