Pro14: Edinburgh 52-14 Scarlets

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland at Murrayfield
Guinness Pro14: Edinburgh v Scarlets
Edinburgh: (26) 52
Tries: Kinghorn, Van der Merwe (2), Hidalgo-Clyne, Bradbury, Crosbie, Bennett, Fowles Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne (5), Weir
Scarlets: (14) 14
Tries: Varndell, D Jones Cons: D Jones 2

Edinburgh moved closer to a first-ever Pro14 play-off with their biggest league win of the season over Scarlets.

Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Magnus Bradbury crossed to earn the hosts a bonus point inside 24 minutes.

Scarlets struck back before the break through Tom Varndell and Dan Jones.

But Van der Merwe claimed his second, then Luke Crosbie, Mark Bennett, Nathan Fowles scored as Edinburgh strengthened their grip on third place.

Richard Cockerill's side now sit nine points clear of fourth-placed Ulster, who have a game in hand, and a point behind Scarlets in Conference B. The province must earn maximum points from their final two fixtures, and hope Edinburgh take nothing from their end-of-season derby against Glasgow, to reach the league's knockout stages.

Edinburgh's Blair Kinghorn scores against Scarlets
Blair Kinghorn opened the scoring for Edinburgh despite a forward pass by James Johnstone during the build up

With a seismic Champions Cup semi-final trip to Leinster next weekend, Wayne Pivac opted to rest his big-hitters and international stars, making 13 changes from Scarlets' win over Glasgow.

Given the extent of the overhaul, it was little surprise the region were stupefied by the intensity and speed of Edinburgh's early play.

Under Cockerill, the Scots are geared towards brawn first. Their heavy artillery, Stuart McInally and Cornell du Preez, bullied Scarlets in the collisions, but Edinburgh showed they have the guile to augment their grunt.

They weaved some lovely attacking rugby in the opening half, with the big-striding Kinghorn the fulcrum, and each of an all-new midfield trio contributing to three of their four tries.

In the seventh minute, James Johnstone sent Kinghorn coasting over, following a fearsome charge by Jamie Ritchie. The final pass from Johnstone was forward, but the officials either failed to spy it, or did not review it before Hidalgo-Clyne struck a hurried conversion wide.

Edinburgh's Duran van der Merwe scores against Scarlets
Edinburgh's Duran van der Merwe scored a try in each half at Murrayfield

Van der Merwe palmed Varndell aside with embarrassing ease two minutes later and galloped away to score the second try.

Bradbury's thunderous hit on a Scarlets carrier then forced the ball loose in midfield, the back-row scooped it up, fed Jaco van der Valt who dummied, and sent the effervescent Hidalgo-Clyne scampering home from 40 yards.

Incredibly, Edinburgh had a bonus point in the bag after 24 minutes. Chris Dean feinted and slalomed to within five metres of the whitewash, before releasing Bradbury to stroll in.

Hidalgo-Clyne converted three of Edinburgh's quadruple-whammy of tries, a flurry of blows that left the league champions staggering, and trailing 26-0.

The visitors were reeling, but did not wilt. Varndell, the English Premiership's record try-scorer, earned a measure of redemption by burning Dougie Fife and Kinghorn to get Scarlets off the mark.

Edinburgh's Nathan Fowles scores against Scarlets
Nathan Fowles completed the try scoring for Edinburgh following a short line-out

Dan Jones converted, then added seven more points after delightful handling from flanker Josh MacLeod, reducing the deficit to 12 points at the interval.

Those Scarlets counter-punches, and the sight of Kinghorn limping off, meant the half ended on a sour note for Edinburgh, but the angst was short-lived.

Five minutes into the second 40, they scored a glorious fifth try. Hidalgo-Clyne seared into the Scarlets half, drew the cover defence, and with the giant Van der Merwe steaming down the left flank, delivered a beautiful grubber kick that sat up perfectly for the winger to gather and score his second.

Edinburgh carved out another sumptuous try three minutes later, replacement Bennett scything through a huge gap in the Scarlets midfield, flipping the ball inside to Du Preez, who collected one-handed and put Crosbie in.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill
Head coach Richard Cockerill are on the verge of reaching their first ever Pro14 play-off

Hidalgo-Clyne, revelling in the fizz and tempo of the home attack, converted both tries.

And despite Scarlets spending long periods inside Edinburgh's 22, it was the hosts who rounded off their victory in style.

Bennett powerfully finished Duncan Weir's jinking break, then Nathan Fowles scurried over from a short line-out.

In the end, this was neither a true reflection of Scarlets' title-retaining credentials, nor a proclamation of Edinburgh's arrival as European heavyweights.

The region have bigger fish to try next weekend - and beyond - but Cockerill's fine rejuvenation of the stuttering Edinburgh is on the verge of delivering knockout rugby to Scotland's capital for the first time.

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn, D Fife, J Johnstone, C Dean, D van der Merwe, J van der Walt, S Hidalgo-Clyne; J Lay, S McInally (capt), S Berghan, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, J Ritchie, C du Preez.

Replacements: Crosbie, (for Ritchie, 38), Bennett (for Kinghorn, 40), Dell (for Lay, 49) McCallum (for Berghan, 54), Fowles (for Hidalgo-Clyne, 60), Carmichael (for Gilchrist, 60), Cochrane (for McInally, 62), Weir (for Van der Walt, 62).

Scarlets: Rhys Jones; Tom Varndell, Ioan Nicholas, Steff Hughes (capt), Ryan Conbeer; Dan Jones, Aled Davies; Dylan Evans, Ryan Elias, Werner Kruger, Steve Cummins, David Bulbring, Lewis Rawlins, Josh Macleod, Will Boyde.

Replacements: Helps (for Cummins, 18), Baldwin (for Conbeer, 40), Price (for D Evans, 51), Gardiner (for Kruger, 60), J Evans (for A Davies, 60), Rogers (for R Jones, 60), S Evans (for MacLeod, 60), T Davies (for Rawlins, 65).

Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU)

Assistant referees: David Sutherland (SRU), Dunx McClement (SRU)

TMO: Charles Samson (SRU)