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Laidlaw's farewell fitting for a season full of failures and flaws

Greig Laidlaw's farewell was more fitting than fond as the Edinburgh scrum-half marked his last home game with an exhibition of all the flaws and failures that have marked his final season at the club.

Warm applause rang round Meggetland when Laidlaw left the pitch with 10 minutes remaining, but Munster's response was more telling. Even with the fresh legs of Grayson Hart, Laidlaw's replacement, on the pitch, Munster looked fitter and faster to the end, rubbing salty embarrassment into the capital side's wounds by adding the two late tries that brought their touchdown tally up to seven.

Detailed analysis becomes pointless when a side is bettered in almost every area. Barring a reasonably feisty start, in which they opened the scoring with a sharp try by Carl Bezuidenhout and then added another from Willem Nel at the end of the first quarter, their performance was utterly depressing. Coach Alan Solomons' refrain in recent weeks is that his players are exhausted, but Edinburgh have no monopoly on tiredness at this stage of the season and other sides seem able to cope.

Solomons has promised Edinburgh fans that he will bring new players to the club, but they will have to be of the calibre of such departing stars as Laidlaw, Ross Rennie and Geoff Cross if their frustrations are to be addressed. He has also said that a rigorous pre-season conditioning programme will get his players back into shape. Solomons is an affable fellow, but he has made a very thick rod for his own back if he does not deliver on those assurances in the months ahead.

The week ahead is actually his most pressing concern, for Edinburgh's season will end on Saturday when they travel to Dublin to take on RaboDirect PRO12 league leaders Leinster. The Irish side have no reason to ease off the throttle just yet, and the thought of what they could do to Solomons' team is frightening.

As the man himself admitted. "It's going to be harder next week because Leinster probably have the edge on Munster in terms of attack," said the South African. "We've got to look at how we can freshen them up and use our bench. That's about all we can do. We have a few injuries and we just have to cope with it."

In fairness, Edinburgh did not have their troubles to seek going into the game. Scotland No.8 Dave Denton had been pressed into emergency -and reluctant - service at lock, and the politest thing that could be said of his performance was that he was willing and enthusiastic.

"I have a lot more respect for what those guys in the second row do now," said Denton afterwards.

He put his name to a contract extension a few months ago, and it would be easy to suspect that Edinburgh's dire season would lead him to question his own wisdom. Yet he remains resolutely optimistic about what the future holds for the club.

"I want to do as much as I can to bring this club forward," he said. "A huge reason for me re-signing with Edinburgh was that I wanted to be part of the change. It might be hard to see that change now. It is hard for me to see just now because we are so disappointed after a game like that. It has been a tough few weeks, but we can see where this team is going."

Bold words in the wake of a result that was Edinburgh's heaviest defeat of the season. Munster's forward advantage was measured by the fact their touchdown haul included two penalty tries.

It was the third time this season that Munster had put more than 30 points past Edinburgh. In which light, Edinburgh's 29-23 victory over the men from Ireland's south-west in a Heineken Cup last October match must rate as one of the strangest results in years, albeit one that seems like a distant and fast-fading memory for their fans.

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