Edinburgh 38 Bordeaux-Begles 20: Three talking points
Gunners reach European Challenge Cup quarter-finals with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne leading an impressive bonus-point win over the French
Sammie show seals knockout rugby
Just days after being called up to Scotland’s Six Nations squad, Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was again at his best with a man of the match performance to guide the Gunners into the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals. The influential 21-year-old sniped for two tries and landed 18 points off the tee. It’s perhaps not so much of a surprise that the Granada-born man was pulling the strings after his recent good form for his club – the sort of form that would normally demand an international start were it not for the fact that he has to oust the Scotland captain and a man of considerable experience in former Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw. If there was a blemish, it was he didn’t quite have the accuracy off the tee from distance but, with 28 points and his side through to the last eight, it barely matters with his control otherwise sublime as the home side looked threatening with every attack and Hidalgo-Clyne had a hand in getting Matt Scott and WP Nel into position to score the Gunners’ other two tries.
Pack dominance lays platform
Edinburgh’s tight five probably don’t get the plaudits they deserve, despite their recent demolition on rivals Glasgow Warriors, but they were magnificent in providing Hidalgo-Clyne with the platform to get the backline motoring. The front row of Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and Nel were mighty at the scrum, despite a couple lost, and more than handy in the loose with Nel continuing to confound with his immense try-scoring ability from close range, while Ford was among Edinburgh’s top performers in defence. Locks Ben Toolis and Anton Bresler were again dominant at the lineout – only once did Ford fail to get his throw right – with Bresler putting in his usual brutal shift in clearing out rucks and getting more than a few carries for good measure. Replacement tighthead prop John Andress finished the game in the sin bin, along with opposite number Jefferson Poirot, but it won’t take a Belgian detective to uncover that many of the scrum infringements originated from the French side and Andress was unfortunate to have his cameo cut short. There may be disappointment from Edinburgh that their backline didn’t pop as much as they could have, but with the forwards leading the way, it was an armchair ride in a bonus-point win.
Flat Bordeaux get a tannin
Famed for running the ball from deep and an attractive offloading game, Raphaël Ibañez and his side will be disappointed not to have made too many inroads into the Edinburgh half with swash-buckling breaks. Turnovers (17 of them) and needless penalties proved costly. Captain Baptiste Serin showed glimpses of what he can do at full-back, but also looked nervy at times and may be have been better utilised at scrum-half. It was a night when outside-half Lionel Beauxis lived up to the reputation that Frenchmen, in particular French internationals, don’t travel well. His second-half replacement Pierre Bernard injecting some creativity into their attack, which also gave them more chances to move the ball out wide, but it was too little too late, and they didn’t do enough to deserve the 20 points they scored, their two tries in the second half with the result looking beyond them were aided by the unnecessarily supersized in-goal area. Their set-piece work was poor for much of the match and to allow Edinburgh to cruise to victory with a guaranteed place in the quarter-finals on the line speaks volumes about where the French club are at. They may have claimed to want a place in the quarter-finals, but the effort from the side they put out was never going to deliver that against an Edinburgh team slowly getting better as the season progresses. Now that dream is over, unless London Welsh can win for the first time in 21 matches against Lyon on Sunday.