Alan Solomons has told his players not to panic after Edinburgh made the worst possible start to their PRO12 season in south Wales.
Although they led mid-way through the first half courtesy of a try from Solomoni Rasolea and five points from the boot of a second debutant, Duncan Weir, they were soundly beaten 34-16 by an inspired Cardiff Blues’ outfit.
Still, Edinburgh coach Solomons remained upbeat ahead of Friday’s hosting Scarlets.
Although Wayne Pivac’s side also suffered an opening-day defeat, at the hands of Munster, Edinburgh will need to show significant improvement if they are to avoid a second successive reverse of the season.
Solomons said: “I watched the Scarlets game and they had all the ball in the first half, but couldn’t break Munster down.
“Munster scored a couple of quick tries to go into the shed at half-time a good few points up, which made a hell of a difference.
“Still, Scarlets are a very good side. We know that from experience. We will need to play a lot better when we go down there.
“That said, there’s no need to panic as the pack will pick up and improve a great deal, with more games. However, although it’s early in the season, we know we have to pick up considerably from Saturday.”
Both sides had been keen to showcase their new faces with Edinburgh fielding a new midfield trio of Glasgow stalwart Weir, Rasolea and Sasa Tofilau.
However, it was Cardiff’s recently signed outside half Steve Shingler who left the first indelible mark on a game that would eventually slip from Edinburgh’s grasp, after half time.
The 25-year-old former London Irish scored a try and, thereafter, landed a penalty and two first-half conversions. His second conversion, from in front, came after the home side had been awarded a penalty try in the 34th minute when Jamie Ritchie was yellow-carded for dragging down a rolling maul.
Thankfully, in between the Blues’ try brace, Australian Rasolea put the finishing touch to sustained pressure on the Blues’ line. It was an early indication of the power and finishing ability of the 25-year-old former Force and Perth Spirit centre.
Weir converted and added two penalties to leave Edinburgh trailing 17-13 at the interval. It was a far from unsatisfactory first 40 minutes, despite having to soak up heavy pressure from a Blues pack led by Nick Williams.
Sadly, that was where the encouraging signs came to a sudden halt. Thereafter, the hosts dominated with man-of-the match Williams imperious. Edinburgh struggled to cope, in all areas, and the Blues ran out comfortable winners to leave the visitors pointless as they contemplated the long journey home.
Solomons added: “We didn’t have enough ball, it’s as simple as that.
“They dominated both territory and possession and as we saw, you can’t play from deep inside your own half.
“I felt we also kicked away far too much ball and in the second half we paid a huge price for our errors. If we made a mistake or conceded a penalty, we found ourselves defending for long periods of time.
“In the end that pressure told and it was a tough second 40 minutes.
“It was hard to judge our backs because we had so little possession and we need to hold on to the ball more. That is certainly something we need to work on ahead of next week’s game.”
Further penalties from Shingler and Weir were the only third-quarter scores, before Williams crossed for a trademark try, from close range, 15 minutes from time.
Gareth Anscombe converted that and with the synthetic surface becoming ever more difficult with the heavy rain, scrum-half Tomos Williams nipped in to earn the bonus point, nine minutes from time.
Solomons will now have to assess injuries to Nasi Manu (ribs) and Nathan Fowles (arm) before naming his starting XV.
Weir might have kicked 11 points with the boot, but he was far from happy with the overall return. He said: “We didn’t adapt to the weather, we made unforced errors and at times, that killed us. The first 20 minutes were positive, but once the heavens opened, we weren’t smart enough.
“It was nice to kick a few goals, but the team’s score line is far more important.
“We’ll need to be better this week, but we are determined to put on a good performance and get the first win on board.
“The boys are hurting as it’s been a long pre-season and we had been focusing on this opening game.”
Cardiff Blues: D Fish (M Morgan 57); B Scully, C Allen, R Lee-Lo, T James; S Shingler (G Anscombe 51), T Williams (L Jones 73); R Gill (G Jenkins 51), K Myhill (K Dacey 43), T Filise (S Andrews 60), G Earle (J Down 63), M Cook, J Navidi, E Jenkins (capt), N Williams (C Dolan 73)
Edinburgh: G Bryce (B Kinghorn 77); R Scholes, S Tofilau (C Dean 68), S Rasolea, T Brown; D Weir, N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne 51); R Sutherland (J Cosgrove 60), R Ford (S McInally 51), WP Nel (S Berghan 63), F McKenzie (B Toolis 51), G Gilchrist (capt), J Ritchie, H Watson, N Manu (M Bradbury 37)
Referee: J Lacey (IRFU)