EVEN allowing for the fact that they have so far avoided some of their toughest opponents in the URC, Edinburgh’s rise to the top of the table has been remarkable.

Saturday’s 34-10 home win over Cardiff which put them four points clear of Leinster at the summit was a sixth victory from eight starts, and was once more achieved in some style.

Mark Bennett was singled out for praise by head coach Mike Blair after the game at the DAM Health Stadium, and the Scotland centre certainly played his part with two of his team’s five tries. But Bennett himself preferred to heap plaudits on Emiliano Boffelli and Ramiro Moyano, the two summer signings from Argentina who have played major roles in the far more positive approach that the team has adopted this season since Blair took charge. 

Moyano opened the scoring and Boffelli claimed the second try almost before Cardiff knew what hit them. Many players take some time to adapt to a change of surroundings, especially if a new language is involved, but the Pumas pair have fitted in more or less seamlessly, and more or less immediately.

“They’re brilliant,” Bennett said. “I love playing with them. They’re great guys on and off the field. 

“You see what they bring on the pitch. They are quality, quality players and I think their work in the back three is excellent. 

“I know it’s a few weeks ago now, but against Saracens Emilliano was shouting to Ramiro in Spanish and he was translating it straight away to me in English. That in itself is incredible, never mind the actual performance they were putting on on the pitch.”

Of course, it takes more than two players to make a team, and the rest of Edinburgh’s back division were also on fire in an opening 40 minutes which has to go down as their best half of rugby so far this season. “We’d be hard pushed to say otherwise,” Bennett accepted. “We were sharp, we were clinical and we actually missed a few opportunities as well.

“We created a lot more than we scored, so I think as a back line that’s bloody exciting. We’re getting our roles right and when we execute them we’re scoring. What more do you want?

“The second half was tough going. It was stop-start and hard to find any momentum. So there is plenty to work on - but it was a hell of a performance from us.”

Indeed, it was a performance in which a try bonus point and the victory were both secured before the break, as Bennett scored his first and then his fellow-centre James Lang got Edinburgh’s fourth in the last play of the first half. A Rhys Priestland penalty had got Cardiff off the mark towards the half-hour, and the visitors managed to rouse themselves a little after the break, as a try from Owen Lane converted by Jarrod Evans took them to 27-10 down and briefly gave them hope of staging some sort of fightback. 

But, after a couple of near misses, it was Edinburgh who had the final word as Bennett breezed through a fatigued defence to score his team’s fifth try. Substitute Jaco van der Walt added the two points to that touchdown, Boffelli having converted two tries in the first half as well as scoring a penalty.  

Despite all the points being scored by backs, Bennett insisted it would be unfair to overlook the role of the forwards in the victory. If Magnus Bradbury was the outstanding contributor up front, the man of the match was very much first among equals as the pack won the physical battle to build the platform which the backs then exploited. 

“Our forward pack was outstanding,” Bennett continued. “They were so blooming physical teams have to respect that, and we have players out wide who can do damage. 

“And Blair is an essential cog in that,” he added, referring to stand-off Kinghorn, who continues to grow in stature in his new position. “His distribution is brilliant and he chucked a couple of cracking ones to get us into that space. When it goes right we’re going to be hard to defend against.”

Besides being top of the league, Edinburgh got their Challenge Cup campaign off to an excellent start last month with that win at Saracens, and now look to build on that on Saturday when they visit London Irish. “That’s an exciting challenge for us,” Bennett added. “Irish are a good side - they’ve had some cracking performances in the Prem this year.

“We just want to follow on from what we have done. We had a great win away at Sarries and a great win on Saturday. We’ve got to keep that momentum going.”