Edinburgh beat Cardiff to secure top spot
URC REPORT: Edinburgh shot to the top of the United Rugby Championship table after bagging four first-half tries against Cardiff Blues.
The Scottish capital side won 34-10 to reach the summit of a combined league table for the first time since the 2009-10 Celtic League season.
The first-half tries came from each of Mike Blair’s starting centres – James Lang and Mark Bennett – and wingers Ramiro Moyano and Emiliano Boffelli.
Cardiff played the final quarter with 14 men after both Liam Belcher and James Botham were driven off injured, the latter after a lengthy spell of treatment.
They initially fared better after the stoppage, with Owen Lane breaking away to score their only try, although Bennett added his second of the day late on.
Edinburgh’s previous game was a European Challenge Cup win over Saracens four weeks earlier, but they showed no sign of rustiness as they crossed twice inside nine minutes.
The opener came after Magnus Bradbury forced a turnover deep inside Edinburgh’s half. The hosts moved the ball to the right and Lang spotted a gap to burst forward before offloading for scrum-half Ben Vellacott to set up Moyano.
The second try soon came in similar circumstances when Bennett saw the space to break the Cardiff line and feed Boffelli.
Edinburgh defended well when they had to and were quickly over after a scrum on the half-hour mark, with Bennett exchanging passes with Boffelli before crossing.
Another scrum deep in Cardiff territory led to the bonus-point try in the final minute of the half. Blair Kinghorn found Jamie Ritchie on the right wing with a long pass and the Scotland forward laid it off for Lang to cross.
Boffelli kicked seven first-half points, with Rhys Priestland’s penalty the only positive for the visitors.
Moyano came close to another try after running through a series of tackles from 10 metres inside his own half, but the second half was more scrappy, with Cardiff’s double injury blow coming around the 57-minute mark.
The visitors got their try just after the hour mark. Kinghorn spilled Ritchie’s pass and Lane broke away before dribbling the ball over the line to dive for his fourth try of the URC season.
Cardiff briefly threatened an unlikely comeback when Tomos Williams intercepted, but he lacked support and Edinburgh got back on top.
The hosts had a number of late chances and Bennett supplied an impressive 35-metre finish to round off the win.
Player of the Match
The five tries came from Edinburgh’s backs, but Bradbury shone in the pack.
The number eight’s turnover led to the opening try inside five minutes and set the tone for himself and his team.
The forward – Edinburgh’s Player of the Month for December – produced seven successful carries, four offloads and 10 tackles, two of them among the most emphatic you will see all season.
Bradbury came close to a late try to seal a dominant display.
Play of the Match
There were some impressive runs from deep from Moyano and Kinghorn, but the moves fell just short of tries.
The most impressive of the five finishes was probably Bennett’s second try when he dummied, shimmied and brushed off a tackle to go over late on.
Tries: Joya, Boffelli, Bennett 2, Lang.
Cons: Boffelli 2, Van der Walt
For Cardiff Blues:
Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Glen Young, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Chris Dean.
Cardiff: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James Botham, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 James Ratti, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Aled Summerhill.
Referee: Frank Murphy
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson & Ian Kenny
TMO: Neil Paterson