Edinburgh’s losing streak rose to nine in a row but this was a game that they might have won if they had taken their chances. They had scoring opportunities when the game was still in the balance, butchered them and were given a lesson in the importance of finishing.
In the end, not only did the Italians win, but they might have won by more as they came through to dominate the final stages of a game that had been in the balance until well into the final quarter.
“We did have a couple of chances but they dominated a fair amount of the time, defensively they were hard to put down, they won the collisions and we did not get much quick ball,” said Duncan Hodge, the head coach, afterwards.
“Set piece was an issue. Conditions were difficult, in terms of teams and confidence it is hard when you are not winning the set piece battle. We are on a bad run, it doesn’t matter who the opposition was, