Tim Visser ended a six month injury exile but had no time from off the bench to influence a hugely disappointing Edinburgh Rugby performance in going down 22-29 to Cardiff Blues at Meggetland.
Out of action since breaking a leg on October 25 the Scotland winger was a late call up to the bench last night when Sam Hidalgo-Clyne dropped out and Sam Beard was promoted to the starting line-up.
However, coach Alan Solomons waited until Cardiff had the four-try bonus point sewn up before introducing Visser just before Cornell Du Preez notched a late consolation try to put a better reflection on the scoreline and contribute a scarcely deserved losing bonus point.
This was the seventh time in eight meetings that Edinburgh had failed to beat Cardiff and two factors rubbed salt in the wound. Firstly any hope of finishing in the top six and qualifying for the new European Champions Cup has now been extinguished.
Also, it was a reflection on Capital inadequacy that until last night Cardiff hadn’t won away from home in the league since last February when the opposition was – surprise, surprise – Edinburgh.
The inclusion of Visser must have been a pleasant surprise to the Edinburgh crowd whose only other thrills were the tries by Matt Scott, Tom Brown and – latterly – Du Preez whose touchdown was the seventh of the season and leaves him out in front of the team’s try charts, two ahead of Visser.
As Visser was settling in among the subs Cardiff opened with a penalty by Gareth Davies for not rolling away at a ruck.
Almost immediately Jack Cuthbert levelled after a high tackle but Edinburgh had a let off when Dan Fish failed to gather a wickedly bouncing ball close to their line.
Taking advantage, Edinburgh moved upfield and went ahead when centre Matt Scott burst through in broken play and covered 20 metres to score near the posts. Cuthbert converted for 10-3 after ten free-flowing minutes of action.
It was Scott’s second try in successive matches and slightly flattered Edinburgh and if there were any thoughts of kicking on they were quickly dashed.
Cardiff once again failed to control the ball over the Edinburgh line and amidst mounting pressure Kristian Dacey carried the ball into the shadow of the posts before releasing a pass which contributed to centre Cory Allen dummying his way over with two colleagues free outside.
Gareth Davies’ angled conversion levelled at the end of a lively opening quarter.
Things got worse for Edinburgh when the visitors opted against a penalty kick in front of the posts and set up a line-out platform from which second row Paulo Filo drove over.
Once again Davies added extras from a wide angle.
At least Dave Denton was showing plenty of willing for Edinburgh but an excess of kicking from hand threatened to be their undoing.
If the first half started badly for Edinburgh the restart was even worse as a quick exchange of passes between Corey Allen and Dan Fish saw the latter leave the Scots all at sea when going over in the corner. Davies again converted from an acute angle to leave Edinburgh staring up a mountain at 10-24 adrfit with 37 minutes still to play.
A spectator’s shout of “this is awful Edinburgh” captured the mood perfectly and perhaps contributed to a long awaited revival. Harry Leonard had a cut in midfield on the 22, Denton drove hard and from a ruck on the Cardiff line the ball was slipped to Tom Brown who dived over. Cuthbert converted.
Little more than huff and puff followed and there was a hint of desperation about removing the powerful Denton to be replaced by the slicker Roddy Grant on the hour.
It was Cardiff, without an away win in the league for 14 months and dating back to when they last visited Edinburgh, who continued to belie their lowly tenth place in the table by making all the running and only a couple of penalties kept them from a bonus point fourth try.
Edinburgh’s luck couldn’t hold and with six minutes remaining man-of-the-match Cory Allen sucked in defenders before slipping an pass to sub Dafydd Hewitt who crossed too far out for Davies to convert.
At least Edinburgh managed the last word when Du Preez barrelled over albeit Cuthbert’s conversion rebounded back into play. It was, however, too little, too late for a team who have now lost four times at home this season.
Edinburgh: Try - Scott, Brown, Du Preez. Conversions - Cuthbert (2).
Penalty - Cuthbert.
Cardiff: Tries, Allen, Paulo, Fish, Hewitt. Conversions - G Davies (3). Penalty - G Davies
Edinburgh: Cuthbert, Beard (Visser, 75), Scott, Strauss, Brown, Leonard (Bezuidenhout, 75), Hart (Kennedy, 63), Dickinson (Blaauw, 74), Ford (Hilterbrand, 65), Nel, Gilchrist, Van der Westhuizen (Atkins, 52), Coman (captain), Denton (Grant, 60), Du Preez. Sub not used: Berghan.
Cardiff: Fish, Cuthbert, Allen, Tuifua (Hewitt, 23), Czekaj, G Davies, Jones (Williams, 70), G Jenkins (captain), Dacey (Rees, 51), Filise (Andrews , 51), Reed (B Davies, 12), Paulo, Cook, Copeland, Navidi (E Jenkins., 75). Subs not used: T Davies, Andrews, Humberstone.
Referee: D Phillips (Ireland).
Discipline:- B Davies (Cardiff), 79.