EDINBURGH coach Richard Cockerill had no complaints about the score and few criticisms to make of his side as their heaviest defeat of the season saw them knocked out of the Champions Cup.

They remained just about in contention for the first hour of yesterday’s game in the Paris La Defense Arena, but in the end were simply outclassed by Racing 92.

“They’re a powerful team: powerful starting team, powerful bench, and we couldn’t cope with it,” Cockerill said after seeing his side concede seven tries - five of them in the last quarter of the match - in the last-16 tie. “Look at their squad, look at our squad: anybody with any sense at all knows that man for man they’re probably stronger.

“Ultimately they were too good for us, simple as that. There’s no disgrace coming here and losing, but obviously the margin of the result looks pretty ugly for us.

“Let’s be realistic. Let’s not pretend that we were one of the favourites coming into the competition to win it. We are where we are and we have to build from there. We have to have a measured view of our expectations. I don’t expect to get beaten by the score we got beaten by today, but it happens and you have to manage it and get on with it.”

The suspended Finn Russell was a notable absentee from the home ranks, but they still had creativity in abundance through backs such as Virimi Vakatawa and Kurtley Beale. It was hooker Camille Chat who stood out in the first half, however, as Racing took the game to their opponents after a couple of early chances went begging for Edinburgh. 

After Maxime Machenaud had opened the scoring with a penalty and Blair Kinghorn had equalised, Racing steadily got on top. Tries by Chat and Machenaud late in the half, with the scrum-half converting both, gave them a 20-3 lead. Edinburgh came close to hitting back on the brink of half-time through Hamish Watson, but the Six Nations Player of the Championship was held up over the line.

A penalty from Antoine Gibert [correct Gibert no l] was the only score in the third quarter as Edinburgh fought hard to stay in the game, but in the last 20 minutes Racing took full advantage of their fatigued opponents. Joseph scored their third try from a metre out after a tap penalty, then replacement prop Guram Gogichashvili got their fourth after a long, relentless attack. 

Teddy Iribaren converted both to take the score to 37-3, then in the final minutes Racing added three more tries. Substitute Teddy Thomas grabbed two, and his fellow-replacement Francois Trinh-Duc got the last, while Iribaren was on target with two out of the three.

“We’ve got tired guys and we’re chasing the game and it happens,” Cockerill added when asked about the concession of so many late scores. “If you’re chasing the game against a team like this, then you’re going to create opportunities for them if you turn the ball over. We did and they took them.

“These guys are as good as Test-match teams, aren’t they? That’s a very good side, and if we don’t front up or are not in the right frame of mind for any part of the game, it costs you. It cost us today and it was a pretty tough experience for us.”