Edinburgh Rugby vs Dragons Rugby, Fri, 17/04/2015 - 19:45

Edinburgh Rugby made a statement of intent with a comprehensive five-try victory over Dragons (45-16) in the European Challenge Cup semi-final at BT Murrayfield tonight, and booked their place in an historic final at  Twickenham Stoop on Friday 1 May (kick-off 7.45pm).

In London they will face the winners of tomorrow's corresponding semi, between Exeter and Gloucester, with TICKETS ON SALE NOW for the grand finale!

Match report

Edinburgh Rugby stormed into an historic first European final as they beat Newport Gwent Dragons 45-16 at BT Murrayfield.

An frenetic encounter in front of 8,231 spectators saw a total of six tries for the hosts, who dominated their Welsh opponents throughout a largely one-sided semi final.

Scrum-half Sam Hildalgo-Clyne starred, scoring 25 points in a remarkable display that included four penalties, five conversions and a try.

The Dragons opened the scoring early on with a Dorian Jones penalty. Hildalgo-Clyne levelled the scores before Stuart McInally got the first try after 25 minutes.

The Dragons kept in touch at the start of the second half with a try from Brok Harris. But further tries from Ben Toolis, Hidalgo-Clyne anfd Dougie Fife secured a famous victory.

Dominating the early possession and setting up camp in the Edinburgh half, it was the Dragons through fly-half Dorian Jones who opened the scoring with a penalty after four minutes.

Edinburgh, starved of the ball in the opening stages soon found possession and territory. With their concerted attack and increasing penalty count against the Welsh opponents, the hosts soon levelled the scores after a 10th minute penalty from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, while the Dragons lost Taulupe Faletau to a yellow card.

Both teams attempted to play an expansive game and, after a loose Dragons pass, fly-half Phil Burleigh broke clear down the touchline.

Edinburgh sought to use the man advantage while they could and controlled possession with ease. It told in the 15th minute as Stuart McInally crossed for a spectacular opening try.  The flanker used his considerable strength to bounce off opposite number Nick Croswell and sear round two more defenders to score. Hidalgo-Clyne's conversion was successful and Edinburgh led 10-3.

Edinburgh's penalty count had been high in the opening quarter of an hour and it continued to rise in the 18th minute. Phl Burleigh was penalised for handling in the ruck which allowed Jones to slot another long range penalty to reduce the score to 10-6.

But Edinburgh would carry on undeterred and a sniping run deep inside the Dragons 22 from Hidalgo-Clyne sent the Dragons' defence into desperation. Two decisive phases later, Hidalgo-Clyne  was the instigator once more as a deft reverse pass from five yards out put winger Tim Visser in for Edinburgh's second try. Hidalgo-Clyne hit the post with his conversion but the hosts now led 15-6 after 25 minutes.

Edinburgh threatened to break away from a stubborn Dragons side but the penalties continued to be conceded in kick-able areas. Jones was fortuitous as his third attempt required the help of the upright to narrow the deficit to 15-9. Hidalgo-Clyne's metronomic boot restored the seven point lead two minutes after with his second penalty of the match approaching half-time.

The Dragons finished the first half in a much deteriorated fashion to the one that dominated the opening five minutes and the dominant Edinburgh pack caused more strife for their Welsh counterparts. A third Hildalgo-Clyne penalty on the brink of half-time extended the Edinburgh lead to 21-9.

Dragons began the second half in the way as the first by dominating early territory. In contrast to the opening period, the visitors went in search of their first try with a 5m lineout. A series of pick and go moves resulted in prop forward Brok Harris barging over for the score. Jones converted to reduce the score to 21-14.

Having brought his side to within seven points of Edinburgh, Jones turned from hero to villain minutes after as he took out Jack Cuthbert in the air. But Hildalgo-Clyne, adding to an earlier miss, could not add the three points as the home side looked insecure under pressure.

The Dragons were reduced to 14-men for the second time as scrum-half Jonthan Evans was shown a yellow card for slowing the ball down. It came at the culmination of a superb attack initiated by Burleigh. The Kiwi fly-half switched direction in mid field and broke through two tackles before combining with Visser. Burleigh was dragged down yards short.

The resulting 5m scrum did not bring the outcome the 8,231 Murrayfield faithful desired but an excellent chase and charge down from Edinburgh second row Ben Toolis gave the home side their third try of the match. Hidalgo-Clyne recovered his kicking form with a successful conversion and Edinburgh led 28-16 after 56 minutes.

More accuracy from the tee from the scrum-half pushed Edinburgh past 30 points as the Dragons were penalised for a deliberate knock on.

The Dragons suffered in the set piece all evening and it was their scrum that was last to finally capitulate. Pushed of their own scrum by a ferocious Edinburgh pack, the home side scored their fourth and decisive try. An excellent pick up from Hidalgo-Clyne saw the 21 year-old sprint home under the posts for the try, which he converted. Edinburgh's lead extended even further to 38-16 entering the final 15 minutes.

The victory was assured with 12 minutes remaining as a searing break from Sam Beard on the back of turnover eventually put Dougie Fife in for the fifth try. Hidalgo-Clyne, justifying his position at the top of the points tally for the tournament added another conversion.

Having comfortably secured their place in the final, Edinburgh began to open up more. But despite losing another player to the sin bin – T. Rhys Thomas – the visitors endeavoured to play till the end and pressed the Edinburgh line in search of a consolation. It was endeavour in vain as Edinburgh closed out  a commanding victory.

Head coach Alan Solomons oozed delight with his side's performance which ensures a first ever European final in Scottish club history.

“This was a massive workout. You have got one chance on these things and I thought the boys did really well tonight”, Solomons said.

“I think it is fantastic for everyone involved. We have had a tough season and a lot of challenges that we have had to face. But I think we are very together as team and it is fantastic for Scottish rugby.”

“For the lads to put out a performance like that tonight without five Scottish internationals says a lot for our strength of depth.”

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who scored 25 points in the win said, “overall I thought it was an awesome win and the credit goes to the forward pack, they did an amazing job.”

“We'll take any team right now, the boys are on form. I think as a squad, it was the best performance we've had.”

Speaking of a first final for a Scottish club in Europe, the scrum-half also issued a special thanks to the fans, from both sides of the country.

“It's unbelievable. The crowd was right behind us tonight. The fans who came along as well, especially those from Glasgow were amazing.”

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Team lineups

Edinburgh Rugby
Dragons Rugby

Backs

Backs

Forwards

Forwards

Substitutes

Substitutes

Attendance: 
8 231
Man of the match: 
Ben Toolis
There is no points table for this competition.