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PREVIEW: Hidalgo-Clyne relishing school reunion

Tuesday 31st March 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Les London Irish espèrent retrouver un dernier carré européen sept ans après sa dernière apparition. Face à Edimbourg

Les London Irish espèrent retrouver un dernier carré européen sept ans après sa dernière apparition. Face à Edimbourg

Edinburgh Rugby scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is hoping for a school reunion with former half-back partner Scott Steele when they clash with London Irish in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final.

The Scotland No 9 played outside Steele during their school days at Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh. But since a switch to the base of the scrum, Hidalgo-Clyne is relishing the prospect of meeting his old classmate at the Madjeski Stadium on Sunday, when Steele will be on the other side.

“Our focus moves onto London Irish and we will have a good look at them this week. I know a couple of guys down there. I played with Scott Steele in school, he’s a good player and I’m looking forward to that hugely,” siad Hidalgo-Clyne.

“He was scrum-half and I was outside-half when we were were at Merchiston Castle School together. It’s really important for the club looking forward, we’ve been up and down this season but it would be fantastic for the club and Scottish rugby if we could get that home semi-final.”

Edinburgh will welcome back their Scottish starters for the last-eight tie, with the likes of Ross Ford, Matt Scott and Dougie Fife set for recalls.

London Irish will also welcome back Blair Cowan and Geoff Cross from Scotland duty. Influential back-row man Ofisa Treviranus has been ruled out after he underwent surgery on an injured ankle. But Irish hooker David Paice says his side are driven by the chance to lift some silverware.

“Everyone is very excited. It is a huge game and a chance to win some silverware this season. We know the quarter final is a huge opportunity for us and we really want to do well in that,” said Paice.

“It is unbelievable playing in these games, the one versus Toulouse was memorable, the atmosphere was amazing and the crowd were great. All week there is an extra buzz, knock-out rugby is always different. It is exciting and something that doesn’t happen too often and an opportunity that everyone relishes.”

Match Facts

  • Andrew Fenby beat 28 defenders in the pool stage, at least seven more than any other player from any team.
  • James Hilterbrand found his man with all 13 of his line-out throws in the pool stage, no one else managed 10+ throws without misplacing at least one.
  • Myles Dorrian slotted 10/10 goal kicks in the pool stage, the only player to manage 10+ shots at the sticks without missing.
  • Edinburgh had the best tackling success rate (91%) of any side in the pool stage, missing on average just 9.8 hits per game.
  • The Scottish side have the best scrum success rate in the competition so far this season (90%).
  • London Irish have won 19 of their last 21 home games in this competition, however they have never hosted Scottish opposition in this tournament.
  • This is the fifth time the Exiles have reached this stage of the Challenge Cup, winning their first three quarter-finals (2000, 2002, 2006) but losing the last (2009).
  • These sides have met four times previously, with all four meetings coming in the pool stage of the Champions Cup (2002/03 & 2011/12) and Edinburgh winning the last three of these encounters.
  • Having previously lost seven in a row in England, Edinburgh have now won three of their last four away games against English opposition in European action (Champions & Challenge Cups).
  • London Irish conceded just one try in the middle 40 minutes of their pool games, the best record of its kind in the tournament.


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REPORT: Edinburgh hold on to book Dragons date

Sunday 5th April 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Sur leur pelouse

Sur leur pelouse

Edinburgh Rugby resisted a red-hot London Irish comeback to claim a 23-18 triumph at the Madjeski Stadium and book a place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finals.

A WP Nel try and three Sam Hidaglo-Clyne penalties saw the Scots sail into a 16-0 lead before London Irish marched back into the contest. Conor Gilsenan scored on the stroke of half-time to cut the gap to six points at the break.

Scott Steele gave Irish the lead after the break before Fraser McKenzie crashed over for Edinburgh. And they looked to have thrown it away in the final act, but Alisdair Dickinson held-up  David Paice over the try-line.

They now have a Murrayfield date with the Newport Gwent Dragons to look forward to in two week's time.

Hidalgo-Clyne fired his team towards their first European semi-final in three seasons in the opening two minutes after Irish skipper George Skivington left a high tackle on outside-half Tom Heathecote. The slight scrum-half – who maintained a 100 percent kicking record against the Scarlets last weekend – continued his form with a long distance penalty for an early 3-0 lead.

The Exiles could not stop Edinburgh’s lightning fast start and found themselves with a 10-point gap to close after just 12 minutes. Edinburgh earned a lineout five metres from the hosts’ line and attempted to shunt their way over. The initial drive was held up but barnstorming prop WP Nel splintered off the back and crashed over and Hidalgo-Clyne added the extras.

The 20-year-old added another two three-pointers before London Irish finally got on the scoreboard. Andy Fenby sliced through on half-way to spark an Exiles attack before the move broke down deep in enemy territory. But referee Pascal Gauzere was playing advantage for a penalty which Geraghty converted.

The Scottish side seemed to be cruising towards a 13-point half-time advantage, but London Irish flanker Conor Gilsenan had other ideas. The blindside broke free 40 metres from the line and streaked in to score. Geraghty landed the conversion to cut the gap to 16-10 at half-time.

The momentum was only with one side after the break and Irish made it 18 unanswered points to snatch the lead. With a penalty advantage coming, Geraghty put a speculative chip over the top which Tom Fowlie and Tim Visser contested. The battle went to ground before Steele spotted his opportunity and sniped in at the corner against his compatriots.

But Edinburgh were far from dead and buried and snatched back the lead eight minutes later. Hidalgo-Clyne spotted a gap and broke downfield before Fraser McKenzie eventually found a gap to crash over. Hidalgo-Clyne converted to give them a 23-18 advantage heading into the final quarter.

They almost threw it all away in the final play of the game when Irish drove over the try-line, but Dickison was on hand to hold-up Paice and seal their first European semi-final since they were beaten by Ulster in the Heineken Cup three years ago.

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