If Edinburgh fans are searching for a silver lining after Friday’s fall from grace against Ulster then at least their team will go into the final game of the regular season against Glasgow without a hint of complacency.
They were terrible from start to finish with the four tries to one an accurate indication of the strength of the two teams on the night. Even Edinburgh’s much-vaunted set scrum took a pounding in one second-half incident that will have the front-row union hiding during Monday’s video review.
There were any number of questions for the players and coaches after losing so badly in one of the biggest matches of their season, but the main one revolved around consistency.
How on earth can a side that beat Toulon and Montpellier on the same ground with plenty to spare, find themselves squeezed to the margins by a good, but far from great, Ulster team?
“We have to get consistency,” said coach Richard Cockerill without offering any clue as to how this might happen. “The boys have to back up their games week on week.
“We have got up for big games and played well in certain games this year and we just have to learn to do it every time we play. Clearly tonight, for whatever reason, from start to finish we didn’t control the game, we didn’t do what we said we were going to do going into the game and Ulster are too good to let you off the hook.
“We have had some games we have played well in and some games like tonight we were poor, there is no getting away from it.”
Mark Bennett was unable to shed any further light on Edinburgh’s curious rollercoaster ride. The centre is still feeling his way back into the game after that long lay-off with an injured hamstring and Edinburgh won those big European games with the uncapped, unheralded duo of James Johnstone and Chris Dean in harness, rather than the capped pairing of Bennett and Matt Scott who played on Friday.
Chris Dean should be available for the Glasgow game so the coach has a big call to make.
Bennett made several try-saving tackles, notably one second-half effort on Jacob Stockdale in full flight, to keep the score respectable because this wasn’t a contest of equals. But both he and Scott were blowing hard well before the end of the match and will be better with time in the saddle, not that Cockerill was hiding from the truth.
“There are some guys on the field who have not had a great amount of game time but no excuses. It is a poor result and we have to improve and chip away at improving the mentality of the squad.”
The coach insisted that Edinburgh had a “relatively light” week ahead of Ulster and would get time off next week before starting preparations for Glasgow in earnest.
“We will have a couple of days off, then will come back in and review. We have got to dust ourselves off. We have a big game at Glasgow. We want to qualify for Europe and be back on the big stage but we need to earn the right to do that.
“It was not just tonight, there were other games we let ourselves down, especially during international windows when we should have done better.
“Ultimately you get what you deserve. We are still a team that needs to learn and be more consistent and work harder at our game and develop as a team.”