Edinburgh V Benetton
Edinburgh scored four tries to secure a nervy bonus-point victory against Benetton at BT Murrayfield this evening.
It’s the capital side’s second win of the season – and their second at home in as many weeks – and lifts them to fourth place in Conference B; level on points with tonight’s visitors.
Edinburgh dominated early proceedings and shot out to an early lead following tries from Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe and Blair Kinghorn. However, Benetton refused to lie down and with a try on the stroke of half-time, the Italians trailed by just nine points.
Dougie Fife finish a sweeping backline manoeuvre to secure the bonus-point on 49 minutes, but that was to be Edinburgh’s last points of the evening as Benetton staged a second-half comeback.
Further tries from Luca Sperandio – who on the night notched up a hat-trick of scores – and a 74th minute from effort from flanker Marco Barbini made it a one-point game with only minutes remaining and BT Murrayfield held its breath.
With only fourteen men on the park following Grant Gilchrist’s 70th minute yellow card, Edinburgh battled against a hugely-physical Benetton outfit to close out the match, and with one last scrum, Richard Cockerill’s side were awarded a penalty – much to the relief of the home support.
Speaking following the match, Richard Cockerill gave a frank assessment of his side’s performance.
“You can’t play that against a side like Benetton who we knew would attack well. We can’t afford to fall off tackles and not defend properly – it’s just not good enough.
“We had a lot of the ball in the first 20 minutes, but after that we just looked soft. It cost us and we’re probably lucky to have won.”
Despite Cockerill’s justified frustration, Edinburgh showcased an attacking edge throughout the opening 40 minutes.
Scott, Van der Merwe and Kinghorn’s tries all came from scintillating backline breakaways – a major positive on an evening in which both sides struggled to build attacking momentum.
“I’m obviously happy with the five points,” explained Cockerill. “Some parts of our attacking game, especially in that opening 40 minutes, was really good. But, our ability to defend was horrific and it was unacceptable.
Whilst Edinburgh will be ultimately disappointed to have left Benetton back into the contest, especially considering Fife’s 49th minute try made it 31-15, Cockerill was pleased with how his side closed out the encounter – especially consider their numerical disadvantage.
“We showed that we’ve got a bit of dog to stay in there and hold out,” added Cockerill. “But look, it’s five points and when we look back at the end of the season, it’s still five points. However, the squad know we’ve got to improve for Cheetahs next week.”
Edinburgh now have the luxury of a second week at home following three fixtures on the road in the opening four rounds.
Cheetahs are the visitors to BT Murrayfield next Friday night in a match Edinburgh will be hoping to win in order to build some early season momentu