Scarlets second XV given the runaround
EDINBURGH closed the gap on Scarlets to a single point in the race for a home quarterfinal with one game left to play in the regular PRO14 season as they plundered eight tries at Murrayfield.
Wayne Pivac made 13 changes to the side that had beaten Glasgow last weekend as he protected his top side for Saturday’s Champions Cup showdown with Leinster in Dublin.
Without a bonus point here they will have to bag the full five against the Dragons on Judgement Day to guarantee second place in Conference B.
Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side now host Glasgow, already guaranteed a home semi-final, in the final 1872 Cup game in their last outing. They need only a point to stave off a late burst from Ulster for third place.
“That was just what we needed after losing our last two matches – we really showed what we can do,” said Edinburgh’s man of the match, Magnus Bradbury, below. “We started well and we wanted to keep our foot on the throat through the whole 80 minutes. That makes it a bit tighter at the top.”
As for Scarlets, they will head home licking their wounds, but without too much damage, other than to their pride, ahead of their European semi-final.
“There will be a lot of learnings for our younger players from that. We were certainly the second best team,” said Pivac. The home side started with a bang and picked up one of the fastest bonuspoints of the PRO14 season as they bagged four tries in 23 minutes, 13 seconds. It took them just seven minutes to set out their stall as centre James Johnstone jinked past the first line of defence to create an overlap try for Blair Kinghorn, who later picked up a knee injury that could bring his season to a premature end. There was a hint of a forward pass, but Sam Hidalgo-Clyne opted for a drop-goal conversion, that missed the mark, while South African referee Stuart Berry was watching a second replay of the score, and that ruled out any appeal. The scrum-half hit the mark with his next three attempts as Edinburgh built up a 26point lead. First South African powerhouse Duhan van der Merwe bounced off Tom Varndell and swatted aside Dan Jones in a 40 metre run for the line.
Next up was HidalgoClyne himself, rounding off a move that began when
Ryan Elias lost the ball in contact near half-way. The bonus point came moments later when the outstanding Bradbury galloped over wide on the right.
When the Scarlets finally managed to get their hands on the ball they created space for Varndell and Dan Jones to score. It cut the gap to 12 points and at least gave his side some hope of a recovery.
That hope was quickly extinguished as Van der Merwe latched onto a superb kick ahead by Hildalgo-Clyne and then replacement flanker Luke Crosbie rounded off an exhausting period of play that lasted 3 mins, 12 sec with the sixth score.
Duncan Weir snapped up a loose ball on his 22 to race clear and send Mark Bennett over for a magnificent seventh. Replacement scrum-half Nathan Fowles then scored from a clever line-out move for the final try.
Star man: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne scores for Edinburgh