Edinburgh thrash Scarlets
PRO14 REPORT: Duhan van der Merwe scored two tries as Edinburgh took a big step towards qualifying for the Pro14 Final Series by thrashing a much-changed Scarlets 52-14 at Murrayfield.
After losing at home to Ulster last time out, Edinburgh are now nine points ahead of their nearest challengers and victory over Glasgow Warriors in two weeks' time will seal their play-off place.
Richard Cockerill's side ran in eight tries in total in what was a ruthless performance that closed the gap between them and Scarlets to just one point in Conference B, meaning a home semifinal is still up for grabs.
Edinburgh flew out of the traps by scoring two tries in the first nine minutes, a slick move from left to right ended with James Johnstone putting in Blair Kinghorn.
Almost straight from the restart, Kinghorn fed the ball to Van der Merwe, who escaped the attempted tackle of Tom Varndell before sprinting clear down the left.
A third try for the hosts followed when Jaco van der Walt dummied to get through a gap before sending Sam Hidalgo-Clyne away for a 50-metre dash to the line.
The bonus point was wrapped up inside 24 minutes when Ben Toolis off-loaded to Chris Dean, who timed his pass to give the lively Magnus Bradbury a score he deserved.
Scarlets finally found a response when Varndell made the most of being given space to score in the corner and when Dan Jones was fed by Lewis MacLeod after a good spell of pressure, the gap was down to 26-14 at half-time.
But Edinburgh regained full control of the game after the break and Van der Merwe had his second on 46 minutes after a lovely kick ahead by Hidalgo-Clyne bounced kindly for him.
Try number six for the hosts followed when Mark Bennett got away down the right before off-loading to Cornell du Preez, whose pass inside gave Luke Crosbie a simple finish.
There was no let-up in the closing stages, with Duncan Weir seizing on a loose ball and breaking clear before timing his pass to allow Bennett to get in on the act.
And Edinburgh's half-century was brought up off the final play, when a clever line-out from Neil Cochrane led to Nathan Fowles catching the Scarlets defence unawares to score.
Tries: Kinghorn, Van der Merwe 2, Hidalgo-Clyne, Bradbury, Crosbie, Bennett, Fowles
Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne 5, Weir
Tries: Varndell, Jones
Cons: Jones 2
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Jordan Lay.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Luke Crosbi, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Mark Bennett.
Scarlets: 15 Rhys Jones, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Ioan Nicholas, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Will Boyde, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Dylan Evans.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Phil Price, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Shaun Evans, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Corey Baldwin, 23 Tom Rogers.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: David Sutherland (Scotland), Dunx McClement (Scotland)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)