Timisoara Saracens v Edinburgh
Edinburgh Rugby opened their European Challenge Cup campaign in convincing fashion with a 59-17 defeat of competition newcomers Timisoara Saracens, on a night where the Scottish outfit broke several club records in scoring nine tries.
Of the tries scored, eight were attributed to members of the forward pack. Captain Stuart McInally’s first-half hat-trick was a first for the club in the Challenge Cup, and Nasi Manu followed his lead as he also bagged three tries in the game.
McInally’s record was not the only new ground broken by his side as the victory also set new club benchmarks in the European competition; highest points tally (59), biggest winning margin registered (42), most tries scored (9), and most conversions kicked (7).
The 2015 finalists were on the scoresheet after only two minutes, securing a bonus-point within 25 minutes and notching seven tries prior to the interval.
A further two Edinburgh tries in a stop-start second-half secured an empahtic win in the side’s first Europrean outing of the season.
Acting Head Coach Duncan Hodge said: “It was important for us to put down a marker, and we did that. It was great that from the first two possessions we scored two very good team tries.
“There was a few boys playing who haven’t had much game time, so it was good for them to get a run and there was a few guys who stuck their hand up today.
“Murray McCallum, for example, played 80 minutes and did exceptionally well; Lewis Carmichael got another half; Bill Mata played well; and there was some really good stuff in that performance.
“It’s good to come out here and get a comprehensive win, and can now look forward to next Saturday.”
Debutant Viliame Mata launched himself into action from the whistle setting up Michael Allen for a try in the second minute before crossing the whitewash himself after four minutes.
Jason Tovey slotted the first two of his record-breaking seven conversions to put Edinburgh 14-0 ahead with five minutes on the clock.
Timisoara’s retort came through the boot of scrum-half Valentin Calafeteanu, who kicked a penalty in the ninth minute, but McInally docked their momentum with his first try of the afternoon on 12 minutes, reaping the rewards from a wonderfully worked driving lineout maul.
The home side retaliated and scored a well-worked try in the corner through wing Stephen Shannan. Calafeteanu made it two-from-two from the tee to close the gap to just seven points in the favour of the visitors (10-17).
Queue Edinburgh’s reply through the trusty McInally who dotted down a further twice – both tries near identical to his opening score – before the half-hour mark to secure his hat-trick. Tovey’s conversion to the first of the scores put Edinburgh in a comfortable position with a 31-10 lead.
Hodge’s side continued to assert their dominance as Manu followed his captain’s lead and crossed the line twice before the interval – both of which were converted by Tovey – to put Edinburgh 45-10 up at half-time.
Half-time: Timisoara Saracens 10 – 45 Edinburgh Rugby
The second-half wasn’t the fast and furious, panache-laden affair that it showed the promise to be, with Edinburgh’s immediate focus turning to defence as the home-side launched several assaults onto the visitors’ line.
However, against the run-of-play, the men in black and red were once again first on the scoresheet through Mata, who picked a wonderful line off the ruck to cruise through the passive defence and dot down for a second score. Tovey continued to impress from the tee in adding his sixth conversion of the match.
Manu was next on the scoresheet, as he took the initiative to take a quick-tap and battle over from close range to complete his hat-trick, with Tovey bisecting the uprights with the conversion (10-59).
Timisoara, however, had the last say as Shennan scored his second of the game as he squeezed in at the corner, with Calafeteanu slotting his third kick of the game to close the scoring for the day.
Full-time: Timisoara Saracens 17 – 59 Edinburgh Rugby