Alan Solomons was left reeling as Edinburgh crashed to a six-try demolition at the hands of Ospreys.
The new coach must have known he had a challenge on his hands to turn around this team’s fortunes following last year’s woes. But he now knows the true scale of the job after the worst moment of his, as yet, brief spell at Murrayfield.
Edinburgh failed to convince in their opening two games of the season under their new coach. But even allowing for some borderline decisions by Italian referee Marius Mitrea, this was a humbling experience.
Tim Visser scored his 50th league try but even that was a token gesture as the Ospreys ran riot – even scoring two tries while reduced to 14 men.
Solomons said: “There was one simple reason why we struggled and that was the massive number of mistakes we made. We made 34 errors in the game and that is far, far too many in professional rugby, especially against a well-drilled and experienced team like Ospreys.
“You can’t take anything away from the way Ospreys played but we made a rod from our own back with the mistakes. No one is questioning the commitment or resolve shown by the players. But our kick execution was poor, our aerial skills were poor, passing and handling skills were poor. The only thing we can do is keep working at it because that is not going to change overnight.”
Edinburgh looked out of sorts from the opening exchanges against a side able to recall four Lions forwards.
Roddy Grant had demanded a quick start at Swansea, having taken over the captain’s armband from rested hooker Ross Ford.
Instead, Edinburgh found themselves trailing by seven points inside three minutes.
Greig Tonks acted as the sweeper in defence but that merely delayed the Ospreys opening try.
Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones set up a powerful drive from a lineout five metres out but Edinburgh’s half-backs Sean Kennedy and Harrry Leonard were still guilty of a half-hearted attempt to stop Jeffrey Hassler – not the biggest wing in the world at 5ft 10ins – from surging through.
Solomons had made only two changes to the side that squeezed past Newport Gwent Dragons, with front-rows Geoff Cross and Aleki Lutui starting for the first time.
But they were soon under immense pressure as Adam Jones flexed his considerable bulk to take the opening scrum against the head and snuff out an early opportunity for Edinburgh.
Dan Bigger handed Edinburgh a bigger task with a further two penalties though the visitors did little to trouble their hosts.
Passes went astray, possession fumbled and they failed to make the most of their clear size advantage out wide where the giant wing pairing of Visser and former Osprey Nikki Walker towered over their diminutive opposite numbers. It was not until Leonard struck a penalty eight minutes before half time that Edinburgh finally registered on the scoreboard.
Having started the first half in fifth gear, Ospreys began the second in similar fashion to secure a bonus point after 52 minutes with a Hibbard’s brace, either side of Visser’s token effort.
Ashley Beck and Eli Walker failed to capitalise on Fussell’s ambitious break but from the resulting lineout, Ian Evans showed composure in the midst of a lineout to spot Hibbard unmarked to receive the return pass and score in the corner.
Edinburgh belatedly showed their potential as Kennedy brought Visser, left, storming through and power-packed Scotland wing brushed past three defenders for the 55th try of his remarkable career.
However, the game exploded into life in the 50th minute when Tipuric’s tip-tackle on Kennedy sparked a prolonged brawl. Tipuric was binned for the tackle that left Kennedy requiring treatment. However others, including Ediburgh’s Georgian flanker Dimitri Basilaia, were fortunate not to suffer the same for what followed. Yet despite the numerical advantage, Edinburgh not only failed to make it count but conceded a further 14 points to 14 men.
Hibbard grabbed his second from close range while Edinburgh afforded Ospreys’ backs far too much space – and their opponents revelled.
Fussell had the awareness to spot an opportunity and his kick enabled Eli Walker to speed past namesake and predecessor Nikki. The bounce was kind and the youngster had his second try on 55 minutes to end the game as a contest.
Edinburgh threw caution to the wind in the final stages but were caught with a sucker punch at the end when Matthew Morgan ran almost the length of the field to score and hammer the nail in Edinburgh’s coffin.