The result means Mike Blair’s side win Pool C and their likely opponents in next weekend’s first knockout round are Bath, although that will not be confirmed until after the Pool A game between Toulon and Biarritz on Saturday night.
The home side had rested a number of their big guns for the game, offering the opportunity for several of the club’s young homegrown players to step up. Included in that group was Connor Boyle who seized his chance with two first-half tries, his first for Edinburgh, in a memorable performance by the openside flanker.
Edinburgh had beaten Brive 66-3 in their last Challenge Cup tie, in January, and this was almost as convincing. They ran in eight tries in total, with Stuart McInally, Henry Pyrgos, WP Nel, Ramiro Moyano (two) and Pierce Phillips also touching down. Jaco van der Walt converted six of them and Charlie Savala knocked over one.
The relatively inexperienced center pairing of Cammy Hutchison and Matt Currie impressed and Glen Young was immense in his unaccustomed role in the back row.
There was a minute’s applause before the match to celebrate the life of Tom Smith who died this week at the age of 50. The outstanding Scotland and Lions prop had had a spell as Edinburgh’s forward coach.
Having had to wait 11 weeks to return to Challenge Cup action Edinburgh didn’t waste any time in taking the game to their French opponents. They scored three tries inside the first 20 minutes, all stemming from lineout drives.
The first was a textbook example, Stuart McInally finishing things off and Jaco van der Walt converting. The second saw Edinburgh recycle and use Pierre Schoeman as a wrecking ball to create space for others. Boyle was the chief beneficiary, finishing adroitly with a stretch of his right arm.
It was the young flanker’s first try for the club and he got his second ten minutes later, twisting out of the rolling maul after Marshall Sykes had won good lineout ball.
Pau had been caught cold and any faint hope they might have had of qualifying for the last 16 were extinguished by two more tries before half-time.
Edinburgh’s pack had been hogging the limelight in the early stages but the fourth try came courtesy of a delightful piece of improvisation from Ramiro Moyano who cut through the Pau defense then chipped ahead. Henry Pyrgos gathered the bouncing ball and plunged over.
Moyano looked in the mood and appeared to have got a try of his own a couple of minutes later as he slalomed his way to the line. Unfortunately for the Argentine winger it was chalked off after van der Walt was adjudged to have been a little over zealous in his clearout from a ruck.
The fifth try was delayed only momentarily, with replacement prop WP Nel squeezing his way into the left-hand corner despite the attentions of three Pau defenders.
Van der Walt’s fourth conversion of the night gave Edinburgh a 33-0 lead at the break.
Moyano had seen his try ruled out in the first half but he was not to be denied in the second period. Magnus Bradbury made the initial thrust and Pyrgos clipped the ball through for Moyano to finish, returning the favor to the winger who had had set up his score.
The game was disrupted by a string of substitutions but Edinburgh still found time to notch two more tries. Good work by Chris Dean and Currie created the opportunity for the first and Phillips finished it off, despite a juggle on the line. The home side got their eighth try of the night through Moyano, who emerged forth from his own half to run in a marvelous solo effort.
In between, replacement Thomas Carol got a late consolation try for Pau.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: McInally, Boyle 2, Pyrgos, Nel, Moyano 2, Phillips. Cons: van der Walt 7, Savala.
Paul: Try: Carol.
Edinburgh: H Immelman (C Savala 48); D Graham, M Currie, C Hutchison (C Dean 64), R Moyano; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (C Shiel 53); P Schoeman (B Venter 48; Schoeman 64), S McInally (A McBurney 58), L de Bruin (WP Nel 12), M Sykes, G Gilchrist (J Hodgson 41), G Young, C Boyle, M Bradbury (P Phillips 64).
Paul: P Auradou; A Tuimaba, E Barrett, J Vatubua (T Carol 54), V Pinto; T Debaes, A Levron (C Lebail 61); T Bordenave (N Corato 42), I Calles (L Rey 10), K Yaméogo (L Ignace Vea 61), H Auradou, S Cummins (F Metz 54), R Hewat, T Hamonou, J Joseph (G Habel Kuffner 71) .
Referee: Sarah Cox (England)
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.