Challenge Cup semi-final: Edinburgh 45-16 Dragons

Tim Visser scored a first-half try for Edinburgh
Tim Visser scored a first-half try for a dominant Edinburgh
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Edinburgh (21) 45
Tries: McInally, Visser, Tovey, Hidalgo-Clyne, Fife Con: Hidalgo-Clyne 4 Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne 4
Dragons (9) 16
Tries: Harris Con: Jones Pen: Jones 3

Edinburgh booked their place in the Challenge Cup final with a one-sided victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.

With the visitors penned into their own half, Stuart McInally and Tim Visser ran in first-half scores as Edinburgh reached the interval 21-9 ahead.

Brok Harris plunged over to reduce the deficit but the second of three yellow cards proved costly for Dragons.

With the momentum firmly back with the hosts, Ben Toolis, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Dougie Fife all added tries.

Edinburgh will contest their first European final in London on 1 May against either Gloucester or Exeter, with the English Premiership rivals meeting at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Dorian Jones opened the scoring for the Dragons with a well-struck scrum penalty but Alan Solomons' side replied with typical brawn, the pack mauling their way into the 22, eschewing a kickable penalty for another crack at the line, and as they trundled towards the whitewash, Toby Faletau dragged it all to ground.

The British and Irish Lion was sin-binned, the Welsh side perhaps lucky to avoid further penalty, as Hidalgo-Clyne kicked the first of his 25 points.

Edinburgh continued to flex their muscles and were rewarded when McInally bulldozed through two limp challenges to score, Hidalgo-Clyne converting.

Stuart McInally scores the first try of the evening
Stuart McInally scores the first try of the evening at Murrayfield

In home ranks, this was just Phil Burleigh's third match at stand-off this season, but the New Zealander instilled composure and accuracy in his backline with a fine array of deft chip-kicks and touch-finders.

He was penalised for handling on the ground after wrapping up opposite number Jones, however, with his rival slotting his second three-pointer.

Hidalgo-Clyne's awareness and sumptuous backhand offload down the blindside sent Visser speeding in for Edinburgh's second try after punishing carries again laid the platform, his conversion striking the upright this time.

Jason Tovey intercepted Fife's wayward pass as the hosts threatened anew, his kick ahead yielding a penalty for Jones, cancelled out minutes later by Hidalgo-Clyne.

Edinburgh put the squeeze on up-front once more with the clock red, a scrum penalty providing three more points for Hidalgo-Clyne and a healthy half-time lead.

The Dragons gave the hosts a taste of their own medicine after the break as prop Harris plunged over from a rolling maul, Jones converting.

Hidalgo-Clyne pushed a long-range penalty wide before Burleigh and Visser combined down the left touchline to bring the former within a metre of scoring.

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne turned in another impressive display for Edinburgh
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne turned in another impressive display for Edinburgh

The pressure brought a yellow card for Jonathan Evans, and though Edinburgh botched the resultant scrummage, the giant figure of Toolis charged down Tovey and bounded after the loose ball, pouncing on the ball just before it rolled dead.

Hidalgo-Clyne converted, added a penalty and, after Edinburgh dismantled the Dragons' scrum again, showed remarkable pace to sprint under the posts, and convert his own try.

Fife added a fifth score for the hosts from an incisive counter-attack, starting when Roddy Grant ripped the ball from Rhys Thomas, and ending with the winger taking Sam Beard's pass to dot down in the corner.

Hidalgo-Clyne converted once more, and veteran Thomas' ignominy was complete when he was binned for a deliberate knock-on.

Edinburgh: Jack Cuthbert, Dougie Fife, Sam Beard, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser, Phil Burleigh, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Anton Bresler, Ben Toolis, Stuart McInally, Roddy Grant, Mike Coman (capt).

Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Rory Sutherland, John Andress, Fraser McKenzie, Cornell Du Preez, Nathan Fowles, Tom Heatcote, Tom Brown.

Dragons: Jason Tovey; Tom Prydie, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos; Dorian Jones, Jonathan Evans; Brok Harris, T. Rhys Thomas (capt), Dan Way, James Thomas, Cory Hill, Nick Crosswell, James Benjamin, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Phil Price, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Ian Gough, Luc Jones, Ashton Hewitt, Geraint Rhys Jones.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

Touch judges: Luke Pearce (England), Marius Mitrea (Italy)

TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

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