Edinburgh beat Saracens in European thriller
Edinburgh Rugby held on for a famous 20-14 victory over Saracens in a gripping Heineken Champions Cup Round 4 contest at the DAM Health Stadium on Sunday, but the English side secured home advantage in the Round of 16 thanks to their losing bonus point.
Both sides had the chance to book a home Round of 16 tie ahead of kick off, but it was Saracens who clinched the last all-important top-four place in Pool A thanks to finishing the game within seven points.
Edinburgh now face a trip to Leicester Tigers in the Round of 16 in just over two months’ time, while Saracens will host Ospreys.
David Cherry and Pierre Schoeman both crossed for Edinburgh, with Blair Kinghorn putting up 10 points from the tee.
Saracens’ solitary score came courtesy of Ben Earl while Alex Goode kicked three penalties. The visitors were hampered by ill-discipline, receiving three yellow cards over the course of the evening.
Edinburgh made a fast start and hooker Cherry crashed over on three minutes to give them a deserved lead.
Fly-half Kinghorn converted before nudging three-pointer moments later, though Saracens counterpart Goode got the visitors on the board following a scrum penalty on 16 minutes.
Saracens then saw hooker Jamie George and prop Marco Riccioni yellow-carded in quick succession, but despite being down to 13 men, they remarkably survived wave after wave of Edinburgh attacks.
After George returned, Saracens escaped their own 22 and another scrum penalty allowed Goode to reduce the deficit further.
Saracens ended the half back at their full complement, and although Edinburgh were on the front foot once again, they couldn’t notch any further points and took a 10-6 lead into the break.
Kinghorn and Goode exchanged penalties early in the second half, and as the tempo of the game went up a notch, Saracens received their third yellow card, lock Maro Itjoe heading off on 59 minutes for a cynical offside.
Edinburgh capitalised on their extra man immediately this time, prop Schoeman burrowing over amid a rolling maul. Kinghorn converted but couldn’t extend his side’s lead moments later as his penalty held up in the wind and dropped short.
It was then Edinburgh who were down to 14 men as lock Sam Skinner was sin-binned for illegally bringing down a Saracens maul.
Edinburgh survived the immediate assault on their line, but a flowing Saracens move eventually put flanker Earl over in the corner.
Goode couldn’t add the extras but, crucially, Saracens would be close enough to take a losing bonus point and clinch fourth in Pool A, ahead of Edinburgh only on tries scored.