Edinburgh v Munster: sloppy hosts blown away after promising start

Knee injury suffered by Darcy Graham adds to capital outfit's woes

Rory Scannell is congratulated after scoring Munster's second try versus Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rory Scannell is congratulated after scoring Munster's second try versus Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 17

Munster 38

DAVID BARNES @ The DAM Health Stadium

MIKE BLAIR conceded that his team was not been ‘mentally on it’ when squandering a promising ten-point lead after 35 minutes to slump to their heaviest defeat of the season. It was a blow to the capital outfit’s play-off push in the United Rugby Championship, and leaves them with a serious lack of momentum going into next weekend’s Champions Cup match away to Saracens.

“In the second half we looked panicky on the ball, we tried to force things and we lacked all composure,” said the head coach. “That team we put out on the pitch should have been in a position to win that game. I am really disappointed.  We were not good enough. We have to be better. If we are not, things like tonight happen

“There was just little bits where mentally we weren’t quite on it, which is really frustrating,” Blair added. “When Munster came out in the second half, we gave them everything they wanted. We were ponderous in attack and they won the physicality battle, and they thoroughly deserve the win on the back of that second half performance.”

It was a miserable night for Edinburgh and there will be added anxiety within the club and the Scotland camp about winger Darcy Graham, who hobbled off the field midway through the first half. “It’s his knee,” confirmed Blair. “Something in or around his MCL but I’m not too sure how bad it is at the moment. He was able to walk off, which was good, but we’ll have to wait and see.”


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Edinburgh got off to a flyer when Luke Crosbie swept past a weak Munster tackle in midfield and then released Chris Dean, who cantered past last man Joey Carbery before dotting down under the posts, setting up an easy conversion which Blair Kinghorn had no problem turning into two more points.

The hosts came close to extending their lead on 10 minutes when Ben Vellacott sneaked down the short side of a ruck, but Calvin Nash managed to lasso the scrum-half into touch before he reached the try-line.

The second try was not far away, however, and when it came it was that man Graham who did the damage – grabbing his 13th touchdown of the season from 10 matches played for either Edinburgh or Scotland by picking off Carbery’s speculative pass and darting home from halfway.

Kinghorn’s touchline conversion came back off the right post and Edinburgh made a pig’s ear of the restart meaning Munster had their first period of pressure, but the home defence stood strong on this occasion before the pack won a scrum penalty which allowed Kinghorn to clear the danger.

It was a temporary reprieve. The visitors came again and they finally got off the mark when Craig Casey broke from the base after a line-out maul had been brought down five yards short of the line, strolling through a yawning gap for as easy a try as he is ever likely to score.

Graham then twisted his knee in a tackle and although he managed to make it off the field by his own steam, he looked distressed. The Six Nations kicks off in just over two months’ time.

The home side didn’t initially let that set-back knock their momentum, and after several more minutes of possession they extended their lead when, after Viliame Mata and Luke Crosbie had punched holes, Kinghorn looped round Dean and fed Ritchie, who ducked and weaved past three would-be tacklers on his way to the line.

But Kinghorn again missed the conversion so when Anotine Frisch sent Rory Scannell under the posts in the last play of the half, and Carbery knocked over the straight-forward conversion, it meant that only three points separated the sides at the turnaround.

 

That small home advantage became a slightly larger deficit within two minutes of the resumption, when Nash burst between Mata and WP Nel off a Carbery pass for a try which Carbery converted.

All the momentum was now with the visitors, and they scored their bonus-point try on 52 minutes when Gavin Coombes bulldozed over at the end of a slick, high-tempo attack.

The home set-piece was creaking badly and the backline was being swamped by a relentless red wave every time they were delivered scrappy possession. A Carbery penalty moved the visitors 14 points clear soon after the game entered its final quarter, and it was already clear that there was no way back for the hapless hosts.

Edinburgh did manage to stem the scoring for the next 19 minutes, but they couldn’t get anything going in attack, and this wasn’t always down to the pressure their opponents were exerting on them. There was far, far too many unforced errors.

Carbery scrambled over and then converted himself in the final minute to polish off the away win and compound home misery.

 

Teams –

Edinburgh: W Goosen; D Graham (J van der Walt 27), M Bennett, C Dean (J Lang 45), D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott; P Schoeman (B Venter 41), P Harrison (T Cruse 49), L de Bruin (WP Nel 41), J Hodgson (M Sykes 55), G Gilchrist, J Ritchie (N Haining 73), L Crosbie, V Mata.

Munster: S Daly; C Nash, A Frisch, R Scannell (J Crowley 57), S Zebo (P Campbell. 45); J Carbery, C Casey (P Patterson 51); J Loughman (J Wycherley 66), N Scannell (D Barron 50), J Ryan (R Salanoa 66), J Kleyn, T Beirne, P O’Mahony ( J O’Donoghue 64), J Hodnett, G Coombes (A Kendellen 57).

Referee: M Reynal (France)

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Dean, Graham, Ritchie; Con: Kinghorn.

Munster: Tries: Casey, Scannell, Nash, Coombes, Carbery; Con: Carbery 5; Pen: Carbery.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 12-5; 12-7; 17-7; 17-12; 17-14 (h-t) 17-19; 17-21; 17-26; 17-28, 17-31; 17-36; 17-38.

 

Crowd: 7,339


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About David Barnes 3192 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

23 Comments

  1. The let’s blame Kinghorn brigade are out in force again I see.
    So, Edinburgh’s static defensive line and lack of dominant tackling was down to him was it? Oh and the guddled restarts leading to 2 Munster tries, they’d be his fault too I don’t doubt. But the comment about his box kicks when he actually doesn’t box kick, that gives me pause, as the idiot who wrote that particular gem, clearly either doesn’t know what a box kick is or can’t tell Vellacot and Kinghorn apart 🤔
    I’m not trying to absolve Kinghorn, he shares the blame with the rest of his team mates for an incredibly disappointing performance all round but blaming one individual for what are obviously wider problems makes no sense.
    One final thought, how often does Mike Blair expect us to swallow the “we weren’t on it mentally” line? Time to get the finger out and get them fired up or a change of coach might be in order.

    • Totally agree. It’s a cheap shot to endlessly blame Blair and detracts from the much wider deficiencies in the team’s performance as outlined in many of the posts. The forwards alone made enough errors for 2 or 3 games.

  2. Not unexpectedly a harsh reality check. Edinburgh have flattered to deceive when playing easier opposition. Cockerill had always said that Edinburgh was a work in progress but, unfortunately, having recruited well, he was never given the opportunity to take the squad to the next stage and I’m sure that the game plan would have become more ambitious. He is grounded in the Leicester approach of being hard to beat, being combative and competitive and then attacking wider.

    You have to win the ball first. We have seen the harvest reaped with GT’s unforgiveable meddling with Kinghorn and the “all fur coat and nae knickers” approach. This simply creates unrealistic expectations when the team’s and coaches’failings are exposed against well coached hardnosed and battle hardened opponents well versed in the cynical dark arts.

    Criticism is easy but most of the players are probably doing their best and does it not simply reflect the rugby and coaching talent base in Scotland ? Maybe we should just enjoy our odd day in the sun and accept that it will never get better.

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  3. Blair needs to make his mind up whether he is coaching Edinburgh or a development side for the national team. For Edinburgh supporters the latter is not acceptable. Players need to be selected in the position they play, not shoehorned in on the whim of someone outside the club. Would Cockerell have stood for such interference? If Kinghorn has himself determined that fly half is where he wants to play then he should be turning out for one of the Super 6 teams and learning the role in a more forgiving environment. However I believe he has been pressured into the position and deep down lacks the confidence and self belief that he is an international 10.
    Edinburgh’s season is in danger of imploding this month . The relative success of last season made one forget that Blair is a rookie coach and recent selection and tactical errors are now exposing this. It was embarrassing for him to admit to the mental frailties of the team in the 2nd half after the coaching team had the chance to address how the team was playing. Deja vue to the how soft Edinburgh were until the previous coach addressed that weakness head on.

