DEFEATS in big knock-out games come with their own compensation: at least you got there in the first place. Defeats like this, conversely, lack even the glimmer of a silver lining.

At home on the opening day of the season to opponents who had not won on the road in the whole of the last campaign, Edinburgh fell dreadfully flat. Ospreys were always going to be significantly better this year, and with players such as Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webbs in their ranks should never be underestimated, but the vivacity of the visitors does not begin to explain the lack of life shown by Richard Cockerill’s side.

“We didn’t control field position, we got out-kicked and out-worked, we gave away cheap points and if you do that in this weather it is a very hard game to then chase down,” the Edinburgh coach lamented. “We lost composure and never really got it back.

“We just couldn’t catch the ball, we couldn’t exit, we turned the ball over 20 plus times tonight, so just individual errors.

“The Ospreys are a good side and are well marshalled and they deserved their win. We got exactly what we deserved.”

Everything went reasonably well at first for Edinburgh, who began to impose themselves on Ospreys and took the lead through a penalty try. But an extended lapse of concentration saw them go in at the break 20-10 down, and in the second half they never looked capable of mounting a comeback.

The back three of Damien Hoyland, Darcy Graham and Jamie Farndale looked lively, but too often they started off on the back foot as their pack proved to be second best by some margin. At least the likes of Duhan van der Merwe and Blair Kinghorn should be back for the Munster match, and it has to be conceded that Cockerill’s team have been badly affected by injuries.

Having also been deprived of Jamie Ritchie because of Covid protocols before this game, Edinburgh suffered another blow just three minutes into the match when Luke Crosbie took a leg knock and had to give way to Hamish Watson.

As a couple of early spills showed, the sodden conditions had made handling hazardous, so it was no surprise that both sides favoured a kicking game at first. Steadily, though, the home team began to stretch their legs in attack, and after Jamie Farndale had made good ground and fed Chris Dean, only a deliberate knock-on by Justin Tipuric prevented the centre from laying on a scoring pass to Mark Bennett. The Ospreys skipper saw yellow for the offence, and referee Andrew Brace awarded a penalty try.

Grant Gilchrist soon followed Tipuric to the bin for taking a man out, and Ospreys eventually made good use of the position inside the home 22, with Nicky Smith finishing off from close range and Stephen Myler converting. Injured in the build-up to that score after diving acrobatically in a bid to intercept, Magnus Bradbury joined Crosbie on the sidelines.

With both teams back to their full complement, a 40-metre penalty by Myler nudged the visitors in front after 25 minutes. Edinburgh needed a strong end to the half after what appeared to be a lengthy lapse of concentration, but, after Jaco van der Walt was wide with a penalty that would have drawn them level, they fell further behind off a turnover in midfield. Centre Keiran Williams made the initial impact by dummying outside then cutting inside, then Mat Protheroe finished off and Myler added the conversion to make it 17-7.

It was a fine piece of improvisation by Ospreys, but also another self-inflicted wound for Edinburgh, who fell further behind to Myler’s second penalty of the evening with five minutes to play in the half. They did pull three points back with the last kick of the half, a penalty by Van der Walt just after another failed attempt at goal, but that still left them with a lot of work to do to get back on terms.

As it transpired, the work they did in the third quarter was largely carried out deep in their own 22 as an energised Ospreys tried to ram home their advantage. It took them a while to find an opening, but they eventually did so on the blindside of a line-out, with Rhys Webb putting Protheroe in for his second try. Myler’s conversion attempt was wide, but at 25-10 that nonetheless put the home team more than two full scores behind.

Dan Nutton, making his first PRO14 appearance, was one of a number of changes made by Cockerill in the wake of that score, but neither the rookie scrum-half nor any of his team-mates was able to brighten the complexion of the contest.

Scorers, Edinburgh – Try: penalty try. Pen: Van der Walt.

Ospreys: Tries: N Smith, M Protheroe 2. Cons: Myler 2. Pens: Myler 2.

Edinburgh: D Hoyland; D Graham, M Bennett, C Dean (G Taylor 57), J Farndale; J van der Walt (N Chamberlain 72), C Shiel (D Nutton 60); P Schoeman (J Bhatti 63), S McInally (captain) (D Cherry 61), S Berghan (W Nel 57), B Toolis, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury (A Davidson 16), L Crosbie (H Watson 3), N Haining.

Ospreys: D Evans; M Protheroe, O Watkin, K Williams (T Thomas-Wheeler 77), L Morgan; S Myler (J Thomas 80), R Webb (R Morgan-Williams 77); N Smith (R Jones 57), S Parry (D Lake 77), T Botha (M Fia 57), A Beard (B Davies 63), A Wyn Jones, O Cracknell (D Lydiate 63), J Tipuric (captain), M Morris.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland).