As well as suffering their second defeat of the season on a tough night at the Sportsground, Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons now has a couple of more injury concerns on his plate.
With eight players already sidelined because of injury – Grieg Tonks is expected back though – out-half Phil Burleigh looks certain to miss next Saturday’s tricky assignment against Munster at Murrayfield due to a muscle injury, which forced him off midway through the second-half against Connacht.
Young 18-year-old full-back Blair Kinghorn is also a doubt for the clash against Anthony Foley’s side, after an ankle injury brought a premature end to his first start for the region at half-time at the weekend.
It was a tough blow for the former Currie clubman who had impressed in the first-half and landed a long-range penalty for his side to trim the half-time deficit to 8-6.
Solomons’ hand will be boosted by a likely return of World Cup stars David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, John Hardie and WP Nel, but just as his squad is expanded, he is hit by another couple of injuries.
“Well I think certainly, I can’t see Phil being available for selection. The calf has been worrying him, and now it seems like it is on another area. But it doesn’t seem to me to be positive,” said Solomons.
“Blair, I can’t comment on, I have not spoken to him at all. It is his ankle. We will have to see what the extent of that injury is but I would say, Phil, I am not optimistic that he is going to be available next weekend.
“Blair was playing very well. He got an excellent kick over, that great run down the right-hand touchline. His ankle wasn’t right. So obviously, those are two big losses.”
After three home wins and victory away to Treviso to start their campaign, Edinburgh will be happy to return to familiar surroundings next weekend.
However, a tally of nine tries from their six games does not suggest a fluid attacking machine. They are likely to get more opportunities against a Munster side that conceded four against Ulster last time out, but even in defeat Solomons could spot positive notes.
“I think what the guys did well was, even right at the death, they took their chances but they worked their way up from their own try line to the ten metre line. But bonus points are vital. It’s always a difficult place to come out and play. The penalty count, particularly in those first 27 minutes, played a major role.
“The only thing I am disappointed with was the game against Zebre where I honestly felt we should have won. I am not unhappy with where we are. But we have got a massive game against Munster.”
The interpretation of the scrum in particular by referee Leighton Hodges could be questioned by both teams who earned penalties off the set-piece, but Edinburgh can have no complaint about some of their infringements – especially in attack, which nullified any chance they had of further impacting the scoreboard.
One such example occurred seven minutes from the interval when Sam Hidalgo-Clyne broke well off the back of a scrum and sent Kinghorn clear, but the support players flew off their feet at the breakdown. This happened on a couple of occasions. In the final minute Fraser McKenzie was deservedly shown a yellow card for a late tackle, while Anton Bresler was fortunate to escape a similar punishment when he took Connacht try scorer Tiernan O’Halloran out in the air.
“The big factor in the game was the penalty count,” said Solomons. “We had six penalties in the opening 27 minutes. The first eight points came from the concession of penalties.
“Ten of the 13 penalties came from the breakdown. We have to look very carefully at that.”
Connacht: Try: O’Halloran. Penalties: Carty (3).
Edinburgh: Penalties: Hidalgo-Clyne (2), Kinghorn.
Connacht: O’Halloran (Adeolokun 72); Leader, Aki, Ronaldson, Healy; Carty, Marmion (Porter 70); Buckley (Bealham 74), McCartney (Heffernan 72), Ah You (White 48); Muldowney (Roux 48) (Muldowney 75, blood), Browne; Muldoon, Fox-Matamua, Masterson (McKeon 63). Unused sub: Parata.
Edinburgh: Kinghorn (McLennan h-t); Hoyland, Dean, Beard, Helu; Burleigh (Fife 67), Hidalgo-Clyne; Sutherland (Dell 67), Cochrane (Turner 67), Andress (Berghan 67); Bresler (Toolis 63), McKenzie; Coman, Grant, Manu (Du Preez 48). Unused sub: Kennedy.
Referee: L Hodges (WRU).