FOR a man who had just watched his team fail to score a point and concede 17 in a defeat against their arch-rivals, Richard Cockerill carried a fairly happy disposition as he took stock of a battle which will not go down in history as a classic, but will perhaps be remembered as another key moment in the development of Edinburgh as a credible force in the Guinness PRO14 .
Edinburgh did, of course, get the better of Glasgow just seven days ago, but that was a home game for the capital men. This match was in enemy territory and a furious backlash from the west coast outfit seemed inevitable. And the fact that it didn’t materialise had a lot to do with the away team point-blank refused to let it happen.
“I’m disappointed with the final score and a bit disappointed in the fact we created lots of opportunities and then threw the ball away – that is frustrating – but we’re starting to be a tough team to beat, with the ball and without it, and we’re gaining some respect and some credibility,” reasoned the Edinburgh head coach.
“There were players missing on both sides but having seven international front-rowers missing was always going to make the scrum difficult and that’s how it turned out. But I’m proud of the performance and the fact we were in the battle the whole way.”
Cockerill is hopeful of having loose-head Rory Sutherland back from a shoulder injury next week, but the other absent props in WP Nel, Simon Berghan, Alasdair Dickinson, Allan Dell and Darryl Marfo are not due to return any time soon.
“It was a step forward for us today. They’re a hard side to play here, but we came and fired some shots, put them under pressure, and it’s not very often that the Warriors will be kicking for goal at 6-0 or 9-0 because they’re worried about the result,” continued Cockerill.
“In the end, we didn’t deserve to win. They played well, they put us under pressure at the right times. Considering the evening, the way it turned out with the weather and the long interval [due to a fire-alarm prompting a stadium evacuation], both sides played good rugby and it was very tight. They won the small margins because we didn’t hold onto the ball when we created opportunities.”
“At 6-0 we created opportunities to get to 6-3, 6-5 or 6-7, and then suddenly the momentum of the game would have been different, whereas they controlled the scoreboard all the way through. But we off-loaded the ball too much and I thought we made some poor decisions when we broke them.
“We broke them maybe six or seven times and didn’t take one of those opportunities. My frustration is that when we look back at the video, we’ll know we can play better, which is a good and a bad thing.”
“If we play like that for the rest of the season, we’ll win more games than we lose and we’ll put pressure onto Ulster, Munster, Leinster. We’ll be in the fight and that’s where we want to be.”
With their scrum under serious pressure, Edinburgh needed everything else to be close to spot-on, and the concession of 17 penalties was costly.
“We gave away twice as many penalties but my personal opinion was that I felt the breakdown was refereed differently and they were allowed to do a lot more than we were, and that’s frustrating. If the referee sees it one way then he just referees it that way, and it seemed like the he was keener to penalise us when we were defending than the opposition,” lamented Cockerill.