Edinburgh maintained their winning ways at BT Murrayfield last night to move third in the Guinness PRO12 but fell short of a bonus point against basement dwellers Treviso.
Man of the match Damien Hoyland got two scores either side of a penalty try but his second came in the last move of the match with any hopes of a four-point win gone.
After gorging on the seasonal delights of the 1872 Cup glory, it was very much back to cold cabbage for Edinburgh on a cold night at a national stadium that was, as expected, a far cry from the 23,642 who packed in for that first win over Glasgow.
More than 20,000 fewer pitched up for the visit of the Italian basement boys and the hardy regulars were rewarded with a victory, albeit one that was workmanlike rather than sparkling.
“I’m pleased to get the win but disappointed not to get the bonus point,” said Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons. “After the two massive wins over Glasgow we dropped our level a bit, which was to be expected, but it’s frustrating to have left three clear tryscoring opportunities out there in the first half which would have completely changed the complexion of the game.”
Treviso are in the depths of a deep depression, having not won a game since last February and failing to triumph outside Italy since May 2013.
That said they did run Glasgow close at Scotstoun at the end of November, and Edinburgh only beat them by three points away early in the season before losing to the Pro12’s other Italian side Zebre in Parma.
So there was no room for any complacency and Treviso were predictably stuffy in the first 40 minutes.
Things were looking rosy after 14 minutes when the home side stretched out to a 10-0 lead courtesy of a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty and a try in the left corner from wing Hoyland, which was expertly converted from the touchline by the scrum-half.
However, despite another slaloming break by Hoyland and an impressive dart from Scotland tighthead WP Nel they couldn’t make any further inroads before the break and, even more frustratingly, the Italians pegged it back to a four-point lead with two penalties by James Ambrosini.
Edinburgh did manage to get the scoreboard ticking over again seven minutes into the second period as Hidalgo-Clyne made no mistake with a straight-forward penalty chance.
Clearly taking inspiration from his fellow prop’s burst in the first half, young loosehead Rory Sutherland was the next home player to pin his ears back with a surge into the opposing 22. The attack fizzled but another penalty followed soon after and again Hidalgo-Clyne was on target to reopen that ten-point advantage with half an hour left to play.
Blair Kinghorn, who had come off the bench to replace full-back Jack Cuthbert then had a go and, after a penalty to the corner, Edinburgh’s potent scrum finally got to turn the screw on the flagging Italians and when the formidable drive was prevented from getting over the line the Irish referee Gary Conway had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try.
Hidalgo-Clyne’s extras from in front of the posts, which made it 23-6, proved to be his last task of the evening and he was replaced by Sean Kennedy. There was a more significant change in the 63rd minute when Stuart McInally replaced Neil Cochrane at hooker to make his first appearance for the club since April.
He was soon under the posts with the rest of his team-mates though as Treviso showed they weren’t done yet as full-back Luke McLean joined the forward drive after a lineout and forced his way over. Ambrosini converted to take it back to a ten-point game.
There was a further blow when Kinghorn was forced back to the bench and replaced by Andries Strauss as we entered the final ten minutes.
After Hoyland squirmed over for a third touchdown after Ornell Gega had been yellow carded, Greig Tonks hit the post with the conversion attempt.
Edinburgh: Tries: Hoyland (2), penalty try; Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne (2); Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne (3)
Treviso: Try: McLean; Con: Ambrosini; Pens: Ambrosini (2)
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; D Fife, M Allen, M Scott, D Hoyland, G Tonks, S Hidalgo-Clyne; R Sutherland, N Cochrane, WP Nel, A Bresler, A Toolis, M Coman (c), J Hardie, C Du Preez. Subs: S McInally, A Dell, J Andress, J Ritchie, M Bradbury, S Kennedy, B Kinghorn, A Strauss
Treviso: L McLean; A Pratichetti, S Christie, A Sgarbi, S Ragusi, J Ambrosini, C Smylie; M Zanusso, R Santamaria, S Manu, F Paulo, J Montauriol, M Barbini, A Zanni (c), R Barbieri. Subs: O Gega, C Traorè, A De Marchi, T Palmer, F Minto, M Lazzaroni, A Lucchese, E Bacchin
Referee: G Conway (IRFU)