Van der Merwe stars as Edinburgh record big win
MATCH REPORT: Duhan van der Merwe scored two tries on his return to Edinburgh colours as the Scottish club triumphed 53-8 over Benetton.
British and Irish Lions wing Van der Merwe rejoined Edinburgh from Worcester earlier this month and crossed twice in the second half as Mike Blair’s men ran in nine tries in total at the DAM Health Stadium.
There was also a brace for URC top try scorer Darcy Graham, who took his season tally to eight, helping Edinburgh get back to winning ways after three straight defeats to South African opposition.
A Tomas Albornoz penalty from the edge of the 22 gave Benetton an early lead after the home scrum had offended.
Although the midway point in the half came and went without further scoring, the home team gradually got on top.
The breakthrough came after half an hour when, following two half-breaks by Graham in midfield, lock Sam Skinner was out on the right touchline to score his first try for the team.
Emiliano Boffelli failed to add the conversion but was on target with the extra points after Luke Crosbie touched down from close range in the final minute of the half.
Edinburgh went for the jugular straight from the restart and got their reward when Pierre Schoeman finished off from a couple of metres out. This time Boffelli’s kick crashed back off a post, but Edinburgh were still two full scores up and on track for the bonus point.
That duly arrived just three minutes later when Van der Merwe shrugged off one would-be tackler and sidestepped a second to touch down close to the posts. The conversion was good this time and the game was in the bag.
Graham added a fifth minutes later, running in unopposed on the right after an excellent break by Mark Bennett was taken on by Blair Kinghorn and Boffelli. WP Nel forced his way over from less than a metre out for his team’s sixth.
Boffelli converted Nel’s try after missing Graham’s, but then failed to convert his own – Edinburgh’s seventh.
Van der Merwe got his second 10 minutes from time after getting up in support of an Adam McBurney break.
Toa Halafihi scored a late unconverted consolation try for the visitors, but Edinburgh had the last word when Graham kicked ahead up the right, gathered and touched down for his team’s ninth try, which was also unconverted.
Player of the Match
Edinburgh blindside flank Nick Haining was a key component of a home pack which gradually grew to dominate their Italian counterparts.
The glamorous work may have been carried out by the backs, but Haining and co laid the foundations for a highly impressive victory.
Play of the match
With the bonus point in the bag early in the second half, Edinburgh’s backs cut loose for the fifth and finest try of the evening.
Bennett sliced through the middle, Kinghorn and Boffelli took the move on to the right, and finally Graham raced in all but unopposed to touch down.
Tries: Skinner, Crosbie, Schoeman, Van Der Merwe 2, Graham 2, Nel, Bofelli
Cons: Boffelli 4
Edinburgh: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 David Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Charlie Savala, 23 Chris Dean.
Benetton: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Ratuva Tavuyara, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Toa Halafihi, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Marco Lazzaroni (captain), 3 Nahuel Tetaz, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Manuel Arroyo, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Nicola Piantella, 20 Alessandro Izekor, 21 Manfredi Albanese, 22 Filippo Drago, 23 Dewi Passarella.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuisen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jonny Perriam (Scotland), Ru Campbell (Scotland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)