Edinburgh Secure European Quarter Final Place With Five Try Win Over Agen
Richard Cockerill’s men will have to wait slightly longer for confirmation on who they will face in the quarter finals, but Edinburgh managed to secure their place in the next stage of the competition with a five try, bonus point win at BT Murrayfield this evening.
Darcy Graham ran in four of Edinburgh’s five tries. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
Edinburgh secured their place in the Challenge Cup quarter finals this evening with a 36-0 bonus point win over Agen at BT Murrayfield.
Head coach Richard Cockerill’s men ran in a total of five tries – four of which belonged to eventual man of the match, Darcy Graham – in order to put themselves through to the next stage of the European competition.
“It was job done and we just move on,” Cockerill explained post-match. “You can’t overanalyse every game you play – it was a five-try win and we take it and we just get on with it.”
He continued saying, “I think you’ve got to learn just to stay in the game, and if you do things well you create opportunities. When we did [play well], we created opportunities and we scored points. When we didn’t, we got punished for it.”
“So, it’s what ifs and buts and maybes. The reality is we won the game, we won it comfortably, job done. If we played like that against a better side, we would struggle but we didn’t and you can’t always over-analyse or be over-critical. We played, we won, job done. Let’s move on.”
It was a somewhat frustrating opening quarter for the home side as they seemed to struggle to find a real foothold in the match. Fly half Jaco Van Der Walt ultimately opened the night’s scoring with a penalty goal when Agen were penalised in front of the posts.
Agen had an opportunity to equalise after 18 minutes when the referee ruled in their favour at the breakdown. Unfortunately for the French outfit – who have failed to take a single point in pool three of the competition – Raphael Lagarde’s attempt failed in accuracy and so, his side remained pointless in the match.
Edinburgh’s accuracy at a lineout on the far side did not fail, however. Quick ball released centre George Taylor – brought into the side in place of Matt Scott – who fed Hamish Watson who carried for a few short yards before spotting Darcy Graham and giving the pass to put the winger in for the maiden try. With Van Der Walt’s conversion, Edinburgh were 10 points up on the scoreboard and it seemed the floodgates of Graham’s scoring were officially opened.
His next score – which went unconverted – came when Edinburgh seemed to be struggling to find a gap in Agen’s defence. Graham was fed the ball 10 yards into the opposition half and decided to carve his own way through for a second score in the match.
The Hawick-born back completed a hattrick before half time when his side recycled ball quickly from a lineout, allowing Van Der Walt to put in a long, spiralling pass to Graham out wide, and the winger had no issues running in yet another five points. With Van Der Walt adding the extras, Edinburgh ran in at half time sporting a 22-0 lead.
They seemed unwilling to yield in the second 40 minutes as well, as they continued to add to their tally of three tries, pushing for the bonus point and the best position they could capture in the quarter finals table.
The scrums seemed problematic for the majority, but the lineouts continue to produce for the capital club. This time it was replacement lock Fraser McKenzie – back to playing following a niggling neck injury – who proved to be the safe hands at the set piece.
Quick ball was once more the key, as it allowed Graham to burst and break, seemingly out of nowhere, to singlehandedly provide Edinburgh with the bonus point they so desired. This score saw replacement fly half Simon Hickey step up to the kicking tee, and with his attempt successful, Edinburgh moved to a 29-0 lead.
Everything one scintillating winger can do, another can do just as well. And so, it will have been of no real surprise to any of the Edinburgh fans in attendance when Duhan Van Der Merwe found himself crossing the whitewash in yet another match.
Replacement Henry Pyrgos took ball out of the base of a scrum on the Agen five metre line, feeding it out to Hickey who swooped a pass on to Van Der Merwe, providing the South African with a clear run in on the far wing. Hickey’s conversion ended the night’s scoring and secured the final score of 36-0.
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; D Graham, M Bennett, G Taylor, D van der Merwe; J Van Der Walt, N Groom; P Schoeman, D Cherry, WP Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, L Crosbie, H Watson, N Haining. Subs: M Willemse, R Sutherland, P Ceccarelli, F McKenzie, J Barclay, H Pyrgos, S Hickey, C Dean.
Agen: L Berdeu; JJ Taulagi, J Sadie, N Decron, B Masilevu; R Lagarde, P Abadie; G Tetrashvili, C Martinez, W Desmaison, P Phillips, A Motoc, R Briatte, J Jegerlhener, D Hayes. Subs: P Ngauamo, F Correa, C Chabeaudie, A Tarazona, G Maravat, H Verdu, S Vaka, J Jane.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.
Edinburgh: Tries: Graham 4, Van Der Merwe. Cons: Van Der Walt 2, Hickey 2. Pens: Van Der Walt.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-0), (3-0), (8-0), (10-0), (15-0), (20-0), (22-0) HT (27-0), (29-0), (34-0), (36-0) FT.
Man of the Match: Darcy Graham.