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WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

Edinburgh Rugby: 3 Racing Metro: 15



A year ago, these two sides fought out one of the most astonishing matches in Heineken history, the Embra men prevailing at Murrayfield 48-47, edging the try count six to five in a real thriller.  They never gave up, coming back from the biggest deficit ever in the competition and playing some fabulous rugby in the process. Those days look a very long way away indeed.  For last night, a weakened, but still perfectly serviceable, Gunners squad crashed to their fourth straight defeat in this year's competition, remaining tryless and pointless at the bottom of the group. 

Whereas last year, Greig Laidlaw seemed to be able to knock over a kick at goal from anywhere on the park, this time first time starter stand-off Piers Francis seemed unable to bisect the sticks from anywhere, a dismal return of one from five attempts consigning the home side to yet another failure and leaving observers wondering quite why this guy was signed in the first place.  Racing weren't much better, all of their points coming from the boot - Olly Barkley notching one and Argentinian full-back Germain four.

A few crumbs of comfort came from the defence, which at least held the French side tryless.  And it was great to see Ben 'Cairnsy' Cairns returning to action after a layoff that has been long even in geological time.  He made it through 77 minutes seemingly unscathed and it is great to have him back.  Edinburgh certainly need some incision in the back division at the moment.

The makeup of the squad was the cause of some debate prior to kick off.  Given that the Gunners were out of the competition already, there was some sense in resting a number of fiirst choices and giving others some game time.  Yet it was still not a weak side in any case and should have been capable of winning this match.  Particularly on exactly the sort of dreich evening that our Gallic cousins generally find somewhat demotivating.  And Racing didn't look particularly fired up themselves anyway. 

But instead we saw yet another of the clueless performances that have become depressingly familiar this term. The Embra men continue to look like they have just met each other and seemingly have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. The season was over some time ago and we need to look ahead to next term.  Whether any of the coaching staff need to trouble themselves with long-term thinking of that nature is looking increasingly unlikely. 

Racing were six up in the first ten minutes, while Francis missed a couple before finally hitting the target on the half hour.  To be frank, that was about the sum total of the excitement in an awful first period and Racing were worth their half time lead.

Proceedings after the break were enlivened by a couple of yellows.  A silly one for Talei followed by visiting prop Arous, carded for his part in a bit of a dust up.  Yet while Racing scored their penalty, even Tonks, taking over the kicking duties, couldn't follow suit for the home side.  A brace of late penalties for the Argentine visitor saw the Parisians home at the end of an eminently forgettable match.  Overall, there was far too much aimless kicking and mucking about up front.  It's difficult to see the Embra men even getting over the try line against either Saracens or Munster on this form.  They could very well find themselves pointless after the final pool match. 

Hopefully they can get themselves up for the Inter-city series over the festive period. Presumably there'll be no resting of key players this season, given that we have nothing else to play for.

Edinburgh: Tonks, Jones, Cairns, Atiga, Fife, Francis, Leck, Yapp, Ford, Cross, McAlpine, Gilchrist, McInally, Grant, Talei. Replacements: S. Visser for Cairns (77), Hunter for Atiga (64), Rees for Leck (69), Jacobsen for Yapp (49), Nel for Cross (49), Parker for McAlpine (49). Not Used: Titterrell, Basilaia.

Sin Bin: Talei (54).

Racing Metro 92: Germain, Bobo, Bousses, Dumoulin, Imhoff, Barkley, Descons, Ben Arous, Szarzewski, Ducalcon, Ghezal, Van Der Merwe, Battut, Noirot, Cronje. Replacements: Belie for Dumoulin (78), Hernandez for Barkley (69), Brugnaut for Ben Arous (68), Bianchin for Szarzewski (75), Orlandi for Ducalcon (67), Qovu for Van Der Merwe (64), Galindo for Noirot (50), Gerondeau for Cronje (71).

Sin Bin: Ben Arous (58).

Att: 4,598

Ref: Dudley Phillips (RFU)