Edinburgh slumped to 10th position in the PRO12 after losing 27-19 to Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade – their sixth defeat in nine starts this season.
Despite taking an early lead and looking to have the necessary quality to upend the Welsh region, coach Duncan Hodge admitted his team hald lost their way at a crucial juncture.
“At times we were inaccurate and they put a lot of pressure on us at the breakdown. There were times where we should have pressurised them and didn’t.
“The 15 minutes before half-time we lost our way and tried to go wide too early. We conceded a couple of tries and then the second half was pretty scrappy.
“That was a setback for us because it was a game we were looking to win.
“There were definite signs in there and certain parts of our game were decent. However, we made mistakes and there was just too much inconsistency.
“Once again we have shown that we cannot string it together for the full 80 minutes. It is something we need to look at.
“I thought Magnus [Bradbury] stood out and Jamie Ritchie but it’s hard to pick out individuals.”
The Dragons certainly made it difficult for the visitors and Hodge paid tribute to the performance of Kingsley Jones’ team for whom that’s four successive wins on the bounce, albeit in three different competitions.
Hodge added: “They played well. They were physical and showed a lot of energy, from start to finish. I think they won a lot of collisions and we showed some naivety at the lineout for their first try. That was disappointing.”
The eventual outcome would have been pretty difficult to predict after the opening 10 minutes during which Edinburgh took the lead courtesy of Nasi Manu’s try.
The visitors stretched their hosts, first left and then right, before finding themselves with a five-on-two situation that former Dragons pivot Jason Tovey was able to exploit. His long pass provided the space for Ben Toolis and the outstanding lock sent in Manu for a try that Tovey converted.
A high tackle from Bradbury gifted the Dragons a penalty that Angus O’Brien converted, and when clean lineout ball for Edinburgh was somehow stolen, by hooker Rhys Thomas, the hosts transferred the ball along the line to where full back Carl Meyer collected and dashed in for a try that O’Brien converted.
The score gave a visible lift to the Dragons and, eight minutes later, loosehead prop Sam Hobbs muscled his way to the line and over for a try that O’Brien once again improved.
Thankfully, normal order was restored for Edinburgh 14 minutes from the interval when, following another series of drives, Chris Dean had enough power to hold off Meyer and force his way over the whitewash.
Unfortunately, turning over possession was proving to be Edinburgh’s downfall. When they did it again on half way, two minutes later, the Welsh region made them pay with a try that was finished with aplomb by the irrepressible O’Brien.
If the first half had been action packed, the second was littered with errors from players who were certainly beginning to tire on a sticky surface.
Both teams had their chances but neither looked like breaching the opposition line as they had before the break. Just as the two sides had enjoyed time and space in which to play before the break, it was the opposition defences that ruled the roost.
However, with 16 minutes remaining, Edinburgh were back in contention when replacement No.8 Viliame Mata crossed the line after a series of drives close to the Dragons’ line. Duncan Weir converted.
It should haven been the signal for Edinburgh to push on and not only win for the second time on the bounce but to end the side’s disappointing losing run away from home turf.
Sadly for Hodge and his team it was not to be and when O’Brien popped over a penalty with two minutes left, that was that.
Dragons: Tries: Meyer, Hobbs, O’Brien. Conversions: O’Brien (3). Penalties: O’Brien (2)
Edinburgh: Tries: Manu, Dean, Mata. Conversions: Tovey, Weir
Newport Gwent Dragons: C Meyer; P Howard, S Beard, J Dixon (T Morgan 53), A Hewitt; A O’Brien, T Knoyle (S Pretorius 53); S Hobbs (P Price 50), R Thomas (R Buckley 40), B Harris (L Fairbrother 66), N Crosswell, M Screech (J Thomas 41), L Evans, O Griffiths (N Cudd 61), E Jackson
Edinburgh: B Kingholm; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, M Allen (G Bryce 50); J Tovey (D Weir 53), S Kennedy (S Hidalgo-Clyne 53); J Cosgrove (K Whyte 65), N Cochrane (S McInally 40), M McCallum, F McKenzie (L Carmichael 75), B Toolis, M Bradbury, J Ritchie, N Manu (V Mata 53)
Referee: F Murphy (IRFU)