Edinburgh v Southern Kings
On a wet and wild night, which saw Myreside drenched by rain and hail storms, Edinburgh returned to winning ways; running in five tries to secure a bonus point victory against a toothless Southern Kings outfit
It was Richard Cockerill’s side’s eighth win in the Guinness PRO14 so far this season and the squad’s tenth victory from the last 12 games in all competitions. Whilst the performance was far from perfect – a result of sticky conditions and a heavy pitch – the result keeps the team within touching distance of third place Ulster, and automatic Champions Cup qualification.
Head Coach Richard Cockerill praised the hard work and tenacity his side showed throughout tonight’s bonus-point victory, and said: “I was really pleased with the effort considering the horrible conditions. We scored five tries and secured five points. We'll move on and keep looking to shift up the table.
“We’ve had two tough games against a very good team in Glasgow Warriors, then Southern Kings made us work really hard tonight in some tough conditions. The next two weeks are huge for us. If we beat Stade Francais here at Myreside next week, then we’re in the quarter finals. That’s always been our aim and we’ll go into that game full of confidence.”
Cockerill was also delighted with the contributions of Scotland international centre Mark Bennett, who this evening made his long-awaited debut following a lengthy layoff due to injury.
“He played well tonight and had some good touches,” said the Head Coach. “He was tough with ball and it’s a really good start for him. He’s been good in training, and I said during the week that we probably held him back and that was the right thing to do.”
Despite much of the pre-match focus falling on the shoulders of the aforementioned Bennett, it was his back line partner Blair Kinghorn who looked the most threatening in the opening stages. The full back is so often Edinburgh’s game breaker and looked every bit as dangerous as both sides built early phases in attack.
Edinburgh were let off the hook when Kurt Coleman pulled his lengthy penalty attempt wide, before the stand off’s compatriot and opposite number Jaco van der Walt nailed a penalty of his own to give the hosts an early three-point lead.
It was to get better for Edinburgh only moments later as the first try of the match arrived via the unlikeliest of sources. As the long-limbed Grant Gilchrist charged down an attempted box kick inside the Southern Kings twenty-two, the ball ricocheted into the path of the second-row. With a defender bearing down on him, Gilchrist hit a need through ball to himself before diving over for the game’s first score.
Edinburgh would soon double their advantage and once again a neat chip was involved. This time Blair Kinghorn was the man who benefited as the full back raced onto Chris Dean’s well-placed grubber. It was the host’s second try in as many minutes and suddenly it was advantage Edinburgh after such a slow start to the match. Richard Cockerill’s side held a well-deserved 15-0 lead at the break
As the conditions worsened, so did the quality in which both teams attacked. Multiple phases were a struggle, but Edinburgh soon adapted and grabbed their third try of the match – which arrived swiftly after van der Walt had split the uprights to record his second penalty of the evening.
With the Kings’ defence in disarray and spread thinly on their own try line, van der Walt threw a beautifully lofted pass to his countryman Duhan van der Merwe, who had the simple task of touching down out wide. Smiles all round, but the fourth, and bonus-point securing try would not come easy.
With only ten minutes remaining in the match, van der Walt nudged a penalty into the corner which Edinburgh duly secured. As the pack made a move at the line, the Kings did excellently to filter the rolling maul almost diagonally across the park – that was before Cameron Fenton broke free. The replacement hooker – who hadn’t been on the park long – was the man at the bottom of the pile as Edinburgh crashed over the try line, much to the delight of the home support.
The visitors would grab a late consolation through Ntabeni Dukisa, before Dougie Fife pounced on a defensive error to provide the coup de grace at the other end.
Five tries. Five points. Job done.