Jack Cuthbert labelled Edinburgh Rugby’s 16-20 Murrayfield defeat by Glasgow Warriors “one that got away” before revealing why the loss cut particularly deep.
“We played a lot of rugby, all the rugby really, and are massively disappointed,” said full back Cuthbert who, neverthless, was able to build on recent strong individual displays.
However, that counted for nothing with the once capped Scotland star as he reflected on a match where Dougie Fife had Edinburgh’s try converted by Laidlaw, who also kicked three penalties.
“We had the ascendancy in the first half but then after little moments where we relieved bits of pressure suddenly they were back in our half.”
Referring to the winning try, by Stuart Hogg, with 12 minutes remaining, Cuthbert said:
“They turned our ball over and that was the game.
“There were positives such as attacking well and the game was close, certainly an improvement on last year.
“We even had the opportunity to see it off in first half.
“However, a lot of factors saw Glasgow through to the end.”
Was one of these factors connected to the Warriors having last week off due to a waterlogged pitch whereas Edinburgh were in action against Leinster?
“It is hard to speculate that (defeat) was because they had a week off. What Glasgow brought was what we were ready for. Their work rate lasted the whole 80 minutes and they contested the breakdown fiercely.
“That is what saw them through; we gave them a turn over in midfield and that is the sort of thing Glasgow feed on.”
Until then it seemed Edinburgh would go through a second successive match without having their try-line crossed.
“A lot of people are giving their all and from week to week we are growing as a side,” added Cuthbert. “There are a lot of young guys and we are starting to build relationships within our squad which hopefully we will show in the return leg next Wednesday at Scotstoun.”
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons also highlighted the breakdown area as crucial but was left defending a policy of restricted substitutions in the wake of the more hectic build-up.
Leading 16-9 at the interval Edinburgh failed to score another point. Ultimately this Glasgow freshness seemed to count with the situation appearing compounded by the fact Edinburgh left five of their eight subs unused while Mike Coman had only a few minutes in a cameo role.
“What happened was the breakdown and I don’t think it had anything to do with the bench. They got the upper hand at the breakdown when (Josh) Strauss came on,” said the 63-year-old South African.
While not inclined to point any fingers Solomons, clearly, felt there might be grounds to believe that Strauss’s 42nd minute arrival meant rules could have been bent.
“I will have to see what it is (that caused Edinburgh to lose their way at the breakdown). I don’t want to comment until I have a chance to dissect every single breakdown in the second half,” he said.
Where the coach was more forthright was when insisting the game turned on a single incident in the lead up to Glasgow’s try which augmented five Duncan Weir penalties.
“It was very disappointing because it was a game we could and should have won. We were certainly on top in the first half. It was just some penalties that cost us field position.
“In the second half there was an error as we took a beautiful ball from a line-out then made ten yards over gain line before losing the ball and that led to their try. It was a try apiece and they took their chance as our defence was at sixes and sevens.
“Fair play to them but we did enough to win that game.”
After recent wins over Gloucester and Leinster this was a significant step back for Edinburgh with their misery added to by the fact injuries meant Glasgow had to move No. 8 Ryan Wilson to centre.
Still Edinburgh couldn’t capitalise albeit they came particularly close when Cornell Du Preez lost the ball in the act of “scoring” with Wilson being credited with knocking possession from his grasp.
At least the Edinburgh pack distinguished themselves by almost jogging the visiting eight back towards their line on a couple of occasions and they were nothing if not combative in using a 10lb per man weight advantage. At times, too, they stood toe-to-toe with Glasgow although there was an element of face about the yellow carding of Tom Brown and Stuart Hogg when the latter seemed to have been accidentally knocked over an advertising hoarding before retaliating.
The sin binning of Tyrone Holmes for tackling an opponent without the ball appeared much more cynical, by comparison. It was certainly a contest with a distinct edge and when Greg Tonks and Nick De Luca set up Jack Cuthbert to put Dougie Fife over with an inside pass Edinburgh seemed set to kick off from 10-6.
As penalties flowed Edinburgh still seemed in control right up to when they were caught with the sucker punch that saw DTH van der Merwe kick ahead and Stuart Hogg win a race for the touchdown.
Edinburgh had little to give in response but they do have six days to recharge batteries and overturn the four point deficit to lift the 1872 Cup.
And bearing in mind what happened recently against Gloucester they do have form when it comes to dramatically transforming fortunes within the space of a week or less.
Hopefully lightning can strike twice but what is the point in having subs while apparently lacking belief in their ability? It is a moot point that Glasgow emptied their entire bench in claiming the spoils.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Try: Fife. Conversion: Laidlaw. Penalties: Laidlaw (3) Glasgow: Try : Hogg. Pens: Weir (5)
Edinburgh: Cuthbert, Fife, De Luca, Atiga, Brown (Beard, 45), Tonks, Laidlaw (captain), Blaauw, Ford, Nel, Gilchrist, Atkins (Van der Westhuizen, 74), Du Preez, Denton, Grant (Coman, 59-64). Subs not used: Luti, Allan, Cross, Hart, Fenner.
Glasgow: Maitland, Seymour (Jackson, 27, Strauss, 42), Hogg, Dunbar, Van der Merwe, Weir, Cusiter (captain) (Pyrgos, 66), Grant (Reid, 74), MacArthur (Hall, 47) Welsh, (Low, 47), Swinson (Nakarawa, 58), Ryder, Harley, Wilson, Holmes (Fusaro, 58).
Referee: N Paterson (SRU)
Yellow cards: Edinburgh: Brown; Glasgow: Hogg, Holmes.