Former captain scores against Kings
PRO14 REPORT: Edinburgh built on last weekend’s 1872 Cup success with a nine-try (61-13) win over 13-man Southern Kings, who fought courageously on their first appearance since November.
Pieter Scholtz’s early red card undermined Kings’ positive start, and despite tries from Erich Cronje and JT Jackson, home scores from former Kings captain Mike Willemse, Duhan van der Merwe, Matt Scott, James Johnstone, Eroni Sau, Dave Cherry, Charlie Shiel, Mark Bennett and a penalty try sealed victory for the hosts.
The Scotsmen have now been beaten just once in nine in all competitions and leapfrog Scarlets at the top of Conference B, while defeat leaves the South Africans with just one win to their name in 2019/20.
It was a hotly contested start to proceedings at BT Murrayfield, and both Nick Haining and Jackson were subjected to big hits in the opening minutes as both sides looked to gain the ascendency.
Kings looked full of energy from the off and they were the first to get on the scoreboard when Cronje latched on to Jackson’s sumptuous cross-field kick to dot down inside 10 minutes.
But the visitors’ joy was short-lived, when Scholtz was shown a red card just three minutes later for striking John Barclay in the throat.
And the hosts immediately made the most of their one-man advantage, Willemse bulldozing over in his first match against his old side, with Jaco van der Walt converting to give Edinburgh the lead after quarter-of-an-hour.
Despite the momentum now seemingly in Edinburgh’s favour, the away side fought back valiantly, and Jackson restored their advantage with his boot after Lewis Carmichael was penalised under the posts.
With the half-hour mark looming however, South African star van der Merwe made his first real contribution to the game for Edinburgh, producing an individual piece of brilliance to evade the Southern Kings defence and go over in the corner for his fifth Pro14 score this season.
Just three minutes later, a glorious offload from Sau set up Scott who finished off smartly in the corner to give Richard Cockerill’s men some breathing space, but there was still time for Jackson to go over before the break to leave everything to play for in the second half.
But within five minutes of the restart Edinburgh had secured the bonus point, Johnstone being left with an easy finish after Blair Kinghorn had drawn Jackson into a challenge on the right flank, with van der Walt converting to hand the hosts a 13-point lead with 33 minutes to go.
With only 27 minutes left on the clock, the Kings’ task got even harder when they were reduced to 13 men as a result of De-Jay Terblanche going off injured, and despite battling bravely, Edinburgh eventually broke through for their fifth score with a penalty try in the 67th minute.
A yellow card for Aston Fortuin reduced Robbi Kempson’s men to 12 temporarily, and Sau capitalised with a great finish with ten minutes left, before Cherry, Siel and Bennett added gloss to the scoreline.
Man of the match – James Johnstone
There were plenty of worthy candidates within the Edinburgh squad, with Lewis Carmichael, Grant Gilchrist and Mike Willemse all impressing, while Pierre Schoeman and Luke Crosbie were very effective off the bench.
But Johnstone stood up to be counted from the off, getting through a bucketload of work in the midfield and capping off a top performance with a deserved try.
Play of the Day
Even with one less man on the pitch for the majority of the first half, Southern Kings continued to test Edinburgh, and the Scotsmen were crying out for a moment of magic to turn the game in their favour.
Enter Duhan van der Merwe. The ball was spread out to the 24-year-old following a scrum, and with plenty still to do, the winger beat all in front of him to breathe some life into Edinburgh’s until-then lacklustre display.
Tries: Willemse, Van der Merwe, Scott, Johnstone, Sau, Cherry, Shiel, Bennett, Penalty try
Cons: Van der Walt 7, penalty try does not require a conversion
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Cronje, Jackson
Yellow card: Aston Fortuin (Southern Kings, 67)
Red card: Pieter Scholtz (Southern Kings, 12)
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Nick Haining, 7 John Barclay, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 WP Nel, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Mark Bennett.
Southern Kings: 15 Courtney Winnaar, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Howard Mnisi (captain), 11 Erich Cronje, 10 John-Thomas Jackson, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Ruaan Lerm, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 De-Jay Terblanche, 19 JC Astle, 20 Bobby de Wee, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Andell Loubser.
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ben Blain (Scotland), Jonny Erskine (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Report by @PRO14Official