Road win secures European knockouts
Edinburgh Rugby romped into the EPCR Challenge Cup last 16, scoring five tries to secure a 19-31 victory against Scarlets in Llanelli.
The capital side led 5-26 at the break after dominant opening 40 minutes, but finished with 13 players with Grant Gilchrist shown a second yellow and Duhan van der Merwe sent to the bin in the final stages of the one-sided encounter.
British and Irish Lions duo Van der Merwe and Hamish Watson were among the visiting try scorers.
Joe Roberts and Ryan Conbeer scored in either half for Scarlets, who were awarded a penalty try at the death.
Edinburgh went into the game in need of a bonus-point win and they got off to the perfect start, with co-captain Ben Vellacott – on his 50th appearance – crashing over on their first visit to the Scarlets 22.
The visitors doubled their lead just a few minutes later, WP Nel also over from close range as Scarlets looked shell-shocked.
Steff Evans brought a much needed spark to the cold Llanelli air when he tore down his opposite wing and put in a grubber kick for Kieran Hardy to chase. The bounce favoured the Wales scrum-half, but he was brought down inches short of the line.
Referee Sara Cox showed a yellow card to David Cherry for illegally slowing play down as Scarlets looked to recycle.
Scarlets were able to build from the resulting penalty and Roberts was put in when a gap opened up out wide.
But even a man down, Edinburgh continued to show their threat, the returning Van de Merwe finishing off after a superb high ball take and run from Argentine internationalist Emiliano Boffelli.
Watson added salt to the wounds moments later, wrestling his way over the line to bag the bonus-point just after the half hour mark.
But Edinburgh’s discipline once again came under the spotlight, with Gilchrist sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Dan Davis just before the break.
Scarlets lock Alex Craig joined him on sideline soon after the break by being yellow carded for a similar high tackle. Edinburgh kicked to touch and after a series of powerful carries Pierre Schoeman touched down.
Peel emptied the Scarlets bench early in search of inspiration as the crowd and atmosphere fell flat, but a Tomi Lewis run down his wing was the only thing for the home fans to cheer before a dramatic final few minutes.
Gilchrist was sent off after a second yellow card for another high tackle on Lewis, which saw Scarlets finish with a flurry.
Conbeer ran in a great try down his wing and Cox awarded a penalty try when Van der Merwe was judged to have deliberately knocked on in the final play.
With Van der Merwe in the bin, Edinburgh finished the game with 13 men while Scarlets made the score that bit more respectable.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We came here to do a job and to get five points and there was also a bit of pride at stake as well after what happened here last year.
“We did chat about that during the week and for us it was about being resilient and sticking to our plan and obviously trying to outwork Scarlets. I thought we did that really well in the first half.
“Discipline was good in the first half, only conceding four penalties, and they got a bit loose in the second half where we conceded seven and we made life difficult for ourselves.”