Edinburgh Rugby recorded the biggest win in their pro-team history last night as they thumped Russian minnows Krasny Yar 78-0 at BT Murrayfield.
The lopsided 12-try rout surpassed the previous record 73-14 victory which they had achieved in the away European Challenge Cup fixture to the same opponents in October and also eclipsed the highest competitive home win, which was 62-13 against Connacht in the then Magners League back in 2009.
The comfortable triumph, which was a fourth straight bonus-point win in Pool 4, effectively sealed Edinburgh’s place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, although they will now aim to make it a home tie by being one of the four best section winners.
Edinburgh assistant coach Roddy Grant said: “Probably the most pleasing thing is we didn’t concede a point. We conceded two tries when we played them over there and that was one of our focuses. It’s always pleasing to keep a clean sheet and then win by a decent margin too.”
Edinburgh’s attention will now switch to next Saturday’s 1872 Cup clash against Glasgow in which they will look to inflict a first Guinness Pro14 defeat of the season on their Scottish rivals. “The boys will be up for it and I’m sure there will be a tasty week of training,” said Grant.
On this evidence, how the painfully outclassed Siberians managed to beat competition holders Stade Francais in the opening round and run them close in Paris last weekend must go down as two of the most inexplicable results in recent rugby history.
Tries from Duhan van der Merwe (2), Chris Dean, Lewis Carmichael, Jamie Ritchie, Blair Kinghorn, Sean Kennedy, Neil Cochrane, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Junior Rasolea and Cameron Fenton ensured that Edinburgh claimed their fourth straight bonus-point win in the tournament so far and, barring the most unlikely sequence of results, they are effectively now two matches away from repeating their 2015 feat of reaching the final, which this season takes place in Bilbao in May.
Edinburgh will complete their pool programme with home and away games against Stade Francais next month.
The official attendance, which counts season ticket holders, was put at 2,773, but it was well below that. A far bigger crowd will be in attendance at the national stadium next Saturday for the first of the 1872 Cup double-header against Glasgow and the hope will now be that Edinburgh can secure a home tie in the last eight come the new year and pack out Myreside.
There was a change to the team Edinburgh had announced on Thursday with recent South African signing Jaco van der Walt, who had been the only fit specialist No.10 available to Cockerill, ruled out yesterday morning with a bug. He was replaced by Blair Kinghorn, who was promoted from the bench to take up his schoolboy position of stand-off, with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne filling the vacant spot among the replacements.
Edinburgh were 35-0 up within 20 minutes in what was an embarrassingly one-sided contest, which was not helped by the sin-binning of visiting openside Victor Arhip. Wing Van der Merwe crossed within the first minute of his home debut and the procession continued from there with scores from Dean, Carmichael, Ritchie and Kinghorn, who converted all five of the tries.
The second quarter saw two further touchdowns as Kennedy and Cochrane ghosted through the paper thin Siberian defence, with Kinghorn losing his perfect kicking record when he pulled his attempted conversion of the latter’s score wide.
The festive turkey shoot continued after the break as Graham pounced on a kick through down the right touchline, though Kinghorn missed the testing conversion from out wide.
It was Kinghorn’s last contribution of the night as he was replaced by international scrum-half Hidalgo-Clyne, who slotted in at stand-off.
The game fell into an inevitable lull as, to their credit, the Russians continued to battle gamely but Edinburgh broke through again just before the hour mark when Hoyland was first to Hidalgo-Clyne’s teasing kick to touch down in the right corner but the sub stand-off couldn’t add the conversion to his assist.
Rasolea became the tenth separate tryscorer on the night as he burst through from close range and Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion took the score to 64-0 and surpassed the club’s previous biggest winning margin when they beat the same side 74-13 in Moscow three months ago.
Cameron Fenton’s try and another Hidalgo-Clyne conversion had the scoreboard ticking over 70 points soon after.
The record points total soon followed as Van der Merwe cruised over for his second of the evening and Hidalgo-Clyne knocked over the extras to put the seal on an emphatic and professional dismantling of severely limited opponents.
Edinburgh won’t have an easier game all season and next weekend’s visit of Glasgow will be a completely different kettle of fish but an eighth win out of the last nine matches, and a remarkable 175 points plundered in December alone after putting on 48 against Southern Kings at the start of the month and 50 against London Irish, has given Cockerill’s men a spring in their step which suggests a fascinating inter-city showdown lies in store.
Scorers: Tries: Van Der Merwe 2, Dean, Carmichael, Ritchie, Kinghorn
Kennedy, Cochrane, Graham, Hoyland, Rasolea, Fenton. Cons: Kinghorn 6, Hidalgo-Clyne 3
Krasny Yar (0) 0
Edinburgh Rugby: Graham, Hoyland, Johnson, Dean, Van Der Merwe, Van Der Walt, Kinghorn, Kennedy, Sutherland, Cochrane, McCallum, McKenzie, Carmichael, Bradbury, Du Preez. Replacements: Rasolea for Johnson (41), Hidalgo-Clyne for Kinghorn (45), Fenton for Cochrane (41), Shields for McCallum (59), Crosbie for Du Preez (41). Not Used: Ritchie, K. Bryce, Mata, Fowles
Krasny Yar: Artemyev, Latu, Pruidze, Golonitskii, Kolomiitcev, Malaguradze, Dorofeev, Khudiakov, Fukofuka, Bitiev, Mahu, Garbuzov, Gresev, Arhip, Prepelitse, Kondakov. Replacements: Galinovskiy for Golonitskii (51), Ryabov for Dorofeev (64), Kondakov for Khudiakov (73), G. Tsnobiladze for Fukofuka (62), Tsiklauri for Bitiev (62), Khudiakov for Arhip (41), V Tsnobiladze for Kondakov (54). Not Used: Zykov, Apikotoa. Sin Bin: Arhip (16), V Tsnobiladze (69)
Ref: David Wilkinson (Ireland)