The Scottish-qualified 25-year-old marked his second appearance for the club since arriving from Ulster in the summer with the opening score of a tense encounter, showing his eye for the line when he powered through a gap in the home defence. Emiliano Boffelli’s conversion gave the visitors a seven point lead that lasted only three minutes before former Edinburgh winger Kyle Rowe raced over, with Paddy Jackson’s conversion restoring parity.
An impressive finish by Ramiro Moyano, converted by Boffelli, plus a penalty from Jaco van der Walt – on for the injured Moyano – handed Edinburgh a 17-7 interval lead.
The hosts cut the gap with a converted Ollie Hoskins try before having hooker Agustin Creevy sent off for a head butt on Jamie Ritchie. And when van der Walt booted another three pointer inside the final 20 minutes, Edinburgh looked well placed to win.
However, the home side battled on and Olly Cracknell bagged a third try, leaving Jackson to land the conversion that snatched the 21-20 win.
“That was very tough for us obviously”, admitted McBurney. “We came here to get a win but I think as a group we’ll learn a lot from that. We’re still a group that’s growing and thankfully next week is another chance to get another bite at the cherry.
“Going into the next couple of games and later on in the season I think this game will actually stand us in very good stead because we will learn a lot of things. If we had won the game we would maybe brush it under the carpet and maybe not take those learnings. So as disappointing as it is to lose, the good thing is we can prepare for next week and another game in this pool to win and try to get through to the last 16 games.”
McBurney sees the changes to playing style implemented by coach Mike Blair as a work in progress, adding, “We’re obviously trying to build something here and play a different brand of rugby that we haven’t in the past. It doesn’t just happen overnight. It does take a bit of time and you aren’t just going to keep winning games comfortably.”
In the home camp, Rowe is relishing the chance to play regularly, and insists that the fact he was lining up against the side that released him last summer did not affect his approach to the match.
“I just went into it like any other game, same preparation as any other game. Obviously it was good to play against my old team and get the win but I didn’t feel different at all”, said the 23-year-old Scotland age group and sevens international.
He is a contender for Gregor Townsend’s Six Nations squad, but is not setting expectations, saying only: “I feel that I’m in good form. If it comes about that I’m in the training squad or whatever then class, but if not I’m pretty happy down here just taking every game as it comes and just doing what I’m doing.”