Edinburgh hit Benetton for 50
Edinburgh capped off their Scottish Building Society Pre-season Series with a stunning, eight-try win over Rainbow Cup winners Benetton Rugby at a sun-kissed Edinburgh Rugby Stadium today (50-29).
The 4880 fans in attendance were treated to a thrilling encounter throughout, with the game’s proximity to next Saturday’s opening match in the United Rugby Championship adding a much more competitive edge from the outset.
The match was only five minutes old when visiting lock Carl Wegner powered over from short range at the corner to take the lead for the Italians – stand-off Tomas Albornoz adding the extras (0-7).
Edinburgh, however, were right back at their opponents, powering up in close quarters before zipping the ball across the back division to centre Mark Bennett to dive under the sticks for his second try in as many games. Kinghorn converted (7-7).
Eventual man-of-the-match winning scrum-half Ben Vellacott then continued to deliver on his early promise to chase a kick from deep - his pressure on the tracking defender enough to force an error and then get a hand to the ball to dot down (12-7).
The half continued to ebb and flow as a Kinghorn clearance in his own 22 was charged down. Benetton recycled and, with the hosts scrambling, rumbled over through lock Niccolo Cannone, with Albornoz converting (12-14).
Albornoz added three further points from the tee to take a five-point lead for Benetton, however it was Edinburgh who struck last in the half.
A lineout, turned maul, deep in the Benetton 22, barged its way to the 5m line before the backs got their hands on the ball.
The ball went wide where a miscue in the centres was recollected by Kinghorn, who lofted a 20m pass to wing Damien Hoyland to score unchallenged on the left wing to tie the game.
Kinghorn then added the extras to give Edinburgh the lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Edinburgh Rugby 19-17 Benetton Rugby
The half was only one-minute young when the visitors latched on to an Edinburgh error in midfield, allowing Lorenzo Cannone to run under the sticks for the score, converted by Albornoz.
However the hosts were undeterred by their early set back and raced straight up to the opposite end.
Darcy Graham dodged and weaved and Pierre Schoeman bulldozed, before Luke Crosbie crossed the paint at the posts and Kinghorn converted (26-24).
Captain Stuart McInally then dove over from short range to extend his side’s lead with an unconverted score (31-24).
Replacement centre James Lang then announced his arrival in his new club’s colours, making a scintillating break from his own half, carried on in fine offloading fashion by Ben Muncaster and Bennett, though the side were eventually penalised five metres out with the crowd on their feet.
Muncaster – an early replacement for Nick Haining – was then rewarded for an industrious afternoon with a try from the back of a maul that blasted over from the 5m line. Replacement stand-off Charlie Savala kicked a fine conversion (38-24).
Edinburgh’s tails were well and truly up by this point as they broke down field between the 15m and 5m channels, repeatedly timing the draw and pass to perfection to create space at speed, before finding Hoyland who blazed across the line for the try of the afternoon (43-24).
Hoyland’s celebrations were, however, cut short as he was soon back defending the high ball.
Despite collecting the ball cleanly mid-flight, he was taken out in the air and lost possession. With play allowed to continue, Benetton picked up the loose ball to score at the corner (43-29).
Edinburgh deservedly finished the match in the attacking form they had showcased throughout to complete an unrelenting afternoon, when 19-year-old hooker Patrick Harrison pushed over from the back of the mall from short range.
Savala added the extras to put the hosts on a more-than-pleasing half century, one week out from the start of United Rugby Championship, when Edinburgh play host to Scarlets at the ERS one week today.
FULL-TIME: Edinburgh Rugby 50-29 Benetton Rugby