Edinburgh Rugby kept in touch with the all-important top-six group who annually contest the primary European competition with a 48-0 Guinness Pro 12 win over Treviso which suddenly turned ugly at BT Murrayfield.
Edinburgh had just seen Grayson Hart add to earlier tries from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Mike Coman and Willem Nel when substitute Treviso prop Romulo Acosta began swinging punches at Fraser McKenzie near the touchline.
Players on both sides joined in as the fighting spread into the crowd and it took Irish ref David Wilkinson a minute to restore order before red casrding Acosta and giving a yellow to Hart, who had ushered an opponent across the touchline and into a barrier.
Taking advantage of their extra man, Edinburgh added late tries by Roddy Grant and David Denton for what was the biggest win in coach’s Alan Solomons time in charge, surpassing the 43-10 defeat inflicted on Connacht last season.
What’s more, it was the second successive match in which Edinburgh had kept their try-line intact in coming into form ahead of the first leg of the annual 1872 Cup at Glasgow next Saturday.
Edinburgh, who lost Anton Bresler before kick-off with an ear infection to be replaced by McKenzie, with Ollie Atkins coming on to the bench required just 45 seconds to hit the front.
Jack Cuthbert gathered a clearance on the Treviso 10-metre line and exchanged passes with Greg Tonks before releasing Sam Hidalgo-Clyne on a short dash to the line.
It was Hidalgo-Clyne’s first try for Edinburgh and the scrum half celebrated by adding conversion points from wide out.
With Treviso subdued, Edinburgh could have extended their lead in 10 minutes when a powerful defensive scrum followed by a driving maul, leading to a 40 metre penalty, but Hidalgo-Clyne fired wide.
Five minutes later, from a similar range and angle on the opposite side of the posts, Hidalgo-Clyne made no mistake and at 10-0 Edinburgh were firmly in the driving seat.
In contrast with their apparent policy all season, Edinburgh were cultivating plenty of width and pace, but a lost line-out five metres out wasted enterprising build-up play.
Amends were made almost instantly when, on the opposite flank, Edinburgh won a line-out and drove skipper Coman over. Hidalgo-Clyne converted.
Adventurous Edinburgh were flowing in the backs and swarming in the forwards with Treviso constantly on the back foot.
It wasn’t entirely flawless, though, and prop John Andress incurred the wrath of the Edinburgh coaching box when he kicked away turned over possession ripe for running.
Further powerful scrummaging relieved pressure on the Edinburgh line entering the second half and they gradually worked their way upfield to end a 25 minute barren spell with a further Hidalgo-Clyne penalty.
At 20-0 ahead Edinburgh could afford to eschew a penalty kick at goal in deference to chasing tries for a bonus point, especially with Treviso’s Francesco Minto heading for the sin-bin following a technical offence, but in punting kickable effort into the corner a misfiring line-out cost ground quickly retrieved by a rare burst by Tim Visser charing up the touchline.
Momentum maintained, Edinburgh finally added a third try when prop Willem Nel exhibited perfect body angle in burrowing over for a try within minutes of coming on as a sub.
It was Nel’s second try in three matches and Hidalgo-Clyne provided the extras.
Hart was on the field an even shorter time when he exchanged passes with Visser to romp in and provide only the second try bonus point of the season for Edinburgh, sub Tom Heathcote converting for 34-0.
Treviso had no intention of going quietly and a series of cheap shots by Acosta on to the head of McKenzie saw violence explode and for a few moments spill over into the crowd near the tunnel.
After several minutes, ref Wilkinson acted decisively with a red card for Acosta and a yellow for Hart, who had piled into his colleague’s assistance.
Piling on the pressure though were Edinburgh, particularly well served by Ben Toolis and Neil Cochrane, adding further tries through Roddy Grant, voted man-of-the-match, and David Denton.
Edinburgh: Tries – Hidalgo-Clyne, Coman, Hart, Grant, Denton. Conversions – Hidalgo-Clyne (3), Heathcote (3). Penalties – Hidalgo-Clyne (2)
Edinburgh: Cuthbert, Fife, Beard, Strauss (Dominguez, 40), Visser, Tonks (Heathcote, 61), Hidalgo-Clyne (Hart, 61), Dickinson (Shiells, 64), Cochrane (Hilterbrand, 61), Andress (Nel, 56), McKenzie, B Toolis, Coman, captain (McInally, 64), Denton, Grant. Unused subs: Shiells, Atkins.
Treviso: Howard, Regusi, Morisi (Baccin, 52), Nitoglia, Carlisle, Luccchese (Ambrosini, 43), Zanusso (Anae, 52), Giazzon, Muccignat (Acosta, 38 - 45), Vallejos, Van Zyl, captain, (Fuser, 72), Favaro, Budd, Minto. Unused subs: Novak, Luamanu, Trevisan, Ambrosini.
Referee: D Wilkinson (Ireland).