ALAN SOLOMONS was left to lament another missed opportunity after Edinburgh went down to a narrow Pro12 defeat to Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Having trailed 14-0 at half time, the visitors came within an ace of pinching a win at the end. It was another decent effort that was not lost on the Edinburgh coach. However, Solomons believes it was Edinburgh who lost the game rather than the Blues who won it.
“For the second week in a row, we should have won, but we have to take the blame for losing,” said Solomons.
“We should have gone in only 7-3 down at half-time as we missed a simple penalty and conceded a soft try just before the interval.
“It’s an opportunity thrown away, we should have come away with four points not one, but at times we weren’t patient or composed enough. We had plenty of time in that second half to build pressure so it’s very disappointing.
“The loss makes it very tough for us to push for a top six place. This part of the season, when the Six Nations is on, is always a very difficult one and Treviso is a tough place to go.
“However, we hope to have our five players back, who were on the Scotland bench, but we have to accept that the national side is the priority.”
After a relatively uneventful start, the Welsh region took the lead in the 18th minute. A driven line out took the hosts close to the line and former Wales scrum half Lloyd Williams dummied his way over for outside half Rhys Patchell to convert.
Edinburgh found themselves with a numerical advantage eight minutes later when the Blues No.8 Manoa Vosawai was penalised and duly sent to the bin by referee Dudley Phillips for a high tackle on Jade Te Rure, who inexplicably missed the ensuing penalty in front of the posts.
However, before Vosawai had returned, the numbers were level – captain Mike Coman was given 10 minutes in the cooler by Mr Phillips.
The Blues were celebrating a second try five minutes before the interval – or so they believed. Fortunately for Edinburgh, Josh Turnbull’s pass to Ellis Jenkins was a yard forward and the try, eventually scored by Gavin Evans, was rightly chalked off.
Although Edinburgh were combative at the set piece, they struggled against the Blues’ off-loading game and conceded a second try, moments after Vosawai returned from his ten minutes in the bin. The hosts pieced together a sublime move in the final moments of the half and Jenkins applied the finishing touch. Patchell converted.
Edinburgh sprung into life immediately after the interval, and when Cardiff collapsed a scrum inside their own 22, half-time replacement Tom Heathcote registered his side’s first points from close in. Buoyed by that, they increased the tempo and played their best rugby of the game. Dave Denton, back in harness after tearing a calf muscle whilst on Scotland duty last month, was outstanding and responsible for guiding his side back into the game.
When he turned over Cardiff ball 30 metres out, Edinburgh took the ball to the line and were eventually denied a try when Neil Cochrane was held up just short. However, 90 seconds later Heathcote’s measured pass to Tim Visser saw the giant wing nip through a hole in the Blues’ midfield and touch down for his outside half to convert.
Cardiff appeared to have settled the game when Patchell converted his own try in the corner, 16 minutes from the end, but after Turnbull had been yellow-carded, Roddy Grant was driven over from a line out to bring Edinburgh back to within six points.
With Heathcote having left, Jack Cuthbert took over the kicking duties, but dragged his kick wide.
Edinburgh’s hopes suffered another blow three minutes from time when Dougie Fife became the fourth player yellow-carded for dangerous play at a ruck on half way. However, the visitors still had opportunities in the closing moments before finally losing possession and watching in frustration as the Blues, for the final time, cleared their lines.
Solomons said of Heathcote’s introduction at half time: “It was a strong wind out there and we wanted to make use of Tommy’s kicking in the second half. It’s a pity he had to go off as he had rolled his ankle.
“At 14-10 the game was ours for the taking but we let them out of our half to concede that vital third try, which was the only time they were in our half after the interval.”
Cardiff: Tries: Williams, Jenkins, Patchell. Conversions: Patchell (3).
Edinburgh: Tries: Visser, Grant. Conversion: Heathcote. Penalty: Heathcote.
Cardiff Blues: J Tuculet; R Smith, C Allen (A Thomas 53; G Davies 54), G Evans, T Isaacs; R Patchell, L Williams; S Hobbs, M Rees (K Dacey 61), A Jones (T Filise 43), F Paulo (L Reed 53), J Hoeata, J Turnbull, E Jenkins, M Vosawai (M Cook 61). Replacements: T Davies, T Knoyle.
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; D Fife, S Beard, P Burleigh (N Fowles 72), T Visser; J Te Rure (T Heathcote 40; A Strauss 65), G Hart; R Sutherland, N Cochrane (S McInally 56), WP Nel (J Andress 77), O Atkins, A Bresler (F McKenzie 56), M Coman, R Grant (H Blake 76), D Denton. Replacements: G Shiells.
Referee: D Phillips (IRU)