Edinburgh RUGBY, fielding a new-look side with debutants Dougie Fife and Ulises Gamboa, are still looking for their first Rabo Direct Pro 12 League win of the year after crashing to a 15-14 home defeat against Ospreys in front of a Murrayfield crowd of 3209.
But while the setback almost certainly signalled the end of Edinburgh’s hopes of reaching the top four and play-offs there was some satisfaction to be taken from the displays of the newcomers.
A disappointed Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley said: “We are bitterly disappointed with the result which is, of course, what matters in professional rugby. We played a lot of rugby but we just couldn’t get the decisive try in the second half.”
Plucked from the Currie side to stand in for Matt Scott, out injured, former Under-20 cap Fife celebrated with a first-half try on the way to man-of-the-match honours while 50th-minute substitute Gamboa, the eight-times capped Argentinian prop, immediately made his presence felt in the set-piece.
Ultimately, though, a couple of loose place kicks from the normally reliable Phil Godman cost Edinburgh dearly while the decisive try from Ospreys winger Eli Walker was the result of a comedy of errors by the home defence.
To claim his try national academy prospect Fife, now 21, got on to the end of a handling move in just 18 minutes showing a great appetite for work having gone to ground to secure possession on the opposite side of the pitch moments earlier.
So new to the set-up is Fife that his name is not yet listed on the official Edinburgh squad roster but he is no stranger to try-scoring having posted six for Currie in the current Premiership.
Fife, the latest in a string of up-and-comings to be introduced by Edinburgh had, however, to spend the opening 15 minutes on the back foot mainly mounting a rearguard along with the rest of his new colleagues as Ospreys pinned them back with penetrating kicks which occasionally went too far. There was a let off, too, when scrum half Chris Leck had a kick charged down and in a goal-line scramble James King was only just denied by the cover.
Eventually Edinburgh got their traditional up tempo off loading style in gear and they were rewarded by a penalty from Godman from his second kick at goal.
Then came Fife’s try in a period when the English ref was playing advantage for a handling infringement and it followed good work by Godman who was twice in a move also featuring Chris Paterson and Alun Walker. Ospreys hit back with a drop goal from Dan Biggar but last season’s top points scorer in the competition was surprisingly off target when a driven line-out ended with hooker Richard Hibbard going over for an equalising try.
However, Edinburgh had the last word immediately before the interval when Godman landed his second penalty.
Re-starting powerfully, Edinburgh worked the touchline through both second rows and captain Roddy Grant while this week’s signing Gamboa emerged and immediately helped destroy an Ospreys scrum.
Minutes later Godman extended Edinburgh’s lead to 14-8 but an opportunistic try was soon to rock the Scots.
A mix-up in midfield between Paterson and Visser allowed Walker into space and when the winger gathered his own kick ahead weak tackling provided a clear run to the posts and a conversion by Biggar ater 55 minutes.
Trailing for the first time Edinburgh should have bounced straight back but for a wayward penalty by Godman whose promotion to front-line kicking clearly signalled that the experienced Paterson was not yet fully over a groin strain which had hampered him earlier in the campaign.
Such profligacy was almost felt more acutely but Biggar surprisingly fired a penalty wide.
Stepping up the pace Edinburgh attacked down both flanks first through Fife then Tom Brown before Godman’s chip forced a knock-on five metres out from the Ospreys line.
However a scrum penalty cost hard-won yardage and that summed up another night of league woe while at the other end Paterson had to produce a fine mark on the retreat to hold out Ospreys.
There was to be no way back, however, and a feeling of deja vu spread over Murrayfield as another home time paid the penalty for failing to convert pressure into points with a losing bonus point very little consolation at this stage of the campaign.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Try: Fife. Penalties: Godman (3). Ospreys: Tries: Hibbard, Walker. Conversion: Biggar. Drop goal: Biggar.
Edinburgh: Paterson, Brown, Fife, Houston, Visser, Godman, Leck, Traynor, Walker, Gilding, Gilchrist, Cox, McInally, Talei, Grant (captain). Subs: Gamboa for Gilding (50), Lozada for Gilchrist (59), Kelly for Walker (64), Hislop for Traynor (77). Subs not used: MacDonald, Black, Hunter, S Visser.
Ospreys: Fussell, Walker, Isaacs, Bishop, Dirksen, Biggar, Fotuali, Jones, Hibbard, Rees, Gough, King, Smith, captain, Thomas, Lewis. Subs: A-W Jones for Gough (48 mins), Bevington for Jones (48), Webb for Fotualii (54), Bearman for King (64), Parker for Isaacs (66). Subs not used: Baldwin, Taylor, Morgan.
Referee: L Colgan (English RU).