A GUTSY but error-strewn performance from London Irish saw them lose for the sixth week in a row, going down 37-14 to Edinburgh in their opening European Challenge Cup Pool Four game at Madejski Stadium this afternoon, writes Richard Ashton.

The visitors dominated the initial skirmishes, but let Irish off the hook when fly half Jason Tovey missed a straight-forward penalty inside the opening five minutes.

Indeed it was Irish who would take the lead, Theo Brophy Clews landing an excellent penalty from 30 metres out on the right-hand side of the pitch.

Sadly, that was as good as it got for Exiles, who conceded two tries in rapid order early in the second quarter.

Firstly, wing Damien Holroyd darted his way past four London Irish defenders to touch down on the right, a combination of fine finishing, but also lacklustre defending.

Tovey’s conversion made it 7-3, and things got worse for the home side just before the half-hour mark when Holroyd scorched down the wing. He was stopped short of the line, but when Edinburgh fed the ball down the line, centre Junior Rasolea – who performed superbly throughout – crossed the whitewash for an unconverted score.

Exiles hit back, though, with a procession of attacks close to the Edinburgh try-line ultimately gaining their reward as prop Ollie Hoskins barged his way over just to the right of the uprights. Inexplicably, Brophy Clews missed the conversion, and when Tovey slotted a penalty at the other end shortly after, the gap was seven points rather than the two it might have been.

A third Edinburgh try arrived courtesy of man-of-the-match Rasolea, who showed his pace to race clear of the Irish defence, before also showcasing enough power to stay on his feet under pressure and dot down. Tovey again failed to add to the score from the tee, and with Brophy Clews landing a penalty shortly before half time, Irish went into the break trailing 20-11.

Brophy Clews’ inconsistent kicking saw him miss another shot early in the second half, although he made amends to cut the gap to 20-14 when Edinburgh were penalised at the breakdown following a magnificent 50-metre break from Joe Cokanasiga.

Yet Irish shot themselves in the foot by gifting three points straight back to their opponents, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne bisecting the uprights from 35 metres after Exiles had needlessly gone off side.

If Irish were to gain anything from the game they needed to score next, and they came almightily close when another magnificent Cokanasiga burst took them just short of the line. However, a knock-on proved costly and was arguably their last real opportunity.

Edinburgh became gradually stronger as the half went on, with Irish’s defence under strong pressure.

They did put up a resolute showing, but after Conor Gilsenan was sin-binned in the last 10 minutes for illegally bringing down a maul, Edinburgh sensed their chance/ Firstly, after wave after wave of attacks, John Ritchie burrowed over to earn the Scottish side their try bonus point, and with the last play of the game, replacement back row Luke Crosbie showed tremendous power to fight off three Irish defenders and run to the line from the 22. Hidalg0-Clyne’s conversion brought the final whistle and an unflattering scoreline against Irish, albeit they certainly deserved to lose the game.

Things get no easier for London Irish, who travel to reigning champions Stade Francais next Saturday (7.45pm)