European Challenge Cup: Edinburgh 23-0 Agen

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland at Murrayfield
Edinburgh's Magnus Bradbury (8) celebrates his try with his team-mates
Edinburgh's Magnus Bradbury (8) celebrates his try with his team-mates
European Challenge Cup Pool 5
Edinburgh: (8) 23
Tries: Bradbury, Coman, Tonks, Watson. Pen: Tonks
Agen: (0) 0

Edinburgh scored three tries in the final quarter to secure a bonus-point and top European Challenge Cup Pool 5 with a 23-0 victory over Agen.

Magnus Bradbury's try was the only point of note in a dull first 40 minutes.

But Mike Coman, Greig Tonks and Hamish Watson crossed in the final 20 to rescue the hosts.

London Irish and Grenoble, five and three points adrift respectively, meet in Reading on Saturday.

Even bereft of numerous internationals, this was an opportunity for Edinburgh to rack up the points against an Agen side that had not won since Halloween, could not progress to the quarter-finals, and even arrived at Murrayfield with seven, rather than eight substitutes.

For a long time it looked like Alan Solomons' side would fail in their quest for a bonus-point, a profligate streak that has blighted them this season seizing hold at the most inopportune moments.

Solomons had called for ruthlessness, and his captain, Stuart McInally's decision to kick a penalty for goal, not touch, after masses of pressure on the Agen line elicited a moan of anguish from the coaches' box.

Regardless, Tonks opened the scoring from tee, and Francois Bouvier spurned a straightforward attempt to level minutes later after a monumental scrum drive yielded a penalty.

Eager to regain the impetus, Edinburgh twice kicked penalties for the corner - one driving maul saw Agen tight-head Nicolas Chocou sin-binned, the other Bradbury held-up.

Again, the hosts laboured and toiled five metres from the line, until finally Bradbury found himself thundering towards winger Francois Tardieu, a physical mismatch he exploited to barge in at the corner.

It was a try some 20 minutes in the making, and after Tonks failed with the touchline conversion a forgettable first half petered out.

Edinburgh were fortunate not to concede after the break, when prop John Andress saw yellow for collapsing a maul and only a brilliantly-won last-ditch penalty halted Agen.

Tardieu spurned a huge opportunity to counter-attack after the visitors pilfered the ball in their own 22 - he dropped the ball when attempting to kick into vast expanses of open turf for his onrushing colleagues.

A storming Will Helu burst down the left created the platform for the long-awaited second try, club captain Coman burrowing over on the hour mark, Tonks again wide from the tee.

The stand-off dummied and squeezed over himself - but missed the conversion - eight minutes later to give Edinburgh a tilt at the seminal fourth try.

It duly arrived, an unstoppable maul piloted by Watson at the back rumbled home, and though Tonks yet again was wayward, and Hoyland was denied a further score by a forward pass, five precious continental points were sealed.


Edinburgh: Jack Cuthbert, Damien Hoyland (from left), Michael Allen, Andries Strauss, Will Helu, Greig Tonks, Sean Kennedy; Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally (capt), John Andress, Alex Toolis, Ben Toolis, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Anton Bresler, Mike Coman, Nathan Fowles, Chris Dean, Dougie Fife.

Agen: Benoit Sicart; François Tardieu, Vincent Roux, Pierre Fouyssac, Filipo Nakosi; François Bouvier, Paul Abadie (capt); Quentin Bethune, Marc Barthomeuf, Nicolas Chocou, Léo Bastien, Corentin Braendlin, Sione Tau, Denis Marchois, Marc Baget.

Replacements: Florian Dufour, Viliamu Afatia, , Felicien Vergnon, Nicolas Gal, Baptiste Cadiou, Clement Darbo, Alban Conduche.