Edinburgh v Bath: comfortable win books Challenge Cup quarter-final spot for hosts

Mike Blair's side will face Wasps in the last eight at the DAM Health Stadium on the first full weekend in May

Ben Muncaster on the ball for Edinburgh versus Bath. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ben Muncaster on the ball for Edinburgh versus Bath. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 41

Bath 19

DAVID BARNES @ The DAM Health Stadium

IT took them a while, but Edinburgh picked up a fair head of steam in this match, to score 26 unanswered points in the second half on their way to booking their place in the last eight of the European Challenge Cup. This was their first win in a knock-out match since they got the better of Dragons in the semi-finals of the same competition in 2015.

Wasps will provide the opposition in this year’s quarter-final, back at the DAM Health Stadium on the the weekend 6th to 8th May. That will be a tougher test against a team with a bit more form in the English Premiership, but Mike Blair‘s side will be confident on home turf having now played nine games without tasting defeat at the venue since relocating there at the start of this season.

It was a disappointing crowd of 5,071 – more than 2,500 short of capacity – for a European knock-out match against one of the biggest names in English rugby, who might be struggling in the league at the moment but arrived in the Scottish capital fully-loaded with a host of household names. This can partially be attributed to it being a fairly antisocial slot on Easter weekend, to the fact a Scottish Cup semi-final Edinburgh derby between Hearts and His was played at Hampden earlier in the day, and to the Edinburgh marketing team having less than a week to sell the game, but it does highlight that the quest to really embed the club in the city’s sporting consciousness still has a long road to run.


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Pierre Schoeman was named player-of -the-match for a barnstorming all round performance, but it could easily have been Blair Kinghorn, who continues to impress at stand-off, with two line-breaks in the first half key to keeping Edinburgh in touch.

The visitors set the early pace with full-back Tom de Glanville collecting the kick-off and running the ball back with real purpose to win a penalty in the middle of the park, and the visitors carried that momentum right up to the home line, at which point flanker Sam Underhill burrowed over with just one minute and 41 seconds of the match played.

Stand-off Orlando Bailey slotted the conversion, but then pulled a penalty effort to the right of the posts as the English Premiership side cast off the shackles of their disappointing league form this season to dominate the first quarter of an hour of this match.

Then Edinburgh burst right back into the game when Blair Kinghorn shrugged off a tackle in midfield and timed his pass brilliantly to send Emiliano Boffelli on an unchallenged canter to the line.

Having missed the conversion to his own try, Boffelli fired home a penalty on 21 minutes to put the hosts into a single point lead, but they conceded a penalty from the restart, and compounded that lapse by failing to clear the danger when Bailey’s shot at goal came back off the post, with the quick-thinking Underhill diving in for a cheeky score after spotting that the ball had touched the try-line when it was fed back from a ruck [meaning there was no longer an offside line].

The home fans at the DAM Hill Stadium might not have liked it, but the Bath and England flanker was perfectly entitled to snatch that opportunity.

That was a blow to Edinburgh but they didn’t let it get to them, and they struck back in scintillating style when Kinghorn wrapped around James Lang and left the Bath defence for dead, turning on the after-burners as he motored under the posts. This time Boffelli nailed the conversion.

It was end to end stuff, and with six minutes still to go in the first half, Bath regained the lead when scrum-half Ben Spencer scrambled over from close range and converted himself, which made 19-15 to the visitors at the break.

 

The same man then had a chance to extend Bath’s advantage but was off target with a long-range shot at goal two minutes into the second half.  The next 10 minutes were a stalemate until Schoeman stepped up to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, bursting up the middle of the park, featuring again with another powerful surge a few phases later, and then popping up a third time score the try.

Once again, Boffelli was on the money with his conversion, and the mood out on the pitch and in the stands lifted a notch. Schoeman, in particular, was clearly up for it, buzzing round the park at breakneck speed and firing into contact like a man possessed.

With 18 minutes to play, Kinghorn sent out a speculative pass which skimmed the artificial surface and popped up neatly into Jaco van der Walt’s arms, who timed his pass well to release Boffelli. The winger still had work to do, but managed to make the line and convert himself, which meant that Edinburgh were now 10 points ahead.

That broke Bath, and Mark Bennett and Connor Boyle also got in on the try-scoring act as Edinburgh finished with a flourish.

“I said at half-time that I was frustrated, but excited,” said Blair afterwards. “I’m frustrated because we gave Bath everything they wanted at the start of the game. I was excited because when we had the ball we executed.

“I’m happy because we showed a lot of resilience to come back. Blair at 10 is a huge run-pass threat. He was excellent. Schoeman was excellent  I think I’d be good if I had 6,000 people chanting my name every time I touched the ball.”

