Challenge Cup: Edinburgh crush Russians in record victory

Darcy Graham in action against Krasny Yar. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson




 EDINBURGH, it seems, do not do banana skins any more. There was a time when a home game against supposedly easy opponents would have had ‘upset’ written all over it, but they are a more solid and dependable outfit now, and applied themselves with commendable professionalism to run up a record victory

Richard Cockerill’s team are now within sight of a place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, and will qualify this afternoon if London Irish beat Stade Francais without a bonus point. Even if that match ends up differently, they are still firm favourites to go through after claiming their fourth bonus win in four Pool 4 matches They may need to take something from next month’s double-header against the Parisian club, but  that should be eminently possible against a side who have already lost two of their three games.

Edinburgh scored 12 tries and half a dozen conversions, while scoreless Krasny Yar had two players yellow-carded. Their previous record score – the 73-14 win against the same opponents in Moscow in the first round of pool games – looked in danger from the opening moment of the game, and once it was obvious who would win the contest, the only uncertainty was just how many points Edinburgh would score.

For assistant coach Roddy Grant, while such a high tally was an obvious source of satisfaction, the team’s defensive effort was just as significant as an indication of their ability to remain focused on the job. “Probably the more pleasing thing was we didn’t concede a point,” the former Edinburgh forward said. “We conceded two tries when we played them in Moscow. I guess it’s always pleasing to keep a clean sheet and win by a reasonable amount.”


Another plus was the absence of fresh injury concerns as attention turns to the two 1872 Cup games against Glasgow over the next fortnight. Having played in the fixture himself, Grant knows how keenly it is awaited by the players.

“From a coaching point of view it’s good that there’s clearly confidence within the players and that guys are playing well,” he continued. “It always helps winning the week before. The boys will be up for it and I’m sure it will be a tasty week of training for everyone.”

Duhan van der Merwe gave Edinburgh the lead with barely a minute on the clock, and Blair Kinghorn, a late change at 10 in place of the ill Jaco van der Walt, added the conversion. They laboured a bit for a while after that and were bogged down in their own half, but after quarter of an hour Chris Dean got the second.

Even at that stage it was clear that Krasny Yar had a fight on their hands merely to keep the margin of defeat respectable, and their cause was not helped when flanker Viktor Arhip was sinbinned a minute after Dean’s score. Edinburgh capitalised almost immediately on the advantage, and after a break by Darcy Graham, Lewis Carmichael scored in the right corner. A similar score by Jamie Ritchie secured the bonus point before the end of the first quarter, and Kinghorn continued to keep the conversions on target.

The stand-off soon  got the fifth himself, outsprinting the defence from 40 metres out, then after half an hour laid on the sixth for Sean Kennedy after an accomplished break out of defence by Damien Hoyland. Neil Cochrane got in on the act five minutes before the break, peeling off the back of a maul to sprint for the line from 15 metres out, and for the first time Kinghorn was off target with the conversion attempt.

Cockerell made three changes at the start of the second half, bringing on Cammy Fenton, Luke Crosbie and Junior Rasolea for Cochrane, Cornell du Preez and James Johnstone respectively. If the aim was to keep the squad on their toes, it worked as within a minute and a half of the restart Graham got the scoreboard moving again.

After that, however, the tempo died down a little as Krasny Yar dug deep to limit the damage. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was next off the bench, taking over at stand-off, a position in which Edinburgh are short at present with both Duncan Weir and Jason Tovey out injured. Just after Nathan Fowles replaced Kennedy, Hidalgo-Clyne angled a kick for Hoyland to run on to, and the winger beat a tiring offence to the ball for try No 9.

Edinburgh made it 10 tries and 10 different scorers with quarter of an hour to play, when Rasolea ran on to a crash ball from a penalty scrum right in front of the Russians’ posts. Hidalgo-Clyne brought a run of missed conversions to an end, and then Krasny Yar suffered another yellow card, this time for replacement hooker Valeriy Tsnobiladze after his team had offended one time too many and exhausted the referee’s patience.

Fenton became the 11 different try-scorer, and Hidalgo-Clyne was on target again to make it 71-0 after 71 minutes. Van der Merwe put the variety to an end with his second try five minutes later, gathering a kick ahead after a defender had fumbled it, and Hidalgo-Clyne added the two points for the last score of the match.


Edinburgh: D Graham; D Hoyland, J Johnstone, C Dean, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, S Kennedy; R Sutherland, N Cochrane, M McCallum, F McKenzie, L Carmichael, M Bradbury, J Ritchie, C du Preez. Substitutes: C Fenton, M Shields, L Crosbie, N Fowles, S Hidalgo-Clyne, J Rasolea.


Krasny Yar: V Artemyev; S Latu, G Pruidze, K Golosnitskii, E Kolomiitsev; L Malaguradze, V Dorofeev; S Fukofuka, A Kondakov, A Bitiev, A Mahu, A Garbuzov, V Gresev, V Arhip, O Prepelitse. Substitutes: V Tsnobiladze, G Tsnobiladze, M Tsiklauri, A Khudiakov, E Zykov, A Riabov, I Galinovskiy, F Apikotoa.


Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Dean, Carmichael, Ritchie, Kinghorn, Kennedy, Cochrane, Graham, Hoyland, Rasolea, Fenton. Cons: Kinghorn 6, Hidalgo-Clyne 3.


Scoring sequence: 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 21-0, 26-0, 28-0, 33-0, 35-0, 40-0, 42-0, 47-0 half-time, 52-0, 57-0, 62-0, 64-0, 69-0, 71-0, 76-0, 78-0.


Yellow cards: Krasny Yar: Arhip,Tsnobiladze.


Referee: D Wilkinson (Ireland).


Attendance: 2,773.


About Stuart Bathgate 1355 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.