Nic Groom calls on Edinburgh to step up after tough Munster loss

Edinburgh scrum-half Nic Groom has called on his teammates to step up in the coming weeks after they slipped to a second defeat of the season, losing 25-23 away to Munster.

Edinburgh's Jaco van der Walt takes on CJ Stander of Munster. Picture: Dan Sheridan/INPHO/Shutterstock

Unlike their round one loss at home to Ospreys, this is a game Richard Cockerill’s side should have won, but they were unable to close out the victory from a winning position and instead CJ Stander’s try three minutes from time and Ben Healy’s conversion denied the Scottish outfit a deserved triumph.

After a slow start Edinburgh took control as tries from Mark Bennett and WP Nel put them in charge, while Jaco van der Walt proved a reliable source of points from the boot.

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Edinburgh had defended brilliantly throughout, but Munster’s closing burst of phases close to the line finally took its toll and their defensive line was breached for the first time.

With a down week ahead to recover and reset, Edinburgh can switch focus to the visit of Connacht on 25 October, but with the international game set to take centre stage in the coming weeks, Groom urged his remaining teammates to kick-start their season.

“It’s definitely a massive opportunity for us as a group. We’re definitely going to be challenged: we’re going to have guys playing games who haven’t played for a long time,” said South African No 9 Groom.

“For me personally, that’s something I’m excited about. I’m excited to see how we respond as a group, I’m excited to see some guys who have really worked their tails off week after week who are ready to go, and I myself am going to use whatever experience and expertise I have and I’m going to work extra hard to make sure that if given the opportunity I’ll do my best to lead.

“I think it’s a great chance for us to start building some identity again. We’ve got a break now, we’re going to have a new-look squad, a bit of a clean slate in some ways. I see it as a massive opportunity for this club.

“In the grand scheme of things, time off (could be a positive). We’re looking at a few uninterrupted weeks in the near future. I think as part of that we use this time wisely; we balance the time off with rest and the chance to get better and work on certain things. I think it will do us good.”

Late last year Edinburgh left Cork with a two-point win that ultimately proved the difference in them beating Munster to top spot in Conference B. For long stretches of this game Cockerilll’s side carried the poise of a side that believed they could win, and with a 14-12 half time lead they were making the most of that confidence.

And despite van der Walt stretching that lead, Munster managed to stay in touch as Edinburgh’s discipline slipped and Healy continued to punish them from the tee. The Edinburgh out half was sin binned for a high tackle, which saw Munster reclaim the lead, and although Bennett and van der Walt added two more penalties, Stander’s try proved decisive.

“I think that’s the hardest part,” said Groom. “We need to dig out what we can take on from this game. I think right now everyone’s head is spinning a bit. We’re obviously extremely disappointed. I think that’s a job for next week, if I’m honest. This is a tough one compared to Ospreys. I didn’t play in the game, but last week was a completely different challenge with the weather compared to tonight. We had our chances tonight and we had some good plans. Unfortunately we just didn’t execute some of them and we came up short.”

“There were definitely some lapses of concentration. I put my hand up – I made the odd mistake. I guess the challenge for us is how do we become better in those moments as a team. We definitely had a chance to win the game. It just seems like a bit of a trend: we run into intercept trouble in some key moments.”

During last season’s PRO14 campaign Edinburgh only lost four games, but already this time round they have fallen twice from two attempts. While confidence was soaring a few months ago, does Groom think that feeling of invincibility has eroded?

“Is it a confidence thing? I think confidence does play a huge role: it’s a massive thing in sport,” said the 30-year-old.

“The challenge for us now is to really pull together and start to build something within ourselves as a group, because we’re going to have to lean on each other for the confidence.

“We can’t look to past results, we’re not going to get in there: we’re only going to get it through working harder and through demanding more from our team-mates, which we will definitely do.”

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