Edinburgh suffer a fourth straight loss as Ospreys win in the Murrayfield rain
Edinburgh served up a performance as miserable as the weather as they lost 25-10 to Ospreys in their opening match of the 2020-21 Guinness Pro14 campaign on a rain-lashed night at BT Murrayfield.
After the promise of a Covid-19 disrupted 2019-20 season in which they made the semi-finals, this meek loss to the Welsh side marked a fourth defeat on the trot, three of which were at home, which leaves head coach Richard Cockerill with some work to do rebuilding stalled momentum.
Edinburgh had lost to Ulster at home in the Pro14 last four and then away to Bordeaux-Begles in the European Challenge Cup while their opponents had a month off to prepare for this one. In dismal conditions the home side were never at the races and well beaten in the end as Ospreys wing Mat Protheroe claimed two tries.
Of course, a lot has changed since Cockerill’s side were on a roll pre-lockdown.
Coronavirus is a dominant issue and hard to block out in empty stadiums and amid disruptive restrictions and protocols. Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie was ruled out in the lead up to this match as he isolates following a low-risk potential exposure to the virus. It is the same for all, though, and Edinburgh will have to adapt fast to rebuild confidence which seems to have been knocked by the recent run of losses.
The weather was awful and there was no surprise that the opening exchanges were sloppy. Even the reliable right boot of Edinburgh’s stand-off Jaco van der Walt, pictured, malfunctioned twice as he failed to find touch.
Ospreys are four-time champions of the competition and were up against the Conference B table toppers from last season.
The Welsh side have been in some turmoil and managed only two home wins last term but boast some big-name Lions, including Alun Wyn Jones, Rhys Webb and the skipper Justin Tipuric, who handed the hosts an early advantage when his blatant deliberate knock-on saw Irish referee Andrew Brace brandish the yellow card and award a penalty try.
Wing Jamie Farndale made a sharp break and found Chris Dean with a well-judged pass before the attempt to feed inside to an onrushing Mark Bennett was illegally stopped.
That seven-point lead was soon wiped after Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist was also sent to the bin for a tip tackle as Ospreys countered and eventually forced their way over with loosehead Nicky Smith the scorer and Stephen Myler converting.
Ospreys struck again in the 25th minute after both Tipuric and Gilchrist returned to the fray as Myler nailed a well-struck, long-range penalty in conditions that were sodden but relatively windless to make it 10-7 to the visitors.
It was hardly classic fare but the weather-affected looseness of proceedings meant scoring opportunities were not lacking. Edinburgh spurned another as Van der Walt was wayward again with a penalty and they were made to pay as Ospreys cut them open in the 32nd minute.
Centre Kieran Williams hit a perfect line and left the Edinburgh defence flat-footed to feed Protheroe in under the posts for an excellent try. Myler quickly followed up his conversion with another solid penalty and the rattled home side were suddenly facing a mountain to climb at 20-7 down.
Van der Walt finally found his kicking boot with the last kick of the half to scrape back three points but Edinburgh trooped in at half-time knowing they could have no complaints about the scoreline and braced for some harsh words from Cockerill.
They clearly didn’t have the desired effect as the Welsh made camp in the home 22 and broke through again down the left as Protheroe sprinted over for his second leaving Edinburgh facing a damage limitation operation entering the final quarter.
No further change to the scoreline was all the home side could take from a low-key last 20 minutes which Ospreys closed out comfortably.
SCORERS: Edinburgh: Try: Penalty try. Pen: Van der Walt
Ospreys: Tries: Protheroe 2, Smith. Cons: Myler 2. Pens: Myler 2.
EDINBURGH: D Hoyland; D Graham, M Bennett, C Dean, J Farndale; J Van der Walt, C Shiel; P Schoeman, S McInally, S Berghan, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, L Crosbie, N Haining. Subs: D Cherry, J Bhatti (for Schoeman 62), WP Nel (for Berghan 55), A Davidson (for Bradbury 18), H Watson (for Crosbie 2), D Nutton (for Shiel 59), N Chamberlain (for Van der Walt 71), G Taylor (for Dean 55).OSPREYS: D Evans; M Protheroe, O Watkin, K Williams, L Morgan; S Myler, R Webb; N Smith, S Parry, T Botha, A Beard, A Wyn Jones, O Cracknell, J Tipuric, M Morris. Subs: D Lake (for Parry 76), R Jones (for Smith 55), M Fia (for Botha 55), B Davies (for Beard 62), D Lydiate (for Cracknell 62), R Morgan-Williams (for Webb 76), J Thomas (for Myler 79), T Thomas-Wheeler (for WIlliams 76).
Referee: A Brace (Ire)
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