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    • Agree with most of your comments but lets not kid ourselves that Cockers was the answer to all our problems. He coached the most boring and dull brand of rugby ever and it wasn’t successful, Lets hope yesterday was a bit of a one off and we can get back on track next week. Until yesterday we have payed a lot of exciting rugby and remarkably are still the leading points scorers in the league. I agree that some of the tactics and selection are down to the coaches and they need to take it on the chin. Could do with Skinner coming back as he brings a bit of a hard edge to the forwards but not sure when he’s due back. Also maybe Muncaster for Mata or Skinner in the back row as well.

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    • first up let me say that you have nailed the huge conflict for pro team coaches – they do need to pick teams to win; but they also do need to develop talent for the national team. And they donlt always get it right
      But the Kinghorn “experiment” actually started under Cockerill –
      https://www.theoffsideline.com/racing-92-v-edinburgh-blair-kinghorn-starts-ahead-of-jaco-van-der-walt-at-10/

      I wasn’t a fan of it, still doubtful. But what I do know is we are always one injury away from disaster so trying to develop another option makes sense; unfortunately I also think that while Kinghorn is a great natural talent he is a player without a position which would make him a sure fire starter

    • Skinner makes a difference, Muncaster has to come into the squad for Mata. VDW to 10, a space in the 23 has to be found for Kinghorn but he’s not a starting 10. Loads of talent in the backs need to utilise them

  4. “The Scottish boys can’t hack it when the pressure’s on. They’ll crumble.”

    The words of the Irish fan I was sat beside last night as he explained things to his missus. Sadly he was 100% bang on.

    Duncan Hodge spoke on the radio afterwards about how the Irish players have to survive through such a competitive, brutal programme to get anywhere near the top that by the time they’re playing pro games they’re used to dealing with tough situations and pressure. It’s a very stark comparison with Scottish guys there.

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  5. Edinburgh were miles off, we’ve played the last 2 weeks like they were pre-season games. The international break has set us back and the team look really rusty. Lineout was poor, 2nd best at the breakdown, defence was weak, missed Boff under the high ball and once Darcey departed so did our attacking threat. Sarries next week could be painful.

  6. We’ve seen all this before when playing the Irish, either the provincial sides or there national team. Our forwards are so off the pace against the Irish it’s embarrassing, and can only see the Irish winning at a canter in the 6 Nations.
    They have the dog in them that we just don’t have 😔

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  7. It was painful watching poor Kinghorn out there. It’s not his fault that one coaches ego is trying to shoehorn him into a position that he just can’t play at this sort of level. The Irish lads would have found it hilarious that a ten went to 15 to keep a 15 at 10 and even worse that Kinghorn kept the kicking duties. If anyone should be shoehorned into ten it would be Dean as he was running the show and Embra were lost when he and Darcy went off. Similar tale with the SRU obsession for front row players who hit great numbers in the gym but cannot manage the basics of scrum and lineouts. We could learn an awful lot from the Irish when it comes to coaching the fundamental skills and concentrating on youth development not recruiting from anywhere but your own nation. Worth also saying ref bought some amount of cheating at contact area as well.

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    • With regard to Kinghorn, he is between a rock and a hard place: in the squad but in a position that surely he must realise isn’t his best in the long term, but if we were in his place would we confront Townsend and say ‘I don’t think it is working nor doing me any good’ what sort of option is that for him?
      It is very difficult not to consider that Townsend has [or hopefully had] an agenda, and coercing Mike Blair to continue the ‘Experiment’ doesn’t seem to be helping Edinburgh and perhaps Blair ‘M’ might have some words to say about looking for alternative options, for my money it isn’t helping Kinghorn either as his long term prospect as a 10 has to be limited, perhaps he thinks it offers him another arrow to his Bow as a Utility-back.
      A personal thought, by no means scientific, Kinghorn’s tall [1.94] and rangy not in the typical build of a Terrier fly half if you get my drift, he looks more of a handful coming into the game from Fullback or Wing, but that’s my opinion, others options are available.

