Edinburgh Rugby coach Alan Solomons gave a damning verdict on his side’s six-try, 38-6 European hammering by London Irish, but there was an equally honest assessment of an abysmal performance from the players.
The coaching staff will get their chance to debrief the players in what promises to be a pretty sombre training session today, but maybe not all is lost.
After all, this is just one defeat in Pool 5 of the Challenge Cup and they marched into the quarter-finals last season after losing in Lyon. But if Edinburgh are to stay on course for another trip into the last eight, they must beat the Aviva Premiership side at Murrayfield on Friday night.
One thing is certain, after Solomons has had his say, and the players have completed their soul-searching, a better performance is more or less guaranteed. For not only will it be the club’s European future on the line, player contracts this summer, many now hanging by the thinnest of threads, will also be in the balance.
“We are all bitterly disappointed with the result. It was always going to be an uphill battle after leaking four fairly soft tries in the first half, but there are no excuses,” said skipper Neil Cochrane.
“As players we have to go away and take a long, hard look at ourselves because that performance wasn’t good enough. All week we had been talking about this being an excellent opportunity for some of the fringe players to stake a claim – now that chance has come and gone and a lot of the boys haven’t put up their hand.
“It was quite a sombre changing-room. We need to look at ourselves individually, pick ourselves up and move on collectively as a team.”
Two penalties from Greig Tonks gave Edinburgh a decent start, but they never recovered from shipping two tries in as many minutes to wing Andre Fenby soon after they had hit the front.
Fenby raced the length of the Edinburgh 22 for his first score to highlight the defensive frailties and fellow wing Alex Lewington did exactly the same when he spotted a gaping hole and ran 35 metres to the line for the third try.
Things simply went from bad to worse for Edinburgh in a first-half to forget. Tonks became the victim of the totting-up procedure adopted by Welsh referee Leighton Hodges as the full-back was given a yellow card for persistent infringement in front of his posts and then the Exiles bagged their bonus point score with the final move of the half through centre Johnny Williams. Shane Geraghty’s second touchline conversion merely rubbed salt to the wound.
“There was too much soft defence, which isn’t like us,” added Cochrane. “We usually pride ourselves on our defence. We have only conceded two tries in any other game this season and so to leak six tries is very disappointing.”
“It’s down to taking care of your individual role as a player and looking after the small detail. It’s about the top two inches – getting the attitude right.”
If you were looking for positives, then the fact Irish only scored two more tries in the second half could be one. But then you have to balance that with the fact that Edinburgh failed to add to their two penalties.
To their credit, the score didn’t grow too much in the second half. Fenby completed his hat-trick and the Fijian centre Asaeli Tikoirotuma made it six tries from the backline; although the fact they failed to add to their tally meant they went 70 minutes without scoring.
London Irish: Tries: A Fenby (3), A Lewington, J Williams, A Tikiorotuma. Cons: S Geraghty (3), T Brophy-Clews
Edinburgh: Pens: G Tonks (2)
London Irish: S Maitland; A Lewington, A Tikoirotuma (T Brophy-Clews 65), J Williams (D Waldouck 57), A Fenby; S Geraghty, B McKibbin (D Allinson 71); T Court (T Smallbone 57), G Ellis (J Stevens 61), B Franks (L Halavatau 61), E Sheriff, J Sinclair (D Sisi 71), L Narraway (c) (B Cowan 35), C Gilsenan, O Treviranus
Edinburgh: D Fife (B Kinghorn 74); T Brown (D Hoyland 52), M Allen, A Strauss, O Katoa; G Tonks, N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne 41); R Sutherland (G Shiells 71), N Cochrane (c) (G Turner 61), J Andress (S Bergham 52), A Bresler, A Toolis, J Ritchie (M Bradbury 49), H Watson, C Du Preez
Referee: L Hodges (WRU)