Full-back Blair Kinghorn’s bold attempt at a penalty from just inside his own half with the last kick of the game fell agonisingly short as Munster sneaked a 10-9 win at Myreside last night.
It means the Irish have now completed a clean sweep in their four Guinness Pro12 matches against the two Scottish teams this season, plus a couple over Glasgow in Europe, and the victory took them top of the table.
Ahead of the Myreside move the Edinburgh managing director Jonny Petrie had looked ahead with anticipation to this Munster clash and the visit of Cardiff later in the month the night before the Wales international at Murrayfield.
Petrie hoped it would bring back memories of the traditional eve of Five and Six Nations games of years gone which were regularly held at grounds like Myreside, with the former Scotland flanker and his coach Duncan Hodge playing in many an age grade, A match or district challenge.
Despite the disappointment of the result, and the error-strewn nature of the game, a big crowd, boosted by a large contingent of Irish in town for the big one today, made for an excellent atmosphere and took the Myreside experiment on another step from its debut last month with the European Challenge Cup quarter-final clinching win over Timisoara Saracens.
The visitors have seven players in today’s Test 23 to Edinburgh’s five and the home side were able to field practically a first-choice backline, with only Duncan Weir missing.
In the forwards they were boosted by the return of Scotland flanker John Hardie from injury – he played 66 minutes – and included Ben Toolis and Cornell du Preez, both of whom were released from the national camp for the game.
Edinburgh started brightly and forged ahead through a Jason Tovey penalty but the response from Munster was impressive and they became the first away team to score a try at the revamped Watsonians ground when a series of rapid assaults on home line saw the Edinburgh defence buckle and wing Ronan O’Mahony crashed over, with skipper and stand-off Tyler Bleyendaal converting.
A deliberate knock-on gave Edinburgh the chance to get within a point and Welshman Tovey made no mistake with the penalty opportunity.
The home pack then forced a scrum penalty and Tovey was again on target to nudge his side into the lead with six minutes left in the opening half.
Munster strained every sinew to try and wrest the half-time advantage but were met with fierce Edinburgh defence.
Sustained pressure was applied but not an inch was given with a series of bone-shuddering tackles and defensive drives which earned a raucous standing ovation from the main stand as the home players made their way down the tunnel at the break.
Munster dominated possession in the second half but the match continued to unfold as a scrappy arm-wrestle, with kicks out on the full becoming a regular feature – especially from the men in red.
There was no scoring for the first 27 minutes of the half before the pressure told on Edinburgh and they transgressed in front of their posts 25 yards out to allow Bleyendaal to bang over three points and reclaim the lead for the Irish province. For all the sweat and toil that followed it proved the decisive blow as Kinghorn fell short.
Edinburgh interim coach Duncan Hodge said: “We’re frustrated but I’d say they deserved to win the game.
“We struggled to get out of our half and then a penalty in front of the sticks is what wins them the game. Perhaps we are inexperienced and young. We should be winning games like that.
“Blair had to go for it. On a night like this we couldn’t go to the corner.”