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'We're not in the same league as these guys or the Leinsters but it's a starting point'

Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill wants his team to learn from the narrow defeat to Munster in Limerick.

Murray Kinsella reports from Thomond Park

RICHARD COCKERILL ISN’T one to beat around the bush and he wasn’t doing so after his Edinburgh team came up short against Munster to miss out on a place in the Guinness Pro14 semi-finals.

The Scots played some attractive rugby during a 20-16 defeat at Thomond Park, scoring a spectacular second-half try through scrum-half Nathan Fowles and creating many other moments of excitement, but they just weren’t quite good enough.

Grant Gilchrist dejected Edinburgh came up short in Limerick. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It’s been a season of notable progress for Edinburgh under former Leicester boss Cockerill, however, and after their first involvement in the Pro14 play-offs, the head coach was honest in his assessment of where they stand.

“I’m very proud of Edinburgh’s performance,” said Cockerill. “It’s a game that if we had been a bit more accurate at times, it’s certainly a game we could have won. Ultimately, you get what you deserve and we got what we deserved.

“To push this side, at this stadium, so close that they’re defending for their lives at the end, we should take a huge amount of pride in that. We’ve got some solid foundations to try and build from.

“We’re not in the same league as these guys or the Leinsters or others, but it’s a good starting point for us. We’ve shown today that at least we can compete and we’ve got the respect of the teams we play moving forward.”

Coming into this semi-final qualifier, Cockerill had said that he believed Edinburgh would win if they were still in the game with 20 minutes to go.

As it transpired, they were well and truly in it until the final whistle brought relief for Munster.

“I said we’d win – I was wrong, wasn’t I?” said Cockerill afterwards. “Munster are a very good side, they’ve got world-class at nine to control the game they’ve got experience through the spine of the team that we haven’t got at the moment, but we’ll learn that.

“The reality is that we’ve got to learn the lessons from today because the reality is that it’s a four-point game and we gave them seven from our lineout [for Rhys Marshall's try], even though our lineout’s been very good all year. It’s a big game, you make an error, they score, we lose by four.

Richard Cockerill Cockerill feels his team can learn valuable lessons in defeat. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

“All those little things add up, all their good play and good pressure, that’s what costs you. It takes time to learn those lessons, we have to go through that process. I’d much rather win and go to Dublin [to play Leinster in the semi-final] and try to win the comp, but the players have to learn that.

“We’re in this situation today, we could have won that game, nobody left the stadium thinking Edinburgh were a pushover. I’ve got belief in this team and as we said from the start of the season, we wanted to earn the respect of the competition and I think we’ve done that.”

Edinburgh’s campaign ends in defeat but it has been an excellent one overall under Cockerill, with Champions Cup qualification secured.

Their new signings this summer will include Scotland captain John Barclay, Kiwi out-half Simon Hickey, South African prop Pierre Schoeman, Scotland centre Matt Scott and Argentinian back Juan Pablo Socino – meaning Edinburgh should be in a good place to grow even further next season.

“A lot of these players have never been in a play-off, ever,” said Cockerill in Limerick.

“You don’t win knock-outs, generally, at the first time of asking. We know what it’s like now. We’re going to be in Europe next year, we know what it’s like to come to a place like this and compete.

“We weren’t second best today, we were competing and at times we were as good as them and we could have won the game. We didn’t, so congratulations to them. They’re a good side and well coached. We’ve just got to learn.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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