Edinburgh 24-10 Benetton: Capital club up to second as Blair Kinghorn shines

Edinburgh moved up second place in the United Rugby Championship with a bonus-point victory over Benetton illuminated by an impressive display from stand-off Blair Kinghorn.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 10:05 pm
Blair Kinghorn got just enough downward pressure to score Edinburgh's third try after loose passing by Benetton. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Starting the game in the No 10 role, he had a major part to play in first-half tries from Darcy Graham and Emiliano Boffelli. An injury to Damien Hoyland saw Kinghorn switched to the wing and he showed his versatility by scoring a try of his own in the second period and also knocked over two conversions.

Stuart McInally scored a fourth try just as Benetton looked like they might be coming back into the game and the 24-10 victory means Edinburgh have now won four games in a row and go above Ulster who play Ospreys on Saturday. Leinster are a point clear at the top.

Edinburgh had to weather an early storm and the only damage done was the concession of a seventh minute penalty goal to Leonardo Marin.

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Matt Currie lifts an arm in celebration as Emiliano Boffelli scores Edinburgh's second try of the game. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

The home team needed a spark and it was provided by Hamish Watson. The flanker, making his first club appearance of the season, went on a surging run deep into Italian territory. The ball went through the hands of Boffelli, Dave Cherry and Ben Vellacott and when the scrum-half tried to get it back to Watson the Benetton captain Dewaldt Duvenage threw a hand at it.

It was a deliberate knock on and Duvenage was sent to the sin-bin. Edinburgh kicked to the corner and from the driving lineout maul Vellacott went down the blindside, fed Kinghorn who played in Graham for the game’s opening try. The winger, wearing his club socks, had the freedom of Hawick High Street to touch down.

Edinburgh increased their advantage with a second try eight minutes later. Kinghorn was the instigator, bursting clear from halfway and then playing in Graham with a one-handed pass.

The winger danced round a clutch of Benetton defenders before being stopped but Edinburgh were able to recycle and when the ball was played out the line to Boffelli there was acres of space for the Argentine to score.

Edinburgh's Darcy Graham scores the first try of the game against Benetton. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Graham was proving to be a thorn in Benetton’s side and showed his value at the other end of the pitch with a try-saving tackle on Michele Lamoro after a fine break from Tommaso Menoncello.

Edinburgh lost Viliame Mata and Hoyland to injury towards the end of the first half but the momentum remained with the home side after the turn. They stretched their lead when Benetton gift-wrapped them a score with some loose passing on their own line. When the ball landed between two defenders Kinghorn pounced and got just enough downward pressure to be awarded the score.

Despite the 14-point deficit Benetton continued to threaten and they got the try their play deserved when substitute flanker Manuel Zuliani burrowed his way over after a period of sustained pressure. Marin’s conversion brought the Italians to within a converted try of Edinburgh as the game entered its final quarter.

The home side’s response was impressive. Henry Pyrgos, on for Vellacott, turned the pressure back on Benetton when he chased down his own kick to the corner. Edinburgh continued to turn the screw and Stuart McInally was on the end of the drive from the lineout maul to secure the bonus point try. Kinghorn converted.

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Graham, Boffelli, Kinghorn, McInally. Cons: Kinghorn 2

Benetton: Tries: Zuliani. Con: Marin. Pen: Marin

Edinburgh: Emiliano Boffelli; Darcy Graham, Matt Currie, James Lang (Mark Bennett 70), Damien Hoyland (Charlie Savala 39); Blair Kinghorn, Ben Vellacott (Henry Pyrgos 62); Boan Venter (Pierre Schoeman 50), Dave Cherry (Stuart McInally 50), Lee-Roy Atalifo (Angus Williams 62), Jamie Hodgson (Marshall Sykes 65), Grant Gilchrist (c), Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata (Jamie Ritchie 29).

Benetton: Rhyno Smith; Ratuva Tavuyara (Edoardo Padovani 24), Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Monty Ioane; Leonardo Marin (Joaquin Riera 70), Dewaldt Duvenage (Alessandro Garbisi 70); Federico Zani (Thomas Gallo 27), Hame Faiva (Gianmarco Lucchesi 46), Tiziano Pasquali (Ivan Nemer 46), Niccolò Cannone (Carl Wegner 33), Federico Ruzza, Giovanni Pettinelli (Manuel Zuliani 46), Michele Lamaro, Toa Halafihi

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)

Attendance: 5,438