Coach Alan Solomons is urging Edinburgh to build on a positive showing in the 37-34 defeat by Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on Saturday and, in the process, boost their rivals’ bid for the RaboDirect PRO12 title.
In addition to bolstering Glasgow’s challenge for a home play-off semi-final, the result means the 1872 Cup remains in the west for another season, although four tries and a narrow defeat yielded two bonus points for the visitors. Edinburgh’s disappointing season will conclude when they face Munster – a team bidding for the play-offs – at Meggetland on Saturday then travel to meet Leinster the following week.
The scoreline, and certain aspects of the performance, would support the view that there has been some progress over the season. However, while a Glasgow side with an eye on honours and oozing confidence were given a closer run than many might have expected, Edinburgh were always chasing the hosts.
Understandably, Solomons, who had dispensed with the kicking game that has been the Edinburgh blueprint this season, focused on the favourable aspects. “We got two bonus points out of it so I think that’s pretty positive for us,” he said. “I thought we played positively and it was a good performance by the team. Overall, in terms of character and heart, there was some very good stuff in it.”
And of the decision to abandon the boot-to-ball template, he added: “We decided that they wouldn’t be expecting us to play the way that we played. And that, I think, caught them a little bit on the hop.”
The main sources of grief for Solomons were the disciplinary lapses that saw two players sin-binned, and the repetition of errors that have littered a campaign in which Edinburgh have won just seven of their 20 matches. “Error rate and penalty count were big factors, the yellow cards were obviously big factors. It’s not a lack of confidence, it’s a lack of focus. I’ve said this before, but the team is fatiguing, there is no doubt about that.”
By contrast, Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend is relishing the prospect of being involved in the decisive phase of the competition and has no concerns over the fitness of his men. Their willingness to run the ball, combined with the difficulties identified by Solomons allowed the home side to build an early lead, with Finn Russell landing penalties either side of a Peter Murchie try as they went 11-0 up in as many minutes. At that stage Edinburgh had not yet visited the opposition 22.
The first sortie into the opposition danger zone ended with Willem Nel twisting and muscling his way over for a fine try. Greig Laidlaw converted and when he landed a penalty in 20 minutes the deficit was down to a single point. However, Glasgow stepped up a gear and by half-time had added tries from Ruaridh Jackson and Mark Bennett plus a Russell conversion, while Laidlaw’s second penalty left Edinburgh – who had seen Izak Van Der Westhuizen yellow carded – ten points behind with the prospect of a strong wind at the their backs in the second period.
However, a blunder from the restart was soon followed by a yellow card for Mike Coman and the misfortunes mounted when Murchie darted in for his second try and Russell converted as Glasgow enjoyed even greater territorial domination than they had in the first half.
Edinburgh battled back with a converted try from the impressive Matt Scott and, although a Rob Harley try made the game safe four minutes from the end, Edinburgh’s Tomas Leonardi crashed over then Tim Visser raced in for a solo score – Laidlaw adding the conversions – to bag two bonus points.
On the Munster game, Solomons said: “We know they are a top side but if we can cut our error rate, cut down the number of penalties and play like this, we have every prospect of getting a result.”
Glasgow: Tries – Murchie (2), Jackson, Bennett, Harley. Cons – Russell (3). Pens – Russell (2)
Edinburgh: Tries – Nel, Scott, Leonardi, Visser. Cons – Laidlaw (4). Pens – Laidlaw (2)
Glasgow Warriors: P Murchie, S Maitland, M Bennett (R Vernon 72), F Russell, T Seymour, R Jackson (D Weir 77), C Cusiter (N Matawalu 61), R Grant (J Yanuyanutawa 78) D Hall (P MacArthur 50), J Welsh (M Low 61), J Gray, A Kellock (61), R Harley, C Fusaro (R Wilson 61), J Strauss.
Edinburgh Rugby: J Cuthbert, T Brown, M Scott, A Strauss (S Beard 50), T Visser, C Bezuidenhout, G Laidlaw, A Dickinson (W Blaauw 78), R Ford (J Hilterrand 78), W Nel, G Gilchrist, I Van Der Westhuizen (T Leonardi 50), M Coman (B Toolis 78), C Du Preez, D Denton.
Referee: M Raynal (France).