FOUR tries by Darcy Graham, including a first-half hat-trick, took Edinburgh into the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and a likely rematch with old foes Bordeaux.

The bonus-point win, in which Duhan van der Merwe added a fifth touchdown late in the game, was enough to qualify Richard Cockerill’s side as sixth seeds in the last-eight draw, meaning they will play the third-best winners from the five pools.

Head coach Cockerill had said he would favour a trip to his former club Leicester or Bristol, but accepted a return to Bordeaux was more likely. The French club beat Edinburgh at home and drew here earlier in the Pool Three campaign, and ended up five points clear of the Scots.

“We’ve played Bordeaux twice, so if we end up in Bordeaux, who are a very good side, we know what it looks like and feels like,” Cockerill said. “We know how good we’re going to have to be and how good they are, so that is what it is.

“Look, wherever we go is going to be difficult, because those four sides that qualify for home quarters are all good teams. Of all of them, you’d probably

want to go to Leicester, because they’re the team that’s least on form, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for us.”

Edinburgh looked off form at first against an Agen team who defended in determined fashion, but three tries from Graham before the break knocked much of the stuffing out of them and a solid if largely unspectacular victory was in the bag.

Jaco van der Walt’s third-minute penalty was the only score in a first quarter in which neither attack was able to threaten the line. Raphael Lagarde had a chance to equalise but pulled his penalty wide, and in the end that proved to be Agen’s best opportunity all afternoon to break their duck.

The visitors had been wholly committed in defence in those initial 20 minutes, but eventually succumbed to a smart break initiated by George Taylor following a line-out. When the centre was stopped he fed Hamish Watson, and the openside swiftly passed on to Graham, who finished off from a few metres out, with Van der Walt converting.

The double-figure cushion removed some of the tentativeness that Cockerill’s team had been displaying, and the extra verve shown in attack bore fruit as half time approached. Little looked to be on when Grant Gilchrist was felled in midfield, but a quick passing move to the right brought Graham back into play. With Damien Hoyland outside him as a decoy, the winger cut inside then back out again to touch down close to the corner for an unconverted try.

A penalty award after 40 minutes saw Van der Walt kick to the corner, and when the ball came back down the line a looping pass gave Graham just enough space to squeeze over and complete his hat-trick. The conversion made it 22-0 at the break, by which point the only question was how long it would take Edinburgh to secure the bonus point.

Another 27 minutes, was the answer, after a long, stodgy spell of play. Graham was the man who supplied it, bursting through a flimsy defence from 30 metres out to score close to the posts. Simon Hickey, on for Van der Walt, added the two points.

With four minutes to go van der Merwe ended Graham’s monopoly of the try-scoring with a simple touchdown from a Hickey post following a scrum. Hickey converted again.

Scorers, Edinburgh: Tries: Graham 4, Van der Merwe. Cons: Van der Walt 2, Hickey 2. Pen: Van der Walt.

Edinburgh: D Hoyland; D Graham, M Bennett, G Taylor, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Groom; P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, L Crosbie, H Watson, N Haining. Substitutes: M Willemse, R Sutherland, P Ceccarelli, F McKenzie, J Barclay, H Pyrgos, S Hickey, C Dean.

Agen: L Berdeu; J Taulagi, J Sadie, N Decron, B Masilevu; R Lagarde, P Abadie; G Tetrashvili, C Martinez, W Desmaison, P Phillips, A Motoc, R Briatte (captain), J Jegerlhener, D Hayes. Substitutes: P Ngauamo, F Correa, C Chabeaudie, A Tarazona, G Maravat, H Verdu, S Vaka, J Jane.

Referee: C Maxwell-Keys (England). Att: 5,710.