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PREVIEW: Edinburgh and Dragons go in search of maiden final

Wednesday 15th April 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Resumé du Quart de finale de l'European Rugby Challenge Cup : London Irish 18 - Edinburgh Rugby 23 - 05/04/2015 20:27

Resumé du Quart de finale de l'European Rugby Challenge Cup : London Irish 18 - Edinburgh Rugby 23 - 05/04/2015 20:27

History will be made on the hallowed turf of BT Murrayfield on Friday night as Edinburgh Rugby and Newport Gwent Dragons clash to claim a spot in their maiden European Rugby Challenge Cup final.

The Guinness PRO12 rivals will fight-it-out for a place in the Twickenham Stoop final after they both battled to quarter-final victories. The Scottish side secured a home date for the last-four by resisting a red-hot London Irish comeback in Reading. Lyn and Kingsley Jones’ Dragons overcame Cardiff Blues in a Welsh-European derby to earn their spot.

The Dragons completed a domestic double over European Rugby Champions Cup contenders Leinster Rugby on the weekend. Flanker James Benjamin led the comeback charge after coming on as a replacement with two tries to overturn a 22-8 deficit. The 25-22 triumph gives the region crucial momentum as they travel North.

The Dragons will also take heart from Edinburgh’s heavy home defeat at the hands of Munster Rugby. They were beaten 34-3, but flanker Roddy Grant has told the Dragons to beware the wounded beast.

He said: “The defeat to Munster won’t affect our confidence for this week. The weekend is going to be pretty grim after this loss. We’ll wear it quite badly I think, as you would with any loss even if it’s only by one point.

“But it’s professional sport and we can’t afford to mope around because it’s a huge game this weekend. We’ll look at things. We’ll flush it and then get on to the next one. I’ve no doubt we’ll get back on the horse and come out firing come Friday. A wounded animal is always the most dangerous.”

Dragons’ Hallam Amos, who has beaten more defenders, made more clean breaks and made the most metres in this season’s competition says his side are full of belief.

He said: “A final would be a first for the Dragons and hopefully on the back of the last few performances we can get there. It's 80 minutes of cup rugby and anything can happen but we are confident going in. We are really looking forward to it and we are not naive about the challenge.

“It was a good win against Leinster but there are definitely parts of our game that need to improve, as there were against Cardiff Blues. But the momentum we've got is good, our confidence is building week on week and hopefully we can take that to Murrayfield and play some running rugby.”

Match facts

  • Edinburgh and the Dragons have met twice before in Europe's top flight with the Welsh    region coming out on top in both games in 2004/05.
  • Edinburgh have won six of their seven Challenge Cup games this season, equalling their best ever run of form in European competition.
  • The Dragons have reached the semi-finals once before, losing 46-29 away to ASM Clermont Auvergne in 2007.
  • Whichever side emerges victorious will reach their first European final.
  • Edinburgh have the best tackling success rate (90%) in the tournament; they have missed an average of 11 tackles per game.
  • The Dragons have scored the second most tries in the tournament (34) and the most of any of the four semi-final clubs.
  • Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is the top points-scorer in this season's competition (66), successfully slotting 21/27 kicks at goal to add to his two tries.
  • The Dragons wing, Hallam Amos, has made the most clean breaks (13) this season, as well as the second most metres (538) and defenders beaten (24).
  • The Dragons have scored 16 tries off first phase ball in the competition this season, the most of any team, whilst Edinburgh have scored just five – the fewest of any side to reach the knockout stage.
  • The Scots have conceded just one try in the final 20 minutes of their games, fewer than any other team in the competition.

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REPORT: Edinburgh make Scottish rugby history

Friday 17th April 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Les Ecossais participeront le 1er mai prochain à leur première finale européenne

Les Ecossais participeront le 1er mai prochain à leur première finale européenne

Edinburgh Rugby clinched a place in the Challenge Cup Final in emphatic style at Murrayfield to make history as the first Scottish side to reach a European final.

The Scottish capital side stormed to their largest victory in Europe with a rousing 45-16 triumph over Newport Gwent Dragons with scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne helping himself to another record 25 points. Now they go on to face either Gloucester Rugby or Exeter Chiefs at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday, 1 May.

Hidalgo-Clyne once again proved their star-turn with a try in his club record 25-point haul that took his tally in Europe this season to 91 points. That makes him the highest scorer in the tournament.

Back ow man Stuart McInally and wing Tim Visser both crossed for tries in the first half as the home side reached half-time with a 21-9 lead. But the boot of Dragons outside half Dorian Jones, and a try from prop Brok Harris just after the re-start, kept the Welsh region in touch at 21-16 early in the second half.

But Heineken Man of the Match Ben Toolis, who ruled the roost at the line-out, Hidalgo-Clyne and Douge Fife all went over as Edinburgh scored 24 unanswered points in a storming second-half display. In contrast it was a sorry end for the Dragons who fell at the semi-final stage of this tournament for a second time.

They made a bright start through Jones’ early penalty but the home pack dominated the rest of the half as their power scrum made life very uncomfortable for the visitors. Hidalgo-Clyne levelled when Wales No8 Taulupe Faletau was binned for dragging down an Edinburgh driving line-out.

McInally made the extra man count when he stormed through two defenders to put Edinburgh ahead for the first time. Jones clawed back three points with a penalty but Edinburgh claimed a second try just moments later.

Hidalgo-Clyne was the architect, the scrum-half’s break taking Edinburgh to within firing range before his clever reverse pass set Visser clear to claim his 15th European try. The scrum half's conversion hit the upright to ruin a run of 15 successive kicks.

Again Jones briefly kept the Dragons in touch at 15-9 with a long-range penalty but Hidalgo-Clyne kicked a brace to open a 21-9 lead at half-time. Then Harris crashed over from close range and Jones’ conversion hinted at a Welsh comeback at the start of the second half.

But Jonathan Evans became the second Dragons to be sin-binned for infringing as Edinburgh threatened and again the home side made them pay. Toolis charged down Jason Tovey’s clearance to score and try which Hidalgo-Clyne converted.

Then Hidalgo-Clyne exploited the empty-space left by his opposite number as he sat in the sin bin to deliver a knock-out blow with a brilliant 30 metre break for a try at the posts which he once again improved. Fife hammered home the final nail in the Dragons' coffin as he finished a wonderful break by Sam Beard to put the icing on a thrilling win.

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