Scar­lets sec­ond XV given the runaround

The Rugby Paper - - Guinness Pro14 - By ROB COLE

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.

PIC­TURE: Inpho

Star man: Sam Hi­dalgo-Clyne scores for Ed­in­burgh

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