AFTER three home wins and victory away to Treviso to start their campaign, Edinburgh will be happy to return to familiar surroundings next weekend after consecutive defeats on the road.
Like Saturday’s winners Connacht, Edinburgh have enjoyed a lopsided home schedule due to the World Cup restrictions placed on the Welsh regions, but they need an immediate return to winning ways against Munster on Saturday if the good work of their first four games is not to be undone with three defeats on the bounce.
Injuries to Phil Burleigh and promising 18-year-old full-back Blair Kinghorn are a blow, but with their options set to be swelled by returning Scottish squad members, Alan Solomons will fancy his chances against a porous Munster defence of late.
With just two tries from their last three matches Edinburgh need to improve in attack, but they are likely to get more opportunities against a Munster side that conceded four against Ulster last time out, but even in defeat Solomons could spot positive notes from the Sportsground. “What the guys did well was, even right at the death, they took their chances but they worked their way up from their own try line to the ten metre line,” Solomons said.
“But bonus points are vital. Last week, we were disappointing but this week I felt we played much better. It’s always a difficult place to come out and play. The only thing that I am really disappointed with was the game against Zebre, where I honestly felt that we should have won that game. So far, I am not unhappy with where we are. But we have got a massive game against Munster next weekend.”
Solomons’ hand will be boosted by a likely return of World Cup stars David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, John Hardie and WP Nel, but just as his squad is expanded, he is hit by another couple of injuries.
“I can’t see Phil being available for selection. The calf has been worrying him, and now it seems like it is on another area,” said Solomons. “Blair, I can’t comment on, I have not spoken to him at all. It is his ankle. We will have to see what the extent of that injury is. Blair was playing very well. He got an excellent kick over, that great run down the right-hand touchline. His ankle wasn’t right. So obviously, those are two big losses for us.”
Ultimately Edinburgh’s lack of zest in attack cost them against Connacht as two penalties from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Kinghorn’s just before the interval was their sole reward.
An early try from Tiernan O’Halloran edged the game in Connacht’s favour, but Solomons pointed to a hefty penalty count as his side’s downfall.
“I think the big factor in the game was the penalty count,” said Solomons. “We had six penalties in the opening 27 minutes. The first eight points came from the concession of penalties.
“If you look at it, ten of the 13 penalties came from the breakdown. So we have to look very carefully at that.”