Blair Kinghorn stakes claim for Scotland as ruthless Edinburgh smash Connacht
Blair Kinghorn staked his claim for a starting place in Scotland’s Six Nations match in Italy by piloting Edinburgh to a 56-8 victory over Connacht.
The stand-off’s performance was full of energy and verve as the home side returned to winning ways after three successive defeats on the road.
After a sticky start, Edinburgh found their flow, scoring eight tries to maintain their unbeaten record in competitive games at the DAM Health Stadium.
It was their biggest win in the United Rugby Championship this season and means Edinburgh have now scored 122 points in their last two home games.
Henry Immelman, the man of the match, weighed in with a try double and there were single scores for Emiliano Boffelli, Dave Cherry, Kinghorn, Ramiro Moyano, Glen Young and Ben Vellacott. Boffelli was immaculate off the tee, converting eight from eight.
Edinburgh were left short-handed when Mesu Kunavula was sin-binned after eight minutes, the No 8’s trailing arm catching Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade.
Jack Carty kicked Connacht ahead with the first points of the match but it was the only points Edinburgh conceded with Kunavula off the field. However, Connacht marked the Fijian’s return by scoring the game’s opening try after a period of sustained pressure.
Having kicked a penalty to the corner, the visitors built the phases. Hooker Dave Heffernan’s pass went to ground but Peter Sullivan was able to gather, cut back inside and get over the line despite the efforts of James Lang.
It had been a sleepy start by Mike Blair’s side but this was the wake-up call and Edinburgh plundered three tries in 15 minutes to turn the match on its head.
Boffelli notched the first but it was created by Kinghorn. Blair had described his stand-off as having “world class potential” in the build-up to the match and the converted back three man showed good skills to jink past two men before playing in Boffelli to score in the corner.
Edinburgh had their tails up and scored another three minutes later. Kinghorn was involved again, shipping the ball to Chris Dean who drew his man before releasing Immelman who ran in under the posts.
The forwards then got in on the act just before half-time with Dave Cherry marking his 50th Edinburgh appearance by putting the finishing touches on a lineout drive. Boffelli made it three from three with the conversion.
The home side increased their lead immediately after the restart and Kinghorn was both creator and finisher. He played a flat pass to Ben Muncaster who made good yards before returning the favour to Kinghorn who ran unfettered to the line, with Boffelli on target once more.
Ben Vellacott replaced Henry Pyrgos shortly after and the scrum-half started the move which led to try No 5. Dean showed lovely hands to pass to Kinghorn who popped it up to Moyano for the score. Dean was also involved in the sixth try, playing a long, looping pass to Immelman who sprinted into the corner.
It was becoming a rout and Glen Young added to Connacht’s misery with a try from close range. Vellacott finished things off with the eighth and final try of the evening, sprinting clear after good work, again, by Dean.