Edinburgh Rugby head coach Mike Blair couldn’t fault his side’s commitment in their narrow defeat to Saracens in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday.
The Scottish region ran the three-time champions close at StoneX Stadium, ultimately succumbing 30-26 after Stuart McInally and WP Nel were sin-binned late on.
It was Edinburgh’s first game back in the Heineken Champions Cup after they spent last campaign in the EPCR Challenge Cup, and Blair was delighted with how difficult they made life for one of the competition’s most decorated sides.
“I’m very proud of the performance,” Blair said after the game. “I thought physically, both sides of the ball, we were excellent. We put a lot of pressure on against a really talented and experienced Saracens team.
“Yes, we’ll look back at a couple of missed opportunities and things we could have done better, but my main emotion is pride.
🏰 @EdinburghRugby strike first against Saracens!
Luan de Bruin's eyes when he saw Owen Farrell defending the line: 😍🤩#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/O3J42MoO3W
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 11, 2022
“I thought we got in their faces. Blair Kinghorn in particular put his body on the line. Our effort and work rate off the ball [was excellent].
“We were smart with our kicking game and transfer of pressure, so we are looking forward to next week.”
Despite McInally’s yellow card on 68 minutes diminishing Edinburgh’s hopes of overcoming an 11-point deficit, Blair refused to pin any blame on the hooker.
“It’s not just on him,” he asserted. “The yellow card was a team offence and in the lineouts, there are lots of different bits that play a part in winning them.
“Stuart is an experienced player. He’ll know that there were a couple of things that he could put right, but we win and lose as a team.”