Mike Blair reflects on galvanising effect of red card as 14-man Benetton beat Edinburgh

Mike Blair admitted his Edinburgh side were “off it” in Italy as they went down 24-17 to Benetton at Stadio Monigo.

Mike Blair felt his Edinburgh side were "off it".  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Mike Blair felt his Edinburgh side were "off it". (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

The coach felt his players were guilty of expecting to win after the hosts were reduced to 14 men by Matteo Minozzi’s red card after only ten minutes. But the dismissal seemed to galvanise the home side who also overcame the loss of two other players to the sin-bin to outscore the visitors by four tries to two and clinch a bonus-point win.

Edinburgh were missing almost a full team of international players but Benetton had been fortified by the return of their Italy contingent and it showed.

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“Benetton were excellent and managed the game really well after the red card,” said Blair, whose side had won their previous three matches in the URC. “They were really smart. But I said to the players at half-time that the game was still in our hands. We’ve seen it before, though, with red cards and how it can really galvanise a team. It brings emotion into it and gives them that backs-to-the-wall type of mentality. But we’ve got to be better than that. We’ve got to see that as an opportunity. I think we waited and thought that [the red card] was going to be the thing that won us the game.

“But that wasn’t the case. It’s your physicality, your relentlessness nature of attack, persistence in defence, your smarts – that’s what wins you games. Collectively, we were just off it.”

After a run of three away games, Edinburgh will return to the DAM Health Stadium for Friday’s match with Ulster.

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