Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons is confident that flying winger Tim Visser will be fit to return against the Dragons this Friday after his side shipped five tries in a 34-23 defeat by a powerful Munster.
Visser sat out the season opener with a foot injury as Edinburgh showed admirable fight to come desperately close to taking a losing bonus point thanks to Nick de Luca’s and Lee Jones’ second-half tries.
But after just putting his full coaching team in place last week, Solomons was delighted to see plenty of raw materials to work with in the months ahead.
“You have to remember we have a lot of experienced guys missing and the young guys have come into a team at the start of its rebuilding process.
“Greig Laidlaw is out for the next four weeks. That’s a massive loss for us. Matt Scott is also a big loss, but thankfully I think Tim Visser will be able to play against the Dragons. I am hoping so at least.
“What we showed was very very positive and we will take a lot of heart from that. We’ve literally just started. I came in four weeks ago.
“Fundamentally we are going to have a pre-season in season until the end of October. We are going to have to get our systems and everything in place.
“The first few months of this competition are going to be very tough for us, but if we show that kind of resolve we’ll get through it okay and after that we’ll show a real improvement,” he said.
Munster coach Rob Penney said he was delighted to see his squad begin to develop after they got their RaboDirect PRO12 season off to the perfect start. A stylish opening half-hour set the foundation for the Munster win, but Penney will be somewhat concerned that his side failed to bury Edinburgh when they had the chance, which left the home side defending their line late on.
Aside from the concession of a couple of Edinburgh tries the Munster management can have little to complain about as they matched Leinster’s bonus-point start to the league, but Penney was most satisfied to see his fringe players shine.
“The long-term strategic goal is to create depth in all the positions and you can only do that by giving players access,” said Penney.
“Ultimately, there will be opportunities to give people time in the middle and it will be up to them to deliver.
“But I’m rapt with the intent in the first instance and then execution and decision-making, large components of it was excellent, and that’s what you’re after,” he said.
First-half tries from Denis Hurley, James Cronin and James Coughlan gave Munster the start they needed, but once De Luca and Jones touched down for Solomons’ side, there was periods of concern for Munster. But those worries were short lived as Ivan Dineen and JJ Hanrahan both dotted down shortly after Edinburgh scores in the second-half, which the former Ulster coach, Solomons, was irked by.
“We were really in with a shout until right at the end where we had the line-out on the line. We could easily have gotten a bonus point out of that game,” said Solomons.
“I think in the first half we just failed to stop momentum. And the consequence of failing to stop that momentum was that we didn’t have width on our defence.
“But what encouraged me is the resolve we showed in the second-half. We came out and scored 17 points, they got 12. Both of their tries originated from errors that we made from the restarts after we had scored. We’ve got plenty to work on,” he said.
Munster took a 22-6 lead in at half-time and after a couple of quick replacements Edinburgh began to gain a foothold in the action.
And ten minutes into the second-half their efforts were rewarded when De Luca broke through a Coughlan tackle up the middle to touch down under the posts, with Francis’ conversion pegging Munster back to nine points once more. But they didn’t get any closer as Munster surged clear again to send Edinburgh home point less, but with plenty of positives.
Munster: Tries: D Hurley, J Coughlan, J Cronin, I Dineen, JJ Hanrahan. Cons: I Keatley (2), JJ Hanrahan. Pens: I Keatley.
Edinburgh: Tries: N de Luca, L Jones; Cons: P Francis, H Leonard; Pens: P Francis (2), H Leonard.
Munster: D Hurley; R O’Mahony, C Laulala, I Dineen, J Murphy; I Keatley, D Williams; J Cronin, M Sherry, S Archer; D Foley, Donncha, O’Callaghan; Dave O’Callaghan, S Dougall, J Coughlan. Replacements: B Holland for Donncha O’Callaghan 55, T O’Donnell for Dave O’Callaghan 55, C Sheridan for Williams, D Varley for Sherry 61, D Kilcoyne for Cronin 61, J Ryan for Archer 61, JJ Hanrahan for Keatley 64, C Bohane for O’Mahony 71.
Edinburgh: G Tonks; D Fife, N De Luca, B Atiga, L Jones; P Francis, S Kennedy; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel; G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen; S Cox, R Grant, D Denton. Replacements: L Niven for Dickson 6 blood, J Cuthbert for Atiga 46, H Watson for van der Westhuizen 49, H Leonard for Francis 59, S Hidalgo-Clyne for Kennedy 71.