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      • Ireland’s provinces allways look well coached, players playing with structure totally committed to handle whats in front of them.
        The very opposite can be said of Edinburgh poor coaching staff clueless players & a few a bit on the soft side.

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  8. It was quite clear from that display last night, Kinghorn is nowhere near good enough at 10. Dean and Graham were a big loss and I’m afraid the intelligent rugby Irish sides play laid bare the shortcomings of Scottish rugby one again. I have my doubts of that referee’s policing of the scrum and offside, but that’s secondary to our management of possession and playing a hooker who’s in the team solely because he’s good in the loose. The contrast with his replacement confirmed Blair got it exactly wrong with his starting choice and I hope that lesson is learned.

    Fingers crossed Graham and Dean are back quickly and reality dawns on Blair and Townsend re Kinghorn.

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  9. Agree with all the comments, the mistakes, awful defence, lineout really poor passes etc. It looked like when we lost Dean and Darcy we completely went off the boil. And now Saracens….

  10. That was a thoroughly disheartening performance from Edinburgh. I really thought they were serious URC contenders this year but to lose to Munster like that was appalling. A great start made it all the worse.

    There were so many areas of their game that were below par. The line out was catastrophic – you cant win games if you keep missing your line out throws. I don’t like to pick on young Harrison but he cant play at this level if he cant get his throws sorted. Cruse should have started. One overthrow led straight to the Munster try before half time. The half backs were poor – we tried to play the high tempo game that works against the lesser sides but Munster were waiting for us and put us under pressure and mistakes flowed. The kicking game was a mystery – our box kicks were barely contestable yet Munsters were and we hardly ever seemed to compete, just giving the ball back to Munster. Our defence also looked porous in the midfield and by the end Munster looked a lot more like Edinburgh. The ruck defence was also poor – we just seemed to stand off them at times allowing Munster quick ball and easy yards. By the end we were a uncoordinated shambles.

    What has happened to Bill Mata – he is running on reputation rather than form – I can only remember one run he had yesterday and its hard to pick out many players who had a decent game. Im not sure how Edinburgh are going to turn this round – they have been found out against the better teams and this was the worst yet. I’ll have to lower expectations and at best a top 8 finish. The Saracens game next week will be a real indicator of where we are and a chance to prove me wrong.

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    • Played a lot of the weaker sides early in the season and did look good (some days VERY good) but it’s the lack of control (the sort of control that you see when Finn Russell is at 10 rather than Kinghorn). I like Kinghorn but if you cut down his space/apply pressure he’s got nothing, opposing teams know this (Irish team especially) and will exploit it. Mata was terrible last night, earlier in the season he was making yards/being physically dominant but off his game totally presently.
      Line out was hideous, again it appears out line-out can go to pot if clever pressure is applied, especially frustrating.
      Munster were very well coached and with Graham, Dean off and VDM completely starved of the ball…………..

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    • Totally agree with you comments.Also from our Scotland team and the two Pro teams
      Ourlineouts are poor

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  11. Put on different thread about 40mins ago
    After a tremendous start Munster absolutely leathered Edinburgh in 2nd half, Edinburgh line out disintegrated and won at a canter.
    Lovely break by Crosbie for 1st try Graham interception for 2nd, Graham injured, Kinghorn kicking ropey, high short box kicks.
    Even when VDW came on Kinghorn kept the kicking duties.
    Chastening.

  12. Sick and tired of seeing this team being unable to see games out and not appearing as desperate to win as the opposition.

    Kinghorn was again hopeless when the chips were down, with the boot, game management and in error count. It struck me tonight how Chris Dean really does manage to make him look okay at times.

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  13. Edinburgh’s physicality fell off a cliff in the second half.
    If they play that way against Carries it will be a very tough watch
    Hope Darcy’s knee isn’t a long term injury, just long enough to miss the first 2 rounds of the Champions cup.

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