DAVID BARNES @ The DAM Health Stadium
A COMPREHENSIVE eight-tries-to-one victory for Edinburgh saw them book a home draw in next weekend’s last 16 of the European Challenge Cup, which looks almost certain to be against Bath – unless Toulon get no match points against Biarritz tomorrow [Saturday] evening, in which case it could be any one of Worcester, Benetton, Perpignan, Saracens, Brive and Dragons.
This landslide result takes Edinburgh’s record since moving into the DAM Health Stadium at the start of this season to six wins and a draw from seven matches played. In their last three matches, against Brive, Connacht and Pau, they have amassed 176 points and conceded just 16. It is likely that next week’s game is not going to be quite so much of a procession.
“It looks likely to be Bath and that is a really exciting prospect for us to have a Premiership team up here,” said head coach Mike Blair. “I don’t think their results in the Premiership are reflective of the kind of rugby they are playing. I think they are an excellent attacking team and they have a strong set-piece.
“I’d rather that was the score!” he retorted, when asked whether a real battle at home is what his team really need now to push forward the development of this venue as an authentic fortress. “I think we’ve built a bit of momentum here, but, with that, Brive didn’t bring a full-strength team when they came here, Pau had a few guys coming back but weren’t at full-strength either, although we had a few guys missing as well. Connacht was really pleasing and Bath will be a proper test.”
Edinburgh laid down an early marker with Glen Young and Stuart McInally carrying hard straight from kick-off, before good hands from Matt Currie put Henry Pyrgos into space on the right touchline, but his kick ahead bounced into touch before and Darcy Graham scurrying up the right touchline.
Magnus Bradbury, Marshall Sykes and Connor Boyle then got in on the act, taking play up to Pau’s 22 and earning a not-rolling-away penalty which was kicked to the corner. From the line-out, Edinburgh piled a couple of backs into the maul and rumbled over the try-line, with McInally providing the finishing touch, and Jaco van der Walt converting.
Edinburgh were playing with confidence and freedom, and they extended their lead on 10 minutes when Boyle blasted over following a big carry from Pierre Schoeman ,which had left Pau hooker Ignacio Calles concussed on the turf and needing replaced.
Pau rallied briefly but couldn’t make any real in-roads, whereas Edinburgh were clinical again when got back into the strike-zone, with Boyle bagging his second off the back of another line-out drive, and the bonus point was in the bag just after the half hour mark with McInally providing some excellent link play before Ramiro Moyano chipped ahead and Pyrgos raced in for the score.
It looked like Moyano had gone from creator to finisher with a brilliant dummy and weaving run at the end of another sweeping Edinburgh attack, but just as van der Walt started the run-up for his conversion, referee Sara Cox was alerted to an infringement during the lead-up to the try. After a lengthy look at the TMO’s evidence, she ruled that there had been an obstruction and the try was chalked off.
Edinburgh didn’t allow that to break their stride, however, and WP Nel rumbled over in the corner and van der Walt nailed the touchline conversion to make it 33-0 at the break.
There was no let-up by the hosts at the start of the second half, and Moyano got his overdue try when Pyrgos’ clever kick in behind gave the Argentinean winger an unchallenged run-in. And despite being 40 points ahead now, Edinburgh showed that they were not in any mood to ease-up by battling hard to hold Pau up over the line after a rare foray into their opponents’ 22 by the French side.
Edinburgh showed that they were not in any mood to ease when they battled hard to hold Pau up over the line after a rare foray into their opponents’ 22 by the French side, but they lost their way a bit with ball in during the next 20 minutes meaning they spent almost all of the next 20 minutes hemmed into their own 22.
Eventuallu it clicked again with just over 10 minutes to go with a long passage of continuity play, which culminated inChris Dean and Charlie Shiel offloading well to send Pierce Phillips over.
Thomas Carol scored a late consolation try for the visitors, but Edinburgh had the last say with long range effort from Moyano.
Edinburgh: H Immelman (C Savala 47); D Graham, M Currie, C Hutchison (C Dean 63), R Moyano; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (C Shiel 53); P Schoeman (B Venter, 47-63), S McInally (A McBurney, 58), L De Bruin (W Nel 13), M Sykes, G Gilchrist (J Hodgson 40), G Young, C Boyle, M Bradbury (P Phillips 63).
Section Paloise: P Auradou; A Tuimaba, E Barrett, J Vatubua (T Carol 53), V Pinto; T Debaes, A Levron (C Lebail 61); T Bordenave (N Corato 42), I Calles (L Rey 12), K Yaméogo (L Vea 61), H Auradou, S Cummins (F Metz, 53), R Hewat, T Hamonou, J Joseph (G Habel Kuffner 71).
Referee: Sara Cox.
Edinburgh: Tries: McInally, Boyle 2, Pyrgos, Nel, Moyano 2, Phillips; Con: Van der Walt 6, Savala.
Pau: Try: Carol.
Scoring sequence (Pau first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 17-0; 19-0; 24-0; 26-0; 31-0; 33-0 (h-t) 38-0; 40-0; 45-0; 47-0; 47-5; 52-5; 54-5.