 

Teams –

Edinburgh: H Immelman (J van der Walt, 54); R Moyano, M Bennett, J Lang (C Hutchison 67), E Boffelli; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott (H Pyrgos 64); P Schoeman ( H Courtney 69), S McInally (A McBurney 77), L Atalifo (A Williams 54), M Sykes ( G Young 62), G Gilchrist, B Muncaster, H Watson (C Boyle 64), M Bradbury.

Bath: T de Glanville (D Cipriani 72); S Rokoduguni, J Joseph , M Clark, J Cokanasiga (W Butt. 62); O Bailey, B Spencer (J Simpson 74); V Morozov ( A  Cordwell 72), T Dunn (J du Toit 72), W Stuart (D Rae 72), W Spencer (M Williams 49), C Ewels, J Bayliss, S Underhill (E  Richards 72), T Faletau.

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Boffelli 2, Kinghorn, Schoeman, Bennett, Boyle; Con: Boffelli 4; Pen: Boffelli.

Bath: Tries: Underhill 2, Spencer; Con: Bailey, Spencer.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 8-7; 8-12; 13-12; 15-12; 15-17; 15-19 (h-t) 20-19; 22-19; 27-19; 29-19; 34-19; 39-19, 41-19.

 

Yellow cards –

Edinburgh: Hutchison (72mins)


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About David Barnes 3112 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

7 Comments

  1. Agree with all other comments, I was there and what a night.

    Highlights for me … Kinhorn’s speed for his second break, that guy is fast! Really starting to look like he might hack it at 10. Mark B, how did he break through 3-4 tacklers to score? And Schu …. something else and he really adds so much energy when he gets going with the crowd going nuts.

    What was the Yellow card for, anyone see?

    Ref was getting some stick, but I couldn’t really see if he was good or bad? Only thing I did see was how often Bath were offside, with no penalty.

  2. Wow! What a second half.
    After gifting Bath a lot of their field position and points in the first half, Edinburgh tightened up on the errors and really took the game to them. Some very good individual performances, but really this was a great team effort with everyone on their game. From the front rows, both starting and subs, exerting pressure in the scrums and all over the field, to the back three offering real security in defence and kick chase – Bath threatened but never really broke the line in the way Edinburgh were able to attack and at times shred the Bath defensive line. If you can catch a highlights package, do so, this is a ream that deserves to be watched.
    Fingers crossed not too many bumps and bruises become longer term concerns as it was quite a game in terms of physical toll.
    On the crowd size, it looked a bit sparse online, but the short turn around and holiday/football took a bite out of numbers. A look at the website for the next set of games looks pretty healthy – Zebre, a good number sold and you’d better move now for a decent seat at the Ulster game.

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    • Just watched the highlights. Agree some great stuff. Blair is really making his mark, and the team are responding terrifically.

  3. Superb atmosphere at the game last night and big shout out to the young piper near us. Edinburgh seemed to come alive as soon as the daylight left and the lights came on. Kinghorn, Schoeman, Boffelli outstanding and the rest of the team and the bench weren’t far behind. I thought the crowd of 5k was a reasonable effort considering they had 6 days to sell tickets, a big % of Edinburgh was in Glasgow, its not on the season books and I’m assuming we had a really small amount Bath fans due to Easter. The DAM Health under the lights is a fantastic experience and we should have a big crowd for the wasps game.

  4. Will Kinghorn surprise us all? I’ve not been a fan of his at 10 but he is growing into the role, however Boffelli is awesome with the boot, so tough to see Kinghorn as the regular starter in the Scotland team as no other kicker present. Unless that is, Finn and Townsend really have had a bust up. Strangely I think Finn would like playing for Blair. Re the crowd – how much of the unsold capacity is standing? Most seats were filled but hardly anyone in the standing areas (as usual). What is the percentage of untaken standing places vs seats? I wonder if adding easy capacity in terms of standing areas is proving much less popular than was first thought.

  5. Was at the game last night and yes a bit surprised by the poorish attendance – seemed quite a few of the season ticket holders hadn’t taken their option on the tickets. This was one of Edinburghs best performances of the season, not because they played well the whole game but it was a good Bath side they were up against and they had to work hard for it. The first half was a struggle and Bath had by far the better of the game but Edinburgh were clinical with the few chances they had. The last 30 minutes was superb when Edinburgh upped the tempo, had more of the ball and showed their finishing skill to the full. Another tough game against Wasps. One area they will need to work in training is kick off receipts where they barely collected one successfully – always work to do.

  6. Just watched the highlights…. 26 unanswered points, Kinghorn doing Kinghorn things (but more regularly). Ultimately seemed a quite thumping and comprehensive victory. Nice to see VDW looking confident. Crowd a wee bit disappointed (maybe the late KO)

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