Rugby: Bradley surveys wreckage of Edinburgh pre-season

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Edinburgh had new faces but, sadly, a plethora of old failings as they lost their final pre-season friendly by 54-3 against Northampton Saints in front of a Murrayfield crowd of 3207.

Saints’ line-up included the Samoan brothers George and Ken Pisi and taking their cue from these siblings the visitors made it easy-peasy with eight tries against hosts who looked as if they had just been introduced which – give or take a few months – was actually the case.

Capital coach Michael Bradley had no excuses, saying: “Saints were too strong on the day and came with their top-flight side. It was a harsh lesson; they were too powerful in all aspects.

“Defensively we had some issues but a bigger issue was that we didn’t put enough pressure on them in attack. On balance it has been a tough pre-season but our aim is to take the hurt from this and turn it into a positive next week.

“I’d like to thank the fans for staying because it was not easy to watch. I’m confident there are bigger and better things to come.”

Such was the embarrassment inflicted on Edinburgh that with mighty Munster due in town next Saturday Edinburgh have no time to waste in re-integrating their international contingent who have been held back after exertions on Scotland’s summer tour.

At least that offers come consolation because the newcomers in Edinburgh’s ranks were not just holding the fort but bedding into a new playing environment.

Most worrying was the way throws were squandered within yards of the Northampton line and the ball was treated on occasions as though it was radioactive. Penalties were also conceded with some abandon culminating in the sin-binning of James King for an off-the-ball 
challenge.

Lack of synch and continuity showed, too, at the scrum where the home pack were put through a torrid 80 minutes and not even changing the front row en-bloc after 61 minutes could alter the flow.

Only briefly did Edinburgh, who never looked like scoring a try, compete and that was when Gregor Hunter slotted an early penalty for 3-5. That penalty helped Edinburgh offset the loss of a sixth-minute unconverted try to Tom Wood on a four-man overlap and soon after Dimitri Basilaia retired injured to be replaced by Hamish Watson.

Richie Rees was doing his best to provide a spark from scrum half but there was another worrying element about the way Saone Tonga’uhai was able to slice through unopposed from a ruck for Saints’ second score.

With Ryan Lamb converting, Edinburgh needed to tidy some sloppy handling especially as both Sep Visser and Ben Atiga showed capabilities when the passes did stick.

Turning round 3-12 adrift Edinburgh were immediately on the back foot and it took an interception by Greg Tonks to relieve mounting pressure.

As Saints began turning the screw up front Edinburgh cracked and a scrum infringement led directly to a try from Phil Dowson on the opposite side of the pitch, Lamb converting. That should have acted as a wake-up call; in fact sluggishness in re-grouping contributed to Northampton claiming try No.4 when, from some flat passing, Dylan Hartley had a simple task to break the cover from ten metres out, Lamb notching his third conversion.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, James King was yellow-carded for tackling Vasily Artemyev without the ball as the pair contested a cross-kick in the build-up to a try by Martin Roberts, stretching round the side of a ruck for Stephen Myler to convert.

With ten minutes remaining Northampton produced the pick of their scores, an individual effort from winger Ken Pisi which Myler goaled for 3-40.

Next up was Ben Foden who outstripped the defence for a try as Edinburgh looked decidedly ragged to the point that many supporters had filed out by the time Ken Pisi notched his second try, Myler again converting.

After failing to score a try in defeat last week at Newcastle, too, things can only get better...

Scorers: Edinburgh: Penalty: Hunter. Northampton: Tries: Wood, Tonga’uiha, Dowson, Hartley. Roberts, K Pisi (2), Foden. Conversions: Lamb (3), Myler (5)

Edinburgh: Brown (Farndale, 67), Penn (Fife, 53), Tonks, Atiga (King,54), S Visser, Hunter, Rees (Leck, 40), Yapp (Niven, 61), Titterrell (Walker, 61), Nel (Hislop, 61), Parker, Turnbull, Cox (McAlpine, 59), Basilai (Watson, 10), Grant, captain. Subs not used: McAlpine, Houston.

Northampton: Foden, Artemyev, G Pisi, Waldouck, R Pisi, Lamb, Dickson, Tonga’uiha, Hartley, captain, Mujati, Manoa, Day, Dowson, van Veltz, Wood. Subs: Haywood, Walter, Doran Jones, Sorenson, Harrison, Roberts, Myler, Burrell, McMillan, Oakley, Wilson.

Referee: N Paterson (SRU)

Attendance: 3207