Delighted Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley hailed his side’s clinical finishing after they dismantled basement side Aironi with a seven-try romp in last night’s RaboDirect Pro 12 encounter at windswept Murrayfield.
Reflecting on a result that never looked in doubt, Bradley, said “You can’t take away from that scoreline. We got our first phase right and with the talent we have from 1-15 we were able to create gaps and then we just finished off our chances well.”
The hosts resumed where they had left off in their last home encounter – the Heineken Cup epic against Racing Metro – with a scintillating show of pace and clinical finishing. However, their task was made easier by an Aironi side that posed questions of the home defence, but were cruelly exposed at the back by the free-scoring hosts.
With six minutes on the clock, Edinburgh earned a penalty 45 metres out. Greig Laidlaw’s attempt was held up in the wind but Sinoti Sinoti spilled the ball and was engulfed by Edinburgh attackers. A slick move found Dave Denton powering into the line and his momentum carried him over for the opening try.
Laidlaw converted and did so again – this time via the post – after Nick De Luca had carved through the Aironi defence before offloading to Tim Visser, The flying winger completed the job, then made it a double three minutes later when the defence parted in front of him and he gleefully darted through the gap, with Laidlaw again adding the extras.
Aironi had offered occasional glimpses of their pace behind the scrum and it took a last-ditch tackle by Laidlaw on his opposite number Tito Tebaldi to keep the home try line intact. However, the score was delayed by just seconds and it came courtesy of a rare error by the otherwise outstanding Laidlaw. His clearance kick was charged down by George Biagi, who plunged on the ball for a five-pointer.
However, the momentum swung back in favour of the hosts when Tebaldi cynically killed the ball at a ruck in the shadow of his posts and handed Laidlaw a simple three points.
The four-try bonus point came in 32 minutes when De Luca raced over from 30 metres without a finger being laid on him. Laidlaw’s conversion completed the first-half scoring.
A better organised Aironi defence offered greater resistance after the restart, although Giulio Tionolatti could consider himself fortunate to have escaped unpunished after a cheap shot on Chris Paterson which was witnessed by the Irish referee.
However, normal service was resumed in 52 minutes when teenage stand-off Harry Leonard created the scoring opportunity for Visser to complete his hat-trick. The youngster, who had started shakily with some early errors, grew steadily into the playmaker role with some aplomb.
His composure shone through when he received the ball 30 metres from the opposition line and weighed up his options before despatching a perfect chip for Visser, who gathered and sprinted in. Laidlaw’s final involvement was to slot the conversion. The skipper’s replacement Chris Leck wasted little time in making an impression, whipping out a long pass to Phil Godman who delivered an exquisite cross kick into the arms of Lee Jones and he dotted down for Edinburgh’s sixth try.
Visser was hungry for more and when he was foiled by a last-ditch tackle, Leck was on hand to cross the whitewash.
Toniolatti saw the yellow card he should have had earlier after killing the ball, but the visitors did manage to have the last word when Filipo Ferrarini forced his way over from close range to cap a spell of pressure by the Italians.
That, however, failed to take the gloss from a sparkling Edinburgh performance that sets Bradley’s men up nicely for the resumption of Heineken Cup action next weekend.
Scorers: Edinburgh Rugby: Tries: Denton, Visser (3), De Luca, Jones, Leck. Cons: Laidlaw (5), Godman. Pen: Laidlaw. Aironi: Tries: Biagi, Ferrarini
Edinburgh Rugby: C Paterson, L Jones, N De Luca (Houston 43), J King (P Godman 53), T Visser, H Leonard, G Laidlaw (C Leck 56) A Jacobsen (K Traynor 56), R Ford (S Lawrie 56) G Cross (L Niven 56), G Gilchrist (N Talei 64), E Lozada, S Cox, R Grant, D Denton
Aironi: R Trevisan (G Toniolatti 37), S Sinoti, M Pratichetti, G Pizarro, G Venditti (G Pavan 40), N Olivier (T Keats 72), T Tebaldi, A De Marchi (L Romano 66), R Santamaria (T D’Apice 40), F Staibano (L Romano 43), Q Geldenhuys, G Biagi (M Bortolami 64), N Cattina (F Viljoen 64), F Ferrarini, J Sole
Referee: J Lacey (IRFU)