Alan Solomons: Edinburgh error count went through the roof

Edinburgh Rugby's coach Alan Solomons. Picture: www.camerasport.com
Edinburgh Rugby's coach Alan Solomons. Picture: www.camerasport.com
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Alan Solomons admits he has a “huge” job on his hands in transforming Edinburgh after seeing all their decay exposed in this grisly autopsy.

The Ospreys, strengthened by the return of their British and Irish Lions, took a surgeon’s blade to their opponents in a 44-10 rout and prompted the kind of blunt assessment from Edinburgh’s head coach more commonly associated with the medical profession.

Six tries to one was not an exaggerated reflection of the visitors’ inferiority and a grave looking Solomons confessed: “We made far too many errors. We’ve counted that we made 34. That is just massive.

“One shouldn’t take anything away from the Ospreys – they’re a very good side – but I think we made a rod for our own back. Our error rate was through the roof.

“You can’t play professional rugby when you make that many errors.”

Warming to the theme of a brutal diagnosis, the South African continued: “Our kicking execution was poor, our aerial skills were poor, our passing and handling skills were poor. We have to keep working on those things because they’re not going to change overnight.

“Nobody is questioning their commitment or resolve. The guys are putting it in. But you can’t play professional rugby when you make that many errors.

“Since I arrived, that was the most errors we’ve made in a game. And we got punished by the best side we’ve come up against.”

The result – and more particularly the wretched team performance – was a disturbing reality check for Solomons after two reasonably encouraging opening games in the RaboDirect PRO12.

Both the narrow defeat at Munster and the home victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons had suggested Solomons’ absence from Edinburgh’s pre-season planning may not be that significant.

But in Swansea, as Edinburgh struggled to put two passes together and were ripped apart when they gave the ball away, the depth of his new side’s problems, and the size of his own task, were made apparent to the former Ulster coach.

“It’s a very big job. Obviously, the last two years have been very disappointing. The Pro12 is the bread and butter and that has not been as anyone would have wanted, so it’s a massive job.

“My attention has been in South Africa, so I didn’t know what the situation was here. But it’s clear why the last two years were as they were . . . ” Solomons trailed off at that point, possibly uncertain that finger-pointing would make his own difficulties any easier to repair.

Edinburgh brought an overtly physical approach to the Liberty Stadium, but at a venue where Swansea City place style and precision high above aggression on the priority list, even that seemed misplaced.

Richard Hibbard, the Wales and Lions hooker and scorer of two of the Ospreys’ six tries, even claimed his side were the victims of some cheap shots.

“I thought cheap shots had gone out of the modern game, so that was disappointing,” said Hibbard.

“There were one or two flashpoints and their players were in there, like seagulls round a bag of chips.”

One explosive moment led to the Ospreys losing replacement Justin Tipuric to the sin bin for a tip-tackle on Edinburgh scrum-half Sean Kennedy. But far from galvanising the visitors, who were 23-10 down at that stage in the 49th minute, Edinburgh simply fell apart and conceded two tries whilst they enjoyed a one-man advantage.

Solomons added: “I wasn’t here in pre-season, which is not ideal. Our strength and conditioning coach and our defence coach came in after me, so we’ve all come in very late. We’ve played no part in preparations for the season, which makes a massive difference.

“We are busy having our pre-season in-season. I’m getting to know the situation with the players but this was only our third competitive game. By the start of November I will have a fairly good handle on everything.

“The goal for the season is to earn respect from our opponents and respect from our own supporters. We need to regain respect for the club.”

Speedy Ospreys wing Eli Walker joined Hibbard in claiming two tries, with others for Jeff Hassler and Matthew Morgan, whilst Dan Biggar kicked three conversions and two penalties for his side who led 18-3 at the break.

Edinburgh’s only try came when Tim Visser made the most of a rare attacking opening to surge over for his 50th league try at the start of the second-half.

Harry Leonard converted and also struck a penalty but Solomons is already looking ahead to that November stock take, by which time he hopes the future of the Heineken Cup will have been secured.

“The Heineken Cup is a great competition. When I was at Ulster we participated in it and I thought it was a great competition then. It needs to continue.”

Scorers:

Ospreys: Tries: Hassler, Walker 2, Hibbard 2, Morgan. Conversions: Biggar 3, Morgan. Pens: Biggar 2

Glasgow: Tries: Visser. Conversion: Leonard. Penalty: Leonard

Ospreys: R Fussell; J Hassler (A Natoga 59), A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker (T Grabham 71); D Biggar (M Morgan 64), T Tebaldi; D Jones (R Bevington 56), R Hibbard (S Baldwin 55), A Jones (J Rees 69), A Wyn Jones (capt), I Evans (T Ardron 65), T Smith (J Tipuric 37), M Allen, S Lewis.

Edinburgh: G Tonks; N Walker, D Fife (M Tait 41) , N De Luca, T Visser (J Cuthbert 56); H Leonard, S Kennedy (S Hidalgo-Clyne 50); A Dickinson (W Blaauw 53), A Lutui (J Hilterbrand 64), G Cross (WP Nel 50), G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen (O Atkins 74), D Basilaia, D Denton, R Grant (capt, H Watson 59).

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)