Edinburgh win ‘heart-stopper’ to reach semi

“WHAT a heart-stopping game,” sighed Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons, after watching his side scooch into the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup, off the back of a 23-18 win away to London Irish last night.

Edinburgh players celebrate after repelling a late London Irish drive and progressing to the Challenge Cup semi-final. Picture: Ben Hoskins/Getty

“I’ve coached for a long time and I haven’t had many like that,” continued the Scouth African. “And, you know, those sorts of games can go one way or the other, and I thought the side showed tremendous character and tremendous commitment to come through that game. And to be honest with you, they absolutely deserve it.”

It was a game Edinburgh could have let slip, with Irish trying to drive over and score with the last play of the game, but Solomons’ side did their best to see out the result and book a home semi in the European competition against Newport Gwent Dragons. It was a result that Solomons insists may not have been possible just 12 months ago.

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“For me the big thing is, and Stevie (Scott, assistant coach) made the point, is in the past teams would have folded, but we held fast there and that’s a big thing. To come away with the win is massive and obviously we get a home semi-final at Murrayfield, which makes a huge difference. It was an interesting game because for the first 20 minutes we dominated, there was like a lull for 12, we got 16 points, but between the 32nd and the 52nd minute they (Irish) completely dominated. It was a total swing in the momentum of the game, which you have, and then we managed to get back in through Fraz (Fraser McKenzie) with that try and then we had that drama at the end.”

Flanker Roddy Grant, one of the few survivors from Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup semi in 2012, said: “It’s a huge win for the club. It would be awesome to get a trophy and it’s a huge end to the season. League performance is huge as well and I think they go hand in hand. If we keep going well in the cup it’ll continue into the league and vice versa. 
Winning is habitual and we’re starting to show that this season. I think old Edinburgh probably would have crumbled. In the past we didn’t deal well with momentum, and especially at half-time with that try there was a huge momentum shift but we got back in the game. For sure we’re pleased to hold on.”