EDINBURGH back-rower Cornell du Preez is adamant Saturday’s performance which saw them slump to a third-straight Guinness PRO12 defeat was not an accurate reflection of the team’s abilities.
Alan Solomons’ team were edged out 16-14 by Munster to further undo the good work in which Edinburgh bagged four wins from four at the start of the season.
Du Preez said: “Our performances have dropped a wee bit. At Zebre we weren’t good. We did a bit better against Connacht and I think we are building some momentum going forward and we were unlucky not to win this one at the end.
“The first half was frustrating, there was a lot of balls that didn’t go to hand and they are opportunities we have to take if we are going to be a side that contends for top six.
“I think if we get things right and play the way we want to play we can be very dangerous. It’s just errors at crucial times that’s shooting us in the foot at the moment.”
It was, in truth, ragged stuff from Edinburgh as an uninspired Munster side were able to slink off with a narrow win which took the Irish province’s record to six wins from seven. The hosts on the other hand have now followed up their excellent start of four straight wins with three defeats on the bounce. A pattern which will have to be swiftly broken when the league resumes in two weeks.
In a tepid first half the home side’s work was riddled with basic errors. The half-back pairing of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Greig Tonks, who was in for the injured Phil Burleigh, misfired from the off and never got a grip on the game.
The lineout, with the inexperienced Alex Toolis making the calls, was always under pressure and passes across the field was at times woeful. With the Scotland front-row of Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel back in harness the set scrum was one area Edinburgh edged, although it did concede the two late penalties that nicked the game for Munster.
The Scots had grounds for grievance about a series of key decisions from Irish referee David Wilkinson but, ultimately, the search for blame when the squad gathers at BT Murrayfield for a depressing review today will have to start with the mirror.
Munster struck first with an early try by John Ryan but Hidalgo-Clyne’s two penalties to Ian Keatley’s conversion and a penalty meant it was only 10-6 to the visitors at the break.
Edinburgh enjoyed their best period of the game in the third quarter as Will Helu’s well-taken try and a Hidalgo-Clyne penalty – the scrum-half was unlucky to see his earlier conversion attempt hit the post – put them in a position to see out the game.
That penalty which made it 14-10 proved to be the only points Edinburgh managed across 20 minutes that Munster were a men down through a sin-binning in each half.
Wilkinson’s penalising of the Edinburgh scrum saw the pendulum swing towards Munster with two more penalties from Keatley and it looked like the game was petering out when young winger Damien Hoyland intercepted in his own 22 and took Edinburgh up the field. After a series of drives at the line, and with stand-off Tonks in the bin, Hidalgo-Clyne went for the drop goal but didn’t fall back deep enough and was charged down.
Solomons was a picture of frustration at the end and said: “Sammy did it because he thought he had an opportunity to win us the game. He has played fly-half before, though a few years ago, and he thought he could do it. But if we had just been patient and composed there was no need to go for a drop. We just had to hold onto the ball. If we had got a penalty, it would have been 17-16 and we would be having a different conversation now.”