LONDON Welsh’s hopes of a morale-boosting first win of the season were dashed after they were comfortably beaten 24-6 by Edinburgh in the European Challenge Cup yesterday, writes SIMON WILLIAMS.

After resting key players for the away fixture at Murrayfield last week, the Exiles recalled a number of key players, including former England fly half Olly Barkley after injury, for the clash at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium.

However, while strong in defence, Welsh were poor in attack and failed to score a try.

Their record in all competitions this season now reads played 15, lost 15.

Latest Sport news

Edinburgh started the game strongly, forcing Welsh into a number of forwards’ infringements.

The visitors came close to an early try, but sturdy defence kept them at bay after a five-metre scrum.

Welsh, as ever, always looked to attack, but in what was the sign of things to come for the remainder of the half, they were let down by handling errors at key moments.

A well-timed pass from Tom May to Alan Awcock in the centre saw the latter make good yardage.

However, the backs were unable to capitalise when a pass went above winger Chris Elder’s head.

It was Edinburgh who showed the greater composure and registered the first score of the game after a spell of pressure, when scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne slotted over a simple penalty in the 17th minute.

Welsh responded well and five minutes later got a double boost.

Edinburgh inside centre Andries Strauss went round the side of a ruck, resulting in him being sin-binned and Welsh getting a straight-forward penalty, which Elder slotted over.

With the scores level and a man advantage, this should have been the cue for Welsh to get on top.

Instead, it was the visitors who struck next and Hidalgo-Clyne put over a penalty to restore their lead.

Welsh came agonisingly close to getting a try on the half-hour mark, but No 8 Lachlan McCaffrey was pushed into touch just short of the line.

It was imperative that the hosts made use of their numerical advantage, but they failed to do so by the time Strauss returned to the field.

Indeed, it was Welsh who found themselves a man down shortly afterwards, when McCaffrey – already warned by referee Alexandre Ruiz – was sent to the sin bin for coming round the side of a ruck.

Hidalgo-Clyne slotted the resulting penalty to increase Edinburgh’s lead and Welsh managed to survive the remaining two minutes of the first half to go into the break trailing 9-3.

The visitors struck early in the second period through a Hidalgo-Clyne penalty.

Elder replied to restore the six-point deficit, however, whereas Welsh were unable to make their numerical advantage tell, Edinburgh did.

After putting together a series of phases in Welsh territory, winger Dougie Fife went over in the corner.

Hidalgo-Clyne missed the conversion, but with a 17-6 lead, the visitors had a crucial two-score lead.

With five minutes remaining, Welsh looked certain to score a try after slick passing among the backs.

Paul Rowley received the ball from Piri Weepu – on as a replacement for his first game in two months after injury – but his poor pass on was intercepted by Fife.

With Exiles lock Dean Schofield in the sin bin, the visitors scored their second try two minutes from time through flanker Roddy Grant, Greig Tonks adding the conversion.

The scoreline was a fair reflection of Edinburgh’s dominance and sees Welsh – who had made improvements in recent weeks – back to square one as they return to the Aviva Premiership with a trip to Saracens on Saturday.

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.