Southern Kings v Edinburgh
Edinburgh returned to winning ways in Port Elizabeth this evening with a seven-try rout of the Southern Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Captain Fraser McKenzie, lock Grant Gilchrist, flanker Bill Mata and wing Dougie Fife all crossed the whitewash before replacement scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne bagged a hat-trick in the closing stages.
After the game, Head Coach Richard Cockerill said: “We started very well, but they are a dangerous team, and if you give them opportunities by being inaccurate, then they will take them.
“Kings stayed with us, but with the internationals back in and the bench being strong, we played with good tempo and a good attitude. We felt last week against the Cheetahs that the score didn’t reflect how good we played, so I’m pleased tonight.
“It’s been a good two weeks for us as a group and it’s good to get the five points to keep us looking up the table rather than down the table.”
Edinburgh started the game positively, building patiently through the opening exchanges and controlling the game well.
Captain McKenzie opened the scoring with only three minutes on the clock – a score which new South African stand-off Jaco van der Walt converted on his first start for the capital side. (0-7)
The visitors were again on the ascendancy shortly after, as Bill Mata powered up the right flank to give Edinburgh a 12-point advantage with only six minutes on the clock. (0-12)
Van der Walt and Kings stand-off Kurt Coleman exchanged penalties, both hitting the target either side of a yellow card which was shown to home captain Schalk Ferreira. (3-15)
Lock Grant Gilchrist, one of six internationalists to join the squad in Port Elizbeth following their involvement with the Scotland squad during the Autumn Tests, barrelled over for Edinburgh’s third mid-way through the first half but by then the Kings had taken a foothold in the game.
The Kings backline, renowned for their pace and power, showed how dangerous they can be on the break when centre Harlon Klaasen, a threat all night with ball in hand, scooped up a drop ball in midfield to sprint past Edinburgh’s defence to score a fine solo try. Coleman landed two more penalties to reduce the gap to six points at half-time. (16-22)
Edinburgh regrouped after the break with fullback Blair Kinghorn particularly dangerous, both under the high ball and in attack.
The capital club snatched the bonus point on the hour mark when winger Dougie Fife scrambled over, Nathan Fowles finding him down the blind-side of a five-metre scrum. (16-27)
Fowles’ replacement Hidalgo-Clyne then finished the game off shortly after, dotting down after a pick-and-go and adding his second from close range. As the Kings dwindled in the closing stages, the scrum-half finished off his hat-trick by bursting through under the posts. (16-48)
The Kings had the last say in the game however, with a consolation try from Dries van Schalkwyk, but Edinburgh had already sealed a convincing win and head home to colder climes for two important European Challenge Cup games against London Irish and Krasny Yar before Glasgow lie in wait at BT Murrayfield in the first leg of the 1872 Cup on Saturday 23 December. (21-48)