Edinburgh head to Scarlets on Thursday night (kick-off 7.35pm) for their third away Magners League game in the space of 12 days, with interim head coach Nick Scrivener demanding that his players pull together the positive parts of the performances at Dragons and Munster and get back to winning ways.
The capital club showed an eye for the tryline in Newport, crossing three times in defeat, and then brought improved continuity and coherence to their all-round game at Thomond Park.
Scrivener wants to see both these elements operating in concert at Parc y Scarlets, as well as further improvements at the scrum and breakdown, as Edinburgh seek their first success at the Llanelli venue.
The former Australia A, ACT Brumbies and Canberra Vikings coach confirmed: “The attitude and effort from the players were first class against Munster, and we definitely got better in the areas we’d been highlighting beforehand.
“While we were pleased with those improvements, we recognise that it wasn’t enough to win us the match, and so we’ve got to push on at least another couple of levels against Scarlets on Thursday night.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m repeating myself, but when you go away from home, it’s the bread and butter that counts. You’ve got to get a number of basic things right, all at once, to have a chance of staying in the game.
“In the last two matches, we’ve done well in certain parts of the game, but at the same time there’s been an area where we’ve struggled. Against Dragons it was the set-piece, and against Munster it was our concentration.
“You look at both the tries that Dougie Howlett scored and they can be traced back to basic lapses in concentration by our players. The same goes for the Jonathan Davies try the last time we played Scarlets [at Murrayfield last month]. It’s nothing to do with bamboozling play or outrageous skill; it’s down to easily avoidable mistakes on our part.
“The structure of our game was good at Thomond Park, and the decisions we made were generally sound, but it’s about concentration, execution and consistency. Get those things right this week and we’ll have a fighting chance of a win.”
There are four changes, three of them enforced, to the starting line-up from Limerick. Chris Paterson, Geoff Cross and Ross Rennie are involved in preparations for Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations Championship game against Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday, and are replaced by Jim Thompson, David Young and Alan MacDonald respectively.
The fourth switch sees Lewis Niven come in for Kyle Traynor at loose-head prop to make his first Magners League start.
Scrivener explained: “In each of the last two games, Lewis has come off the bench and helped give us a platform through his work in the scrum, so we’re now giving him a chance to prove he can do the business over a longer period.
“Chris and Geoff have been consistent performers for us throughout the season, but Jim Thompson and David Young are both desperate to start games so this is a massive opportunity for them.
“Look at the way that James King responded to being given a chance against Munster: that’s what we’re after, players really stepping up to the mark and grasping opportunities when they present themselves.
“It’s been too long since we won on the road, but the players are in no doubt as to what’s required. This is another massive game for us ahead of finally coming back to Murrayfield against Cardiff Blues [Friday 4 March, kick-off 7.30pm].”
EDINBURGH TEAM TO PLAY SCARLETS IN THE Magners League AT PARC Y SCARLETS ON THURSDAY 24 FEBRUARY (KICK-OFF 7.35PM, LIVE ON S4C)
15 Jim Thompson
14 Lee Jones
13 Ben Cairns
12 James King
11 Tim Visser
10 David Blair
9 Greig Laidlaw (captain)
1 Lewis Niven
2 Andrew Kelly
3 David Young
4 Scott MacLeod
5 Steven Turnbull
6 Fraser McKenzie
8 Netani Talei
7 Alan MacDonald
16 Alun Walker
17 Kyle Traynor
18 Jack Gilding
19 Esteban Lozada
20 Roddy Grant
21 Ross Samson
22 Simon Webster
23 Tom Brown
Not considered due to injury: Alex Blair (back), Chris Bloomfield (ACL), Fraser Brown (neck, in post-surgery rehabilitation), Grant Gilchrist (ankle), Phil Godman (knee), John Houston (knee), Gregor Hunter (groin), Stuart McInally (hand).