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Edinburgh Rugby: 49 (28) Timisoara Saracens: 3 (0)

At a packed MyReside this evening, Edinburgh Rugby cruised to a comfortable win over a plucky Timisoara Saracens side and duly booked a home quarter-final in the Challenge Cup.  They wrapped up the bonus point at the close of the first half and rather jogged their way through the second. Tonight's skipper, Neil Cochrane, making his 50th appearance for the club, notched a brace of tries in a Man of the Match performance.  

The home side were not out of the blocks quite as quickly as they had been in Romania.  It took 12 minutes to cross the whitewash for the first time in a performance that, though it generated seven tries, was pretty workmanlike.  It takes a lot to wow the Embra tifosi at the best of times and they remained resolutely un-wowed this evening.

Yet, although Edinburgh lost momentum in the second period, not helped by SHC's card for disrupting a tap penalty,  a pleasing aspect was that they did not concede a try.  This despite Saracens camping on their line for much of the last ten minutes.  The home defence held attackers up over the line four times in refusing to give up even a consolation score.

To their credit, the Romanians did not fold late in the match and, indeed, for much of the third quarter arguably had the better of the contest.  Poor handling under pressure, coupled with solid home defence, denied them on several occasions.  They have had a tough European campaign but one hopes they will learn from it and continue to progress.

Cochrane's first try came off the back of a driving maul.  In a way, it was reminiscent of the match in Romania, where the Gunners had taken Saracens on up front, where their strength lies.

All three back rowers were involved in the second try on 22 minutes.  Good interplay between Bradbury, Ritchie and Brown put du Preez over to stretch the lead to 14-0.

On 29 minutes, Blairhorn intercepted in midfield and cruised over in regal fashion from distance.  The bonus was secured just before the break when the impressive Dean put Allen over for a 28-0 advantage.

Saracens began the second period strongly and were rewarded by an early Calafeteanu penalty, but Cochrane's second score off a driving maul stretched the lead further, to 35-3 with half an hour left to run.

After replacement five-eighth Jason 'Stovies' Tovey had held up two Romanian drives over the Edinburgh line, The Stovenator ghosted through a gap in the enemy defence in characteristic fashion for try number six on the hour. Hoyland rounded off the scoring shortly afterwards.




Harlequins: 7 (18) Edinburgh Rugby: 13 (23)

Around 90% of the data created during the history of human civilisation has emerged in the last two years. A staggering, if slightly depressing, thought.  

The vast majority of it is guff, of course.  But among the dross there is the odd nugget.  Earlier today, a sage among the Twitterati observed that it was a bit odd that French clubs had, together with their English equivalents, made such a fuss about restructuring cross-border European competition when so few of them seem that interested in actually competing seriously to win.  It's been particularly noticeable this season, with a number of eyebrow-raising results in both competitions.  One feels that the administrators of the Swiss-based competition need to nip this in the bud.

Frankly, even before this match kicked off this afternoon, I would have been surprised if Stade Francais had defeated Harlequins next weekend.  I'm even more convinced now, given that the tournament organisers have



Zebre: 19 (7) Edinburgh Rugby: 24 (13)

The matchtag for the so-called 'Big Weekend' clash in Parma today was #ZEBvEDI.  It put me in mind of cult 70s TV series 'The Magic Roundabout', featuring Ermintrude, Brian the Snail, Florence and, of course, Zebedee.  It's an appropriate metaphor for the Italian/Scottish fixtures in the Guinness PRO12. Anyone who thinks that these can be marketed as being somehow equivalent to the Irish, Welsh or, indeed, Scottish derbies is living in a dream world. 

Full marks for ambition, mind.

Gregor Townsend is not the only observer to lament the end - for this season only, one hopes - of the festive double header.  The celtic competition has genuinely improved with the change in Champions Cup qualification, which has reduced the number of meaningless matches considerably. There are now very few clubs who do not have something to play for in the last couple of outings.  This term, the Embramen may yet have a shot at a top six place in the home straight.  So

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