FOR Alan Solomons, Saturday night’s 34-3 defeat to Munster may have seemed like a case of ‘two steps forward and one step back’ as his Edinburgh side fell to a second consecutive home loss in the Guinness PRO12 at BT Murrayfield.
The home side had come into the match in fine fettle after their European Challenge Cup quarter final victory over London Irish last week, but were blown away by a considerable Irish pack who comprehensively secured the bonus point.
Solomons – while giving deserved credit to the Munster side – bemoaned the lack of strength in depth of his Edinburgh squad and maintained that the latest injury toll may have been a contributing factor in the final result.
“I think when Denton went off, it made a massive difference to us. We ended up with three openside flankers playing, and that was huge,” a frustrated Solomons said post match.
“We had no lineout presence, we couldn’t contest theirs and we battled to stem their maul. They scored three of their tries from the maul and they scored two tries when we were down a man to a yellow card.”
“We don’t have that kind of strength in depth [as Munster possess] so when we have six players out, that is massive.”
“Having said that, take nothing away from Munster, because I thought they played really well tonight,” Solomons said.
Edinburgh’s chances in the match had already sustained a major blow when Number 8 David Denton left the field after 12 minutes with a head knock. But as Solomons admitted after, one loss did little to prevent the inevitable Munster dominance.
“We were under pressure the whole time because we lacked possession and territory and we made silly mistakes which cost us. Tonight was very difficult for our lineout because we were left with two lineout forwards,” said Solomons.
“But the truth is that they dominated territory and possession tonight and the difference is that we need to be at full strength to be able to compete with these sides.”
A shining light for Edinburgh in an otherwise inferior performance was flanker Hamish Watson. The 23-year-old back row was one of the very few Edinburgh players to compete admirably with his opposite number [Tommy O’Donnell]. According to Watson, Munster’s physicality was the determining area in the heavy defeat.
“The first 10 minutes we obviously dominated the game, but then for large amounts of time in the game we weren’t physically good enough and they out muscled us,” Watson said.
“When our set piece is working and we’re playing well, we physically dominate and it’s very hard for the other team, and they dominated the set piece tonight.”
“The pack defending the maul obviously had an off-day but it’s not a concern. We’ve got one of the best mauls in the league.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s crunch semi final encounter against Newport Gwent Dragons, both Watson and Solomons – while admitting careful analysis is required – remain unperturbed at the recent loss.
“We’ll have some questions asked on Monday but after that, it’s concentration on the Challenge Cup and then it’s all about that.”
Solomons added, “Yes we were compromised by the number of players that we had out, by going down to 14 men and losing Denton in the 12th minute, but it doesn’t make any difference to next week.”
“We know we have to lift our performance for next week. For those on the field, we didn’t do justice to ourselves tonight.”
Image: Edinburgh Rugby (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CCdpWxCWMAAY7qa.jpg:large)