Howells sees the positives after anguish in Agen

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The Independent Online

Edinburgh's coach Lynn Howells was a desperately disappointed man after watching his side come within minutes of causing a mighty upset and becoming the first Scottish side to win a Heineken Cup match in France on Friday night.

A brilliant late try by Edinburgh's Canadian winger Mike Pyke had looked like tilting the balance in favour of Howell's team after a stirring fightback, leaving them 17-16 ahead going into the last few minutes. But a stray hand on the ball in a ruck gave Agen's substitute François Gelez the chance to snatch the game from under Edinburgh's noses and he gleefully thumped the ball through the uprights just two minutes from time.

"I am very, very disappointed with the outcome because we were by far the better side and we should have won the game." Howell said afterwards. "It is always difficult to come to France and get a positive result, so I suppose it is some consolation to get a losing bonus point."

Howells added: "People say that Edinburgh are a team with no character. We saw in this match that their notion is simply not true. To fight back from 13-0 down at a hostile venue like this was a tremendous achievement. The fact is that we have character - and lots of it.

"We are still young in our development as a squad and I was delighted with the way that the scrum in particular worked. They were much better than they have been and they gave us something to work off.

"But we do need to be more clinical in the attacking zone. We dominated the second half, but perhaps were not clinical enough when it mattered."

Edinburgh were 16-3 behind at half time, having conceded two tries, while scoring just one penalty through Phil Godman, but raised their game dramatically after the break. Godman landed three quick penalties to set the nerves jangling as Edinburgh closed to within four points. Pyke's try from Godman's neat chip through the defence put then in front with five minutes left. But then came the finale which left Edinburgh empty- handed.

The Borders, meanwhile, racked up a comphrehensive 35-3 win against Overmarch Parma, but even that didn't satisfy coach Steve Bates. He saw his side run in five tries and then said: "We didn't keep the foot on the pedal the way we should have done.

"Having crossed the Parma line three times in the first half, we should have stepped up the pressure and really killed them off. "We won easily enough in the end, but I would have preferred to see the guys keep the foot on the gas all the way through."

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