After winning their opening four matches in the Pro 12, Edinburgh’s defeat last night by Munster consigned the capital club to their third consecutive loss, and they have only themselves to blame. With one try and three penalties each, the difference between the two teams was one conversion… and Edinburgh’s hit the post!
The home side conceded a soft try early on and barely got out of first gear in the opening half in which they managed no more than two penalties. They failed to keep hold of the ball and made far too many elementary mistakes.
Much improved after the break, Edinburgh scored a corker of a try with the best move of the match but having edged into the lead they failed to press home their advantage and allowed Munster two cheap penalties which were all they needed.
The match was just seven minutes old when Munster opened the scoring. A poor exit gave the Irish side high field position then Edinburgh fullback Blair Kinghorn slid into touch in goal when dealing with a clever grubber kick so the visitors had a five metres scrum. Two plays later Edinburgh’s defence failed to man up as Edinburgh’s twin centres were never going to stop prop forward John Ryan who dabbed down at the foot of the left hand post.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne knocked over two first-half penalties from rare sorties into Munster territory but almost all of the action took place inside the home half of the field and Ian Keatley also kicked a three-pointer on the half hour mark to ensure Munster kept their nose in front.
After that early hiccup, Edinburgh’s defence was solid enough and their line speed good but the Munster halfbacks, Keatley and Conor Murray, both proved adept at nudging the ball in behind Edinburgh’s rush defence and only a last ditch tackle by Tom Brown prevented Keith Earls for grabbing Munster’s second try from exactly that tactic.
Whenever the Scottish halfbacks tried the same thing they found a Munsterman with unerring accuracy.
With their Scotland front row restored to duty, Edinburgh bossed the set scrums all evening and made good ground with their lineout drives.
Inn a way this was role reversal from the Munster of old, but the home team were unable to keep hold of the ball for long enough to build any pressure or maintain territorial advantage. The home side simply made too many mistakes, many of them unforced, with passes going in all directions.
Whatever Alan Solomons said at half time seemed to do the trick because, after trailing 10-6 at the break, six minutes into the second 40 Edinburgh were in front for the first time after stringing together a sweeping move that went from one side of the field to other.
Cornell du Preez sent Damian Hoyland scorching up the right flank before the ball was moved quickly and accurately to Tom Brown on the opposite side of the field and the left winger popped the ball up for Will Helu, who had looped around him, for the Tongan to dive over in the corner.
Edinburgh were growing in confidence, helped by Keatley missing a long-range pot at goal and Munster’s indiscipline reducing them to 14 men for the second time, Francis Saili the culprit this time.
But just when it seemed as if the tide was turning, Ross Ford conceded a penalty in the shadow of his own posts and replacement prop John Andress conceded another just inside his own half and Keatley took full advantage. From being in command of this match, Edinburgh were now two points adrift which was how it stayed despite a late rally which saw Hidalgo-Clyne’s attempted drop goal deep in the clock’s red zone comfortably charged down.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn (D Fife 54); D Hoyland, W Helu, M Scott, T Brown; G Tonks, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel (J Andress 62), A Bresler, A Toolis, M Coman (N Manu 68), H Watson (R Grant 73), C Du Preez.
Munster: S Zebo; G van der Heever, K Earls, F Saili, R O’Mahony; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, D Casey, J Ryan (J Cronin 70), D Ryan, D Foley, D O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue (Coghlan 62), CJ Stander.
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU). Attendance: 4,981.