The end to Edinburgh Rugby’s sweep seven-year knockout run throws up possibility of intriguing Challenge Cup semi-final

Edinburgh’s Connor Boyle celebrates after scoring a second half try against Bath. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

Should both Scottish sides progress they would meet each other in the semi-final in what would be the biggest inter-city derby of the pro era.

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The significance of Edinburgh’s victory was not lost on Mike Blair, whose side will host Wasps in the quarter-final at the DAM Health Stadium on the weekend of May 6-8.

“Apparently Edinburgh haven’t won a knockout game for seven years,” said the coach, happy to put the statistic to bed.

During the fallow period the club contrived to lose one last-16 match, five quarter-finals and one semi across European competitions and Pro14 play-offs.

It all pre-dates Blair’s time and there is a sense that this Edinburgh side has it in them to at least emulate the class of 2015 who reached the Challenge Cup final under Alan Solomons before losing narrowly to Gloucester at the Stoop.

Emiliano Boffelli scored a try in each half as Edinburgh defeated Bath 41-19. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

Blair has reinvigorated Edinburgh after things rather fizzled out in Richard Cockerill’s final season. The combination of his ambitious attacking philosophy and the fast track at the club’s atmospheric new ground makes for a heady brew, particularly in evening games when a crowd of around 5,000 can still seem fairly raucous.

Edinburgh have now played nine competitive games at the DAM Health, winning eight and drawing one, and it will take something special to get the better of them in their own lair.

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Blair was impressed by the character shown by his players as they played their way back into the game after a sticky start.

Blair Kinghorn impressed at stand-off for Edinburgh. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

“In the second half we really cranked it up and we want to be positive about that but we also need to understand that in bigger games it is not going to be enough to just come into games in the second half,” said the coach.

“It’s about being in every moment, understanding we’re in control and not giving up opportunities to the opposition.”

Bath started aggressively and Edinburgh were guilty of coughing up possession as two tries from Sam Underhill and another from Ben Spencer saw the visitors get their noses in front in a topsy-turvy first half. Blair Kinghorn’s adroit running kept Edinburgh in the hunt, with the stand-off creating once score for Emiliano Boffelli and then adding a fine try of his own.

The host went in at the break 19-15 down but didn’t concede a single point in a powerful second-half performance which saw them score four tries through Pierre Schoeman, Boffelli again, Mark Bennett and Connor Boyle.

Edinburgh now have a run of home games coming up, starting with a visit from the URC’s bottom side Zebre on Friday, and Blair will stick to the same formula.

“I think we’re comfortable in what we’re trying to do and we’re not changing a huge amount from game to game,” he said.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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