Edinburgh’s chances of Champions Cup qualification were dealt a major blow as they lost to Munster on Friday night.
After coming away from Irish Independent (Musgrave) Park empty-handed, Alan Solomons’ side are now five points adrift of Munster, who moved into sixth place with the bonus point win.
They crossed for the first of their tries inside the first 10 minutes, when Rory Scannell rounded off a well-worked team move to score out wide. Holland converted to make it 7-0.
Jason Tovey, a revelation since joining from Dragons, reduced the gap with a penalty, and then took centre stage with a superb solo try. He broke the line, before excellent footwork took the Welsh stand-off under the posts for his first try for the club. Converting, Tovey’s 10-point haul gave the visitors a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
That awoke the hosts, though, who crossed through Ireland full-back Simon Zebo and wing Andrew Conway before the half was over to put them in control of the match.
Zebo scored off a first-phase breakaway, while Conway scampered over in the corner after good work by Munster skipper CJ Stander.
Tovey’s second penalty reduced the gap to seven points at the break.
The ex-Dragons man reduced the gap again with his third penalty attempt shortly after the break.
And after an improved second half performance, with good showings from bench reinforcements Stuart McInally, Rory Sutherland and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Solomons’ men were within a point when the Scotland scrum-half landed a penalty of his own on 65 minutes.
Munster, though, were not to be denied and sealed victory when Francis Saili went over with 10 minutes to go. He danced through the Edinburgh defence to score under the posts, meaning an easy conversion.
That left the capital side chasing the game, but they were unable to leave with even a losing bonus, all-but ending their Champions Cup challenge.
Pass marks again for the impact of the bench and the on-loan Tovey, but a disappointing result for an Edinburgh side who knew they really needed a win… Challenge Cup rugby will have to wait once more.
They will, though, look to put on a show in their final home game of the season, against Cardiff Blues on Saturday.