SAM HIDALGO-CLYNE celebrated his call up to the Scotland squad by dominating the scoresheet as Edinburgh Rugby cruised into the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup with a 38-20 victory over Bordeaux-Begles at BT Murrayfield tonight.
The scrum half claimed 28 points, including two tries, as Edinburgh took the game by the scruff of the neck up front, then showed some clinical finishing to put matters out of reach.
It was the biggest certainty of the season that Hidalgo-Clyne would claim man-of-the-match honours and the judges duly delivered.
All three second-half tries, by Hidalgo-Clyne, Matt Scott and WP Nel were referred to the video ref but there was no doubting home superiority although the victors must now wait until later this weekend to learn whether they are among the top four qualifiers guaranteeing a home quarter-final.
Not every Edinburgh pass went to hand but their support play and particularly their kick chase left them streets ahead of rivals made to look mediocre.
It took Edinburgh just over six minutes of non-stop attack to grab the lead.
Visiting captain and full-back Serin dropped a simple catch on his “22” and, when Edinburgh disrupted the subsequent scrum, a penalty saw Hidalgo-Clyne open the scoring. Such was Edinburgh’s set-piece supremacy that the first three scrums yielded them two penalties and it was no surprise that Serin was quickly tested again under the high ball. Pressure surely had to tell and it looked as though Edinburgh would break through when Dougie Fife charged into space and found Dave Denton whose pass, alas, eluded the overlapping Hidalgo-Clyne.
Ground was conceded when the next Capital scrum engaged early, conceding a penalty inside the Bordeaux Begles “22”. Less than a quarter of the match had elapsed, though, and the visitors were already warming up a replacement prop, who arrived on the pitch just after the opening quarter.
His arrival always looked a matter of time as Edinburgh drove the French pack upfield and a penalty punted into the corner should have provided a platform only for a line-out penalty concession to push the hosts back.
Intent on taking something from a rare visit to the Edinburgh half, Beauxis fired a long-range drop goal attempt wide. However, Beauxis was soon atoning with a 44 metre offside penalty to level after 24 minutes. On the restart, No.8 Tuifua exposed weak Edinburgh but the surge was to act as a wake-up call
Driving an attacking line-out gained by Nick McLennan’s boot, Edinburgh established a ruck which saw Hidalgo-Clyne score round the blindside.
The same player’s conversion failed.
Around the time of Edinburgh’s try, opposition prop Kodela was replaced by experienced internationalist, Jean-Baptise Poux, but the switch appeared to make no difference as the lead was extended by Hidalgo Clyne’s penalty following another scrum infringement.
The good work was immediately undone by Anton Bresler going offside, allowing Beauxis to goal but side entry to a ruck allowed Hidalgo-Clyne to restore gap from the edge of his range.
Another elementary handling error, this time by Tuifua, gifted Edinburgh momentum approaching the interval and the knot of around 40 visiting fans in a corner of the cavernous stadium had gone ominously quiet.
Their reticence was justified as Denton broke powerfully of a scrum and the defence closed just in time.
On the stroke of half-time, Hidalgo-Clyne attemped another long-range penalty but the effort was speculative and fell under the bar.
The second half started as the first had ended with Hidalgo-Clyne lining up a penalty and this time the ball sailed through the uprights.
Looking to kill the game off, Edinburgh turned over possession and Fife hoofed upfield only for a penalty to cost ground inside the Bordeaux -Begles “22”.
Edinburgh’s follow up tackling and harrassment had been key and Phil Burleigh led the way upfield before Ally Dickinson burst from a ruck and caused the ref to go upstairs to the video official when the supporting Matt Scott appealed for a try.
It was the 51st-minute breakthrough Edinburgh needed in pursuit of a bonus point and Hidalgo-Clyne slotted the easy conversion.
In fact, it was Bordeaux-Begles who struck next when substitute Bernard threaded a kick through to in-goal and Baptiste Serin won the race for the touchdown. Bernard converted.
As the play began to break up. Edinburgh went to the other end, Visser was tackled just short and the ball broke to Willem Nel who plunged over.
Hidalgo-Clyne converted and when the next kickable chance came along. Edinburgh understandable went for the corner with the aim of the fourth try and a bonus point.
They were not to be disappointed and it was that man Hidalgo-Clyne who forced his way over from close range then added the angled conversion.
Bordeaux Begles notches a late converted try by substitute Pierre Bernard, again from a kick through and he added the conversion but it did nothing to take the gloss of a stunning Edinburgh display.
Edinburgh: Tries: Hidalgo-Clyne (2), Scott, Nel. Conversions: Hidalgo-Clyne (3). Penalties: Hidalgo-Clyne (4).
Bordeaux Begles: Tries: Serin, Bernard. Conversions: Bernard (2). Penalties: Beauxis (2)
Edinburgh: McLennan, Fife, Scott (Strauss, 57), Burleigh, Visser, Tonks (Te Rure, 54), Hidalgo-Clyne (Kennedy, 71), Dickinson (Sutherland, 71) Ford (Cochrane), Nel, Bresler, Toolis (McKenzie, 61), Coman (c), Denton (Grant, 54), Watson. Sub not used: Andress.
Bordeaux Begles: Serin (c), Aumua, Brousse, Lacroix, Riva, Beauxis (Bernard, 52), Adams (Lesgourgues, 57), Poirot (Taofifenua, 40), Auzqui (Avei, 53) Kodela (Poux, 26), Devedec, Marais, Guiry, Tuifua (Graham, 58), Chalmers (Clarkin, 53). Sub not used: Toetu.
Referee: I Davies (Wales).