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Solomons believes Edinburgh will overcome travel sickness

The arithmetic says one thing; bitter experience something else entirely.

Starting Sam Hidalgo-Clyne on the wing is important for his development says Alan Solomons. Picture: SNS
Starting Sam Hidalgo-Clyne on the wing is important for his development says Alan Solomons. Picture: SNS

A bonus-point win for Edinburgh in their rearranged fixture against Dragons at Rodney Parade tonight would propel them into seventh place in the RaboDirect PRO12 table, on the cusp of a European qualification spot. Yet, as the capital outfit have not won in Newport since 2006, the odds are not exactly promising.

In fact, Edinburgh have not picked up any sort of PRO12 win on the road since they beat Zebre in Parma more than a year ago. Their coach Alan Solomons pointed out yesterday that his side have taken losing bonus points from their last three away trips - against Connacht, Scarlets and Treviso - but they still have a distance to travel before they can expect to go away and win with four tries.

"It is similar to the experience I had in Ulster," said Solomons, who was in charge of the Irish province between 2001 and 2004. "When a team is deve­loping, you start by being more successful at home because you are in your own environment and not travelling.

"The familiarity of being at home is an advantage. When you start with a team you often find that playing away is more difficult, but we will overcome that. In the last three games we have managed to get a losing bonus point but we now need to take the step up and get a win."

A victory looked on the cards against Treviso last weekend, but sloppy defence at one end of the pitch and even sloppier finishing at the other turned Edinburgh's 9-3 interval lead into a 20-16 defeat at the finish. Solomons is one of the more temperate coaches on the scene today, but his ire over that outcome was clear.

"We butchered that game," he said firmly. "There's no question about that. We had ample opportunities to win that game, and at least three of them were pretty straightforward, but we didn't take them. If you don't take your chances you pay the price. We are aware that we didn't finish well and we appreciate that it's important to take opportunities when we get them."

Indeed there is, but there is a whiff of experimentation around Edinburgh at the moment. As a general rule, a side that is pushing for glory does not agree to rest its captain for five weeks, as Edinburgh have done with Greig Laidlaw, or farm out an international prop to a rival club, which is what they have done in lending Geoff Cross to Glasgow.

Cross will move to London Irish this summer and it was confirmed yesterday that lock/flanker Sean Cox, another who appears to have fallen out of favour at Murrayfield, will be heading to the Reading side as well.

To add to the impression that he has already written off Edinburgh for this season, Solomons has named scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne on the wing for tonight's game. However, the coach denied a suggestion that this was another suck-it-and-see selection, pointing out that the 20-year-old played most of his youth rugby at full-back and should be able to adapt to the wing berth with ease.

Solomons drew comparisons with Northampton Saints' Ben Foden and the Springbok Francois Hougard, both of whom can move seamlessly between scrum-half and back-three positions. Lofty praise, but the coach believes Hidalgo-Clyne has the potential to become a very good player.

"I'd like to involve Sam with the side because I think it is important for his development," said Solomons. "His future lies at scrum-half, but he has that versatility. He showed in the cameo he had against Treviso that he is a talented footballer and I think he will add to the team. He is really buzzing.

"He is quick, he has great evasive skills, he is a tough little bloke and he's brave. He does not have the physique that Francois has at the moment, but he made the change so successfully that he played for South Africa in the position. I think we are very fortunate to have a player of Sam's calibre and I think it's great for him to be involved in this game. For him to get the start is good for him."

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