There will be more than a few Edinburgh rugby players fearing for their futures this week after head coach Alan Solomons admitted that the six-try European hammering by London Irish exposed the club’s lack of strength in depth, writes Rob Cole.
The team that took the field against a side still seeking its first win in the Aviva Premiership had been good enough to win the opening four games in the Guinness Pro12, but it fell flat on its face at the Madejski.
While Solomons was furious at the number of system errors that gifted the Exiles a number of tries, and the lack of clinical finishing after four or five clear-cut scoring chances had been fashioned, arguably the worst statistics from the game were that Irish had bagged a bonus point by half-time and Edinburgh went 70 minutes without scoring.
“Our defence was the worst I have seen this season and our inability to finish was poor. We knew we had to rest players,” said Solomons. “We were under the impression that those who were coming were up to the job, but we were very poor and our strength in depth was found wanting. The only positive was that we created four or five chances to score, but then we didn’t take any of them.”
Two penalties from Greig Tonks gave Edinburgh a decent start at the Madejski Stadium, but they never recovered from shipping two tries in as many minutes to wing Andrew Selby soon after they had hit the front.
Fenby raced the length of the Edinburgh 22 for his first score to highlight the defensive frailties and fellow wing Alex Lewington did exactly the same when he spotted a gaping hole and ran 35 metres to the line for the third try.
Things went from bad to worse for Edinburgh when Tonks was shown a yellow card by Welsh referee Leighton Hodges. That allowed the Exiles to bag their bonus-point score with the final move of the half through centre Johnny Williams.
Thankfully for Solomons, he only had to witness two more tries in the second half as Fenby completed his hat-trick and the Fijian World Cup star Aseli Tikiortuma made it six tries from the home back division.
“There was too much soft defence, which isn’t like us. We have only conceded two tries in any other game this season and so to leak six tries is very disappointing,” said acting skipper Neil Cochrane.
“When you put in a performance like that you are eager to get to the next game to right a few wrongs. We need to learn from the mistakes and move on. The ability of the players is there, it is just the mental attitude that needs to improve. We had a great start to the season in the PRO12 and a good start to our European campaign. This is just a bump in the road.”