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Edinburgh reach Challenge Cup final

Published 17/04/2015

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was among the points as Edinburgh saw off Newport Gwent Dragons
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was among the points as Edinburgh saw off Newport Gwent Dragons

Edinburgh advanced to their first European final when they produced a dominant performance to beat Newport Gwent Dragons 45-16 in the European Challenge Cup on Friday night.

The Scottish side, who will now face either Gloucester or Exeter in the Twickenham Stoop final on May 1, had tries from Stuart McInally, Tim Visser, Ben Toolis, Sam Beard and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who also kicked 20 points.

Dragons started strongly but wilted in the face of sustained Edinburgh pressure, with Brok Harris offering some hope with a try early in the second half. They had to rely on the boot of Dorian Jones for their remaining points.

A late change to the Dragons line-up saw James Benjamin step up from the bench in place of Nic Cudd.

And the youngster, a double try scorer in the win over Leinster the previous weekend, was prominent as the visitors raced from the blocks, edging into the lead after three minutes with a penalty from Jones following a scrum offence.

Edinburgh responded with an extended spell of pressure.

After two penalties were dispatched into touch, Toby Faletau offended just short of the line and was sent to the sin bin before Hidalgo-Clyne booted the resultant kick to restore parity.

The hosts almost added to their tally when Sam Beard pounced on a spilled pass and broke from deep, but Edinburgh conceded a penalty at the breakdown and Dragons were able to relieve the pressure.

The respite was brief and Edinburgh earned their reward when McInally powered through weak tackling by the Dragons centres to dot down - Hidalgo-Clyne adding the extras.

Against the run of play, Jones clawed back three points with his second penalty but the pattern was soon resumed and Hidalgo-Clyne darted into the danger zone.

Then, after the recycled ball was moved wide, he freed Visser with a delightful flip and the winger sprinted over for an unconverted score.

With half an hour played, Jones boosted the Dragons' tally with his third penalty of the night.

However, Edinburgh ended the half strongly and two further scores by Hidalgo-Clyne sent the hosts in at the break with a 21-9 lead.

Dragons quickly made inroads into the deficit when their first attack of the second half created the platform for Harris to crash over. Jones added the conversion to haul his side back to within five points.

As the hosts battled to regain supremacy, Phil Burleigh was halted just short of the line.

Scrum half Jonathan Evans was, however, deemed to have killed the ball and earned 10 minutes in the sin bin - and his absence was to prove expensive.

The Scottish outfit extended the gap when Toolis charged down an attempted clearance by Jason Tovey and won the race to the line.

Hidalgo-Clyne stroked over the conversion to and he widened the gap to more than two converted scores with another penalty in 58 minutes.

And, with Evans still serving time, Hidalgo-Clyne profited from the absence of his opposite number to pick up at the back of a scrum and dart over for a try which he also converted.

He added the extra two points after a searing break by Beard carved open the Dragons' defence before he freed Fife for try number five.

And the misery was complete for the visitors when skipper Rhys Thomas ended the game on the sidelines after becoming the third Welshman to be shown a yellow card.

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