Despite seeing his team’s Champions Cup hopes all but disappear in Cork, Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons thinks his side are very close to making a breakthrough to join the elite teams in the Pro12.
A 27-19 defeat by Munster on Friday night leaves a five-point gap between his side and the sixth-placed Reds, which means a minor miracle is required to see his troops avoid the Challenge Cup next season.
A four-try win is needed against Cardiff this weekend, while Edinburgh also need Scarlets to turn over Munster at Thomond Park to qualify.
Sixth place looks to be beyond his side but Solomons says minor improvements will bring better results down the line.
“They’re just fine margins and at the moment we are jut falling on the other side of that margin, but it is just hard work that’s going to get us across the line there. We are not that far from it, it’s just small margins at the moment,” said the South African coach.
“But we’ve got to learn the lessons from Cork and I felt the breakdown work wasn’t good enough. I’ve got to look at it and I’ve got to be fair to the players and review it properly, look at the penalties and look at what went on there, but that certainly was the major factor in Friday’s game.
“There is no positive to take from the game. It was a game that both sides had to win and at 20-19 with five or six minutes to go, we had just mauled them 30 or 40 metres from their line, the game is ours to lose and we lost it.”
Like their last trip to Ireland – a seven-point defeat by Leinster – injuries played a key role in this defeat for Edinburgh. Munster’s first try after six minutes arrived when they were shorn of the concussed Blair Kinghorn and briefly down to 14 men, while an ill Tom Brown also had to be withdrawn.
“Quite rightly the medical team had to get him (Kinghorn) off but we couldn’t get Dougie (Fife) on to the field at the at point, so we were down to 14 men and they got a try with that,” said Solomons.
“Tom Brown, just before we went out on the field, said he wasn’t feeling right. We persevered, it’s unlike Tommy to miss an easy tackle down the left touchline which led to one of their tries.
“At half-time we just tried to get him help with supplements and stuff like that, but he just didn’t feel right. Neither of those things were of any benefit to us.”
Edinburgh’s scrum has been a dominant area of their game this year, and although Munster won all eight of their own scrums, Edinburgh certainly held the upper hand in that area.
The loss of prop Alasdair Dickinson to back injury could be a blow ahead of the visit of the Blues on Saturday though, but if he is absent Solomons has a solid deputy in the form of Rory Sutherland, who carried on the loose-head’s fine work.
“He (Dickinson) has a back (injury), that seems to be the problem, So we have got to look at that and see.
“But that’s going to happen at this stage of the season. Unfortunately we have had a lot of players that have had injuries, it’s just the way it is.”