Edinburgh Rugby will need to avoid losing to Bordeaux Begles at BT Murrayfield on Friday to clinch their place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup – and even a draw might not be enough.
Alan Solomons’ men let a 13-3 lead slip at the Stade Matmut as a late drop-goal from Lyon’s Fabrice Estabenez clinched a tight 21-19 victory over the Capital outfit.
That result ended Edinburgh’s four match unbeaten run in the competition but fate still remains in their own hands even though Bordeaux Begles completed a routine 26-3 victory over group whipping boys London Welsh 24 hours earlier.
Victory would ensure safe passage to the knock-out stages but a low scoring draw without a try bonus point could allow Lyon to leapfrog the top pair.
Lyon would need to thrash London Welsh by more than 26 points and score four tries along the way for a bonus.
At one stage in Lyon, it appeared that Edinburgh would send out a strong statement by romping clear but the Frenchmen pegged them back and the reason for that, according to coach Solomons, was fatigue.
“We were not on our game,” said the South African. “We’d had two massive games against Glasgow and Connacht and two back-to-back away games and it showed.”
Edinburgh came out of the blocks like an Olympic sprinter notching eight points in as many minutes. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne booted over a penalty with just minutes on the clock after Lyon collapsed a scrum and then Tim Visser scampered clear to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Lyon woke up and came into the game and Lachie Munro struck a long-range penalty, but Edinburgh were next to cross the whitewash. Dougie Fife kept his cool amid a scrappy phase of play to scoop the ball up and burrow over in the corner. Hidalgo-Clyne could not convert, but Edinburgh led 13-3.
The momentum shifted on the half-hour mark when Matt Scott was sin-binned for repeated infringements at the break-down and Lyon capitalised just before half-time as Romain Loursac crossed the whitewash and Munro converted for a 13-10 interval scoreline.
Hidalgo-Clyne added to Edinburgh’s lead with a penalty but Lyon’s Damien Fitzpatrick made Jack Cuthbert pay for a fumble to make it 16-15.
Jérôme Porical then bagged a penalty to edge Lyon ahead for the first-time only for Hidalgo-Clyne to reply as Edinburgh grimly tried to cling on to a 19-18 lead. Alas, it was not enough as Estebanez struck the winning drop-goal with just five minutes to go after incessant pressure on the Edinburgh 22.
Lyon: Tries – Loursac, Fitzpatrick. Cons – Munro. Pens – Munro, Porical. Drop-goal – Estebanez
Edinburgh: Tries – Visser, Fife. Pens – Hidalgo-Clyne (3)
Lyon: Loursac; Bonnefond, Sukanaveita, Estebanez, Regard, Munro, Ricky Januarie; Balan, Fitzpatrick, Pungea, De Marco, Njewel, Cerqueira, Ghezal, Matadigo. Subs: Colliat, Mavinga, Roux, Viljoen, Nzi, Loree, Tison, Porical
Edinburgh: Cuthbert; Fife, Scott, Burleigh, Visser, Tonks, Hidalgo-Clyne; Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Bresler, B Toolis, Coman, Grant, Denton. Subs: Cochrane, Sutherland, Andress, McKenzie, Watson, Kennedy, Te Rure, Strauss.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Pool 4 Standings
P W D L F A Pts
Edinburgh 5 4 0 1 108 70 17
Bordeaux Begles 5 3 0 2 156 104 16
Lyon 5 3 0 2 132 127 14
London Welsh 5 0 0 5 60 155 0
Round 5 Results
Pool 1: Cardiff Blues 104 Femi-CZ Rovigo Rugby 12; London Irish 43 Grenoble 41.
Pool 2: Bayonne 14 La Rochelle 0; Connacht X Exeter Chiefs X.
Pool 3: Stade Francais 47 Bucharest Wolves 12; Newcastle Falcons 29 Newport Gwent Dragons 40.
Pool 4: Bordeaux Begles 26 London Welsh 3; Lyon 21 Edinburgh Rugby 19.
Pool 5: Gloucester 33 Oyonnax 3; Zebre 23 Brive 13