Alan Solomons didn’t mince his words after this mis-match at the Madeski Stadium and confessed that his team were simply not up to it on the day.
Having been forced to rest the majority of his Scottish international players, Solomons was hoping this game would reveal just how talented and competitive his squad players are. They proved him wrong.
Back at the venue where they had beaten the Aviva Premiership side in last season’s Challenge Cup quarter final, they shipped six tries – four more than they have conceded in any other game to date this season.
“We were very poor and our strength in depth was found wanting. Our defence was the worst I have seen this season and our inability to finish was poor,” said Solomons.
“The only positive was that we created four or five chances to score, but then we didn’t take any of them. The first two tries we conceded were down to kicks out of our system and generally we were found wanting in an extremely unimpressive performance.”
It is going to be a tough few days at the office for the Edinburgh players at the beginning of the week, but the good thing is that with only a six day turn-around they can get this horror show out of their system pretty quickly if they can turn the result on its head at Murrayfield.
They will need to do so if they are going to carry on last season’s good form in Europe and push for another trip into the knock-out stage. This may have been only their first defeat in Pool 5, but if they lose another then they can probably kiss goodbye to a place in the last eight.
The Exiles may still be searching for their first win in their domestic league, but this was their second bonus point win in the Challenge Cup at the Madejski this season and they now head the Pool table by two points from Grenoble. They hold a three point advantage over Edinburgh.
The Scottish capital club came into the game with 11 changes from their narrow defeat in Ulster last weekend and despite taking an early lead through two penalties from Greig Tonks were never in the hunt. No sooner had they hit the front than they found themselves trailing to two tries in three minutes from the former Scarlets wing Andrew Fenby.
Fenby raced the length of the Edinburgh 22 for his first score immediately after the re-start following Tonks’ second penalty and then he squeezed over in the left corner for another try which Shane Geraghty converted off the touchline.
Once they had their noses in front the home side went for the jugular and they had bagged the bonus point by half-time. If the Fenby try had been bad enough for Solomons, the third try from right wing Alex Lewington would have hurt even more.
He spotted a hole in the visitors’ defence and simply pinned back his ears and raced 35 metres to the line without anyone getting near him. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Edinburgh, Tonks was shown a yellow card by referee Leighton Hodges.
He became the victim of the totting up procedure by the Welsh official as Edinburgh conceded penalty after penalty in their own 22. Just as Tonks was taking his seat in the dug-out, Scottish international flanker Blair Cowan played his part in working the ball wide to centre Johnny Williams, who touched down in the left corner.
Another superb Geraghty conversion meant the visitors were trailing by 20 points at the break. To their credit, the scoreline didn’t grow too much in the second half, although the fact they failed to add to their score meant they went 70 minutes without scoring.
Irish added two more back line tries through Fijian centre Aseli Tikiorotuma and Fenby, who bagged his hat-trick just in time to be named as the Heineken Man of the Match.
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: A Fenby 3, A Lewington, J Williams, A Tikiorotuma. Cons: S Geraghty 3, T Brophy Clews. Edinburgh: Pens: G Tonks 2.
London Irish: S Maitland; A Lewington, A Tikoirotuma (T Brophy Clews 65), J Williams (D Waldouck 57), A Fenby; S Geraghty, B McKibbin (D Allinson 71); T Court (T Smallbone 57), G Ellis (J Stevens 61), B Franks (L Halavatau 61), E Sheriff, J Sinclair (D Sisi 71), L Narraway (captain, B Cowan 35), C Gilsenan, O Treviranus.
Edinburgh: D Fife (B Kinghorn 74); T Brown (D Hoyland 52), M Allen, A Strauss, O Katoa; G Tonks, N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne 41); R Sutherland (G Shiells 71), N Cochrane (G Turner 61), J Andress (S Bergham 52), A Bresler, A Toolis, J Ritchie (M Bradbury 49), H Watson, C Du Preez.
Referee: L Hodges (WRU). Attendance: 3,959.