Zebre V Edinburgh
A disappointing error strewn second-half performance proved to be Edinburgh’s downfall this evening as they fell well short against a determined Zebre outfit.
Playing in front a partisan Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi crowd, Edinburgh succumbed under the host’s quick-paced style of play and conceded 31 points in a second-half showing that they’ll soon want to forget.
The result bares in stark contrast to last weekend’s historic Heineken Champions Cup win over RC Toulon and brings Richard Cockerill’s squad back to earth with a bump.
Despite leading 13-3 at the break following a controlled and patient opening 40 minutes of play, Edinburgh were the masters of their own downfall and Zebre were quick to pounce on their opponent’s mistakes.
Speaking following the result, Head Coach Richard Cockerill gave an honest assessment of his side’s performance, but remained confident that his side will regroup ahead of next weekend’s bout against Conference B rivals, Scarlets, at BT Murrayfield.
“To be 13-3 up and for the match to finish as it did was bitterly disappointing,” said Cockerill.
“We have to take responsibility and take a look at our mistakes. I’m the coach and it’s my fault if we lose like that. We’ve got to go back on Monday and make sure everything is improved for Scarlets.
“We’ll continue to work hard, but the players have to take responsibility as well. If you get beat, you get beat – that’s life, but I won’t accept that level of performance from my players. All I ask is to leave everything out on the field and in that second-half some guys let themselves down.
“They had all their internationalists and we didn’t. That’s the nature of the game. But really, we did enough in that first-half to control the game and we certainly a good enough side to win the game. But if you don’t make your tackles, or catch your kicks or if you throw interceptions, then you’re going to struggle.”
Edinburgh shot out to an early lead through Simon Hickey’s simple penalty and Darcy Graham’s well-timed finish.
The winger – who notched his fourth try in ten appearances for the capital side – was a constant threat in the opening stages and when Chris Dean broke through the Zebre defence, Graham was on hand for the simple score.
A further penalty from Hickey stretched Edinburgh’s lead to 13-3 at the break, but that was to be as good as it got for Richard Cockerill’s side as Zebre reached another gear in the second period.
“We prepared well and were ready for the game. The first-half was very good and the second-half was terrible – simple as that.
“There were a lot of guys starting for the first time. [Jamie] Hodgson being one them and then [Mungo] Mason and [Callum] Atkinson coming off the bench, so there’s some guys who are getting to feel it for the first time, which is great – that’s part of the experience.
“But really we had a good enough side to win that one tonight and we’re not going to accept that second-half performance.