Big hopes do little to secure an Edinburgh win

Benetton Treviso managed to dash Edinburgh’s hopes of starting their 2017/18 season unbeaten on Friday night as the Italian team, who had not won outside of their country in 41 games, silenced the capital club with a 20-17 defeat. Report by Erin McRitchie

Prior to last Friday you wouldn’t have been called wrong for thinking that an Edinburgh v Treviso match, on a nice clear night at Myreside, could only end in one fashion. You would have looked at the Italian side that has struggled for three seasons now to win outside their home country, and thought that the increased stamina and conditioning of this Edinburgh team under new head coach Richard Cockerill, would have ran all over them.

However come 80 minutes, as an Edinburgh fan, you were starting to despair. The opposition have had their replacement loosehead prop sin-binned. Your team are awarded the penalty, they kick to the corner. A number of attacking phases close to the line are ended with the awarding of another penalty. They choose to scrummage. This forces the opposition to remove their blindside flanker from the field, in order to substitute back on their original loosehead (who can’t be too nimble anymore as he was subbed off at half-time, thinking his work for the evening was done). They then draft in a centre to fill the flanker position?!

How is this being allowed? Why is the referee not telling Edinburgh they must kick for goal instead? Why aren’t the Edinburgh scrum half, stand off, or even full back speaking up and saying they’ll take the kick? How can it be that we were 14-0 up at half time, romancing of a bonus point victory? The ingenuity and quick reactions displayed by Chris Dean was sure to produce a hatrick, no?

This is a team under development, plain for all to see. The old guard, with their years of experience and honed skill, as well as loyalty to their team. The new guard, who are hungry and willing to learn and adapt, in order to put their raw talent to the test. And then there is also a new head coach, one who is ruthless in striving for greatness with his new team.

Cockerill certainly held nothing back when discussing his side’s defeat at the hands of Treviso, saying it was a product of “poor choices”, amongst other issues. Whilst he also admitted that during a Monday meeting discussing the game, he had certainly issued a “few home truths”.

But perhaps this is what Edinburgh need. A man who doesn’t know the old way of thinking so well and is thus less likely to get bogged down in the tradition of it. Cockerill could be the man that finally rids the club of their ‘trademark’ late rally for points. But he cannot be expected to achieve this alone. Along with the commitment, determination and diligence of his players, he is going to need the crowds.

For any sports team, whether it be rugby or otherwise, your home ground becomes almost fortress-like. And so, as with any great fortress, you aim to fill it with those who believe in you, and will back you through good times and bad. The screams of encouragement and groans of wrongdoings are bound to push you onwards. Inspire you to do it for yourselves, for your team, and for anybody who has ever supported you. It is in the times of struggle that this is found to be needed the most.

It would be foolish to think that Edinburgh don’t still have tribulations to go through. However, this is a team that has waited years for the fruits of it’s hard work and integrity to pay off. This team could achieve that. The unforced errors and cracks in communication must go however. Edinburgh can beat some of the best when they are focused, but they must work on maintaining the edge for a full 80 minutes or else they could continue to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

This week’s test will be facing Scarlets – a team that are the reigning Guinness Pro 12 Champions and contains a number of internationalists who have recently returned from the British and Irish Lions summer tour. Edinburgh have surprised Scarlets in the past with their grit and determination in defending their line.

So should we get our hopes up once more for a typical Edinburgh comeback rally – lose to the teams we are meant to beat, but comeback to shock those we are meant to bow to.

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