"There's not really much to say, it's frustrating and it has to get better" - Edinburgh back-rower Nick Haining
Scotland forward accepts poor show against Ospreys, which made it four straight losses, must be put right quickly
Early days for leaping to judgment you’d normally say after a season-opening flop but this has not been a ‘normal’ year as we all know without any need for a reminder.
The judgment leaps should, in fairness, still have to wait in this case as a flat Edinburgh slumped to this comprehensive 25-10 home defeat to open their 2020-21 Guinness Pro14 season at an empty, cold and rain-lashed BT Murrayfield on Saturday night.
The stats are there in black and white that head coach Richard Cockerill’s side have now lost four on the bounce after a pre-lockdown surge to the top of Conference B sustained a heartening improvement of the capital pro team under the Englishman after a decade of malaise.
The Covid-19 disruption continues to throw flies in the ointment on so many levels, from a recruitment freeze under financial pressure to the kind of situation which left Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie unavailable for this one due to strict protocols on potential exposure to the virus no matter how low a risk.
Cockerill is not a man for excuses, though, and fully accepts it is not an isolated, for want of a better word, predicament.
“The weather conditions were difficult and they controlled them much better than we did,” said the coach. “We were a bit naive and did not exit out of our own half and put ourselves under pressure.”
Edinburgh actually struck first, after the usually metronomic Jaco van der Walt spurned two penalty opportunities, when a penalty try was awarded after an excellent move involving wing Jamie Farndale and centres Chris Dean and Mark Bennett was thwarted illegally by Ospreys skipper Justin Tipuric, who was sent to the sin-bin.
After the penalty try the old chestnut that seems to afflict Scottish teams at all levels emerged again as the Welsh region responded swiftly after home lock Grant Gilchrist was also yellow-carded and visiting prop Nicky Smith finished off an attacking maul.
A couple of tries either side of half-time by Ospreys wing Mat Protheroe and the solid boot of stand-off Stephen Myler proved enough to snuff out a limp Edinburgh showing following defeats to Glasgow, Ulster and Bordeaux-Begles.
"It was probably a bit error-ridden,” said Scotland and Edinburgh back-row Nick Haining afterwards. "Me personally, I dropped a few balls, we were under pressure in our own half and not exiting. We made that many errors, it's hard to get a foothold in the game. We talked about it after the game and that's where we let ourselves down.
“It’s very frustrating. We talked about it. There's not really much more to say, it's frustrating and it has to get better.”
It doesn’t get any easier as Edinburgh now face a trip to face Conference B arch-rivals Munster in Limerick this Saturday night.
"Every game's going to be tough this year,” added Haining. “We have to take some positives out of it, if we get rid of those errors, I think the gameplan works. We have seen it works, so we have to put everything right next week.”
Edinburgh’s progress led to them facing Ulster in the semi-finals of the Pro14, ending in a deflating loss, before another on a difficult trip to France and losing to Bordeaux-Begles in the European Challenge Cup last eight.
"It would have been nice to have a bigger break but it's the way it is, everybody is in the same boat,” said Australia-born 30-year-old Haining, who made his Scotland debut against Ireland in Dublin at the start of the Six Nations in February. “We had a good pre-season, we had our finals, we had a week off, and there's no excuses really, we should have been better.
“We didn't feel like the whole game was getting away from us. Making all those little mistakes just put more pressure on us. If we cut those out we could have had a foothold in the game and been fine but we just couldn't do it.”
Haining refused to believe Edinburgh were on a backward slide after those three previous losses before Saturday.
“We can't make those excuses,” he said. “We are into a new season now, we had the week off, and we put that behind us. We should be hitting the ground running. To lose like that, with that many errors, wasn't good enough. We won't make any excuses.
“We have got a lot of things to fix, things that are an easy fix, errors that we can get out of our game. I have no doubt that we will front up [at Munster] like we always do.”
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