Edinburgh’s scrum finished second best, they lost a quarter of their own lineouts, conceded four tries, but coach Alan Solomons will take plenty of positives from a game that garnered little reward.
Munster took a bonus point win thanks to two tries in each half, but either side of that Edinburgh ran in five-pointers from Chris Dean and John Hardie. Once again, in the face of a heavy defeat, Edinburgh showed huge character and fought like demons until the final whistle.
The injury toll was significant though, with Duncan Weir almost certain to miss out on Friday’s trip to face Connacht after an ugly clash of heads with CJ Stander. In the space of a minute he twice denied the Irish international No 8 with try-saving tackles, but he came out second best with his second effort.
Issues at tighthead are just as worrying, with Kevin Bryce set for a long spell on the sidelines following an elbow injury. Bryce was replaced after five minutes at Thomond Park by Allan Dell, a loosehead by trade. Solomons praised Dell’s efforts in an unfamiliar position, but there was no denying Munster held the upper hand at scrum time.
And Rassie Erasmus’ side drove home that advantage with their two tries in the first half coming directly from their scrum dominance, while Dell was later sin-binned in the second half for consistent infringements.
If Edinburgh have Ross Ford and WP Nel available for the clash with the champions they will fancy a win on Irish soil, especially if the attitude of Saturday afternoon can be replicated.
“The heads never went down. We came back, we pulled up and had a chance to get a bonus point and that to me was the most pleasing feature,” said Solomons.
“Sadly in that second half we had two real bad slip tackles. Individual tackle errors of players. And that let them in for 14 points. But I thought in the circumstance of the yellow card and the problem that we had at tighthead today, I thought that was a gutsy performance.
“I thought our defence in the game against Leinster cost us the game. Today our defence was good. Yes there was two slipped tackles, but overall it was a very, very good defensive effort.”
The sizeable grunt of Anton Bresler and Grant Gilchrist was missed in the second row, their absence and Munster’s in-form set piece meant Edinburgh often travelled backwards.
Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, pictured, got the brunt of that just before half-time when an Edinburgh scrum back-pedalled close to their own line. In his first start of the season Hidalgo-Clyne then lost control of the ball as the scrum wheeled, which led to Conor Murray’s second try of the day.
It was a tough return to action for the Scotland No 9, but he thinks there will be better days ahead.
“It’s one of these things. What can you do really? You don’t want to throw it away. It is obviously unfortunate but we need to bounce back from that and have the mindset that we get down to their 22 and start scoring tries.”
If Weir is ruled out for the meeting with the champions – who have yet to register a point from three games – Hidalgo-Clyne could well take over the goal-kicking duties. At a notoriously difficult venue to kick for goal, the scrum-half is hoping the weather gods are kind.
“It’s not an easy place. It’s always windy there. Let’s just hope for sunshine. .
“We’ve got more depth this year which has been good for the squad. I think if we get on the front foot we have some seriously dangerous players. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to execute some of the plays today and we didn’t get over that try-line.”