Richard Cockerill turns to Toulon after Edinburgh run Montpellier so close
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill admitted his side should have beaten Montpellier, but now cannot wait to take on Toulon at BT Murrayfield.
Edinburgh went down to a 21-15 Heineken Champions Cup defeat at the GGL Stadium, but had two tries ruled out by referee Wayne Barnes and held their hosts to a scoreless second half as they headed home with a losing-bonus point.
“My God, it is very frustrating because 100 per cent we should have won it. I’ve got nothing but credit for our lads,” said Cockerill, whose side face the second Top 14 club in the pool, three-times winners Toulon, in round two this weekend.
“We take a bonus point, it’s 4-1 in the first round and they’ve still got to come to us. Toulon won’t look forward to coming to us if we play like that.
“Now we’ve got to improve parts of our game and make sure when Toulon come to Murrayfield we put in that same type of performance.
“A little bit went against us in terms of the officiating. A scrum went round on their line, we scored and it was offside. Was it a scrum penalty back to us? Then there was a clear-cut opportunity with Magnus Bradbury in the hole, but Simon Berghan wanted to score and ran across him – that was the game – winning moment and you have to be cool and collected.
“We’ve got to learn from those experiences. The Edinburgh team has never had a real steel about it, but this one has. We’ve got some devil about us and we want to play and we want to win.”
Montpellier, coached by the former Scottish national coach Vern Cotter, scored three first half tries on the way to a victory, but it was Edinburgh who dominated the final 40 minutes.
Edinburgh crossed for a try in each half and would have won the game if Barnes not ruled out a Hamish Watson try at the posts for offside and another by Magnus Bradbury for obstruction.
In the end they had to settle for a losing bonus-point, although they had to scramble to keep hold of it after home skipper Louis Picamoles intercepted 30 metres out and almost reached the line for what would have been an extra point for the hosts.
Montpellier, currently sitting fourth in the Top 14 in France, tried to get their power game into action from the start by kicking penalties into the 22 for driving line-outs. They were thwarted at first, but then got the scoreboard moving in the sixth minute.
Another kick to the corner took them to within 15 metres before the driving line-out took them up to the line. The ball was then spread wide and Ruan Pienaar cut inside before popping the ball to full back Henry Immelman to finish off.
Pienaar added the conversion, but midway through the half Edinburgh hit back. It started with a brilliant offload by Fijian number eight Vili Mata and looked to have been scored by scrum half Henry Pyrgos, but when he was hauled down just short Stuart McInally was on hand to scoop up the loose ball and cross for a try that Simon Hickey converted. That try showed what the visitors could do, although it was two tries in four minutes from Montpellier that turned the game in their favour.
The first went to Benjamin Fall, as he powered through Blair Kinghorn and then Hickey to score from 30 metres out, while the second came from a turn-over in their own 22 which was turned into a try at the other end by flying wing Gabriel N’Gandebe as he gathered a cross-kick from Pienaar.
Hickey cut the gap on the stroke of half-time with a penalty and whatever Cockerill said to his troops in the break, it obviously hit home. Edinburgh totally dominated the second half and stopped the home side from adding to their score.
After Watson’s try had been ruled out with Bismarck du Plessis in the sin-bin, Dougie Fife crossed just short of the hour mark to make it a one score game. The wing went over in the left corner after a brilliant bust by Ben Toolis and a wonderful offload by Mata.
Had replacement prop Simon Berghan not collided with Bradbury two metres out from the line, and obstructed a tackler in the process, Edinburgh might well have gone home with the win.