Mike Blair proud of Edinburgh performance against Stormers in Cape Town but left to rue two key moments

Mike Blair expressed pride at his players’ efforts but was left to rue a couple of sloppy moments at the start of each half as Edinburgh lost 28-17 to the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship quarter-finals.

Edinburgh's Mark Bennett tackles JJ Kotze of the Stormers during the United Rugby Championship quarter-final in Cape Town. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Edinburgh's Mark Bennett tackles JJ Kotze of the Stormers during the United Rugby Championship quarter-final in Cape Town. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The defeat in Cape Town brings the Scottish club’s season to an end, with the South African team going forward to host Ulster in the semi-finals next Saturday.

“First of all I’m really proud of the effort that our guys put in,” said Blair, the Edinburgh head coach. “This is not an easy place to come and play a quarter-final against a top-quality team. I thought we acquitted ourselves pretty well. A couple of moments in there that had they swung the other way, it would have gone down to the last five minutes.

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“To be in a situation like that against a quality team away from home is pleasing. But there’s obviously a little bit of disappointment in there as well.”

Edinburgh conceded a try at the start of the first half to Warrick Gelant and then another in the opening minutes of the second period to Ruhan Nel when they were down to 14 men following Magnus Bradbury’s yellow card.

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“At the start of the first half I thought we did brilliantly to scramble back. We’d done all the hard work and then just gave it away again,” said Blair of the move that saw Blair Kinghorn’s pass to Chris Dean go astray as Gelant capitalised.

“And again at the start of the second half. We had dealt with the yellow card really well, and it was the last play before Magnus was on the touchline ready to come on and the Stormers scored, which hurt us a little bit.”

Blair can take a fair degree of satisfaction from a campaign which saw Edinburgh reach the quarter-finals of both the URC and the Challenge Cup and win the 1872 Cup and the Scottish-Italian Shield, the latter securing their place in next season’s Champions Cup.

“I think getting to the knockout stages is really big for us,” said the coach of their URC performance. “There weren’t a huge amount of points between us in seventh place and Stormers in second place. I think it was seven points. It was close.

“For us to be in that fight away from home in a quarter-final… It was not through luck. We played some outstanding rugby. There will be bits we’ll look at and maybe question, like giving a team like the Stormers transition ball and turnover ball. We expect the way that we play that we’ll have some turnover ball to defend but maybe there were maybe just a couple too many tonight.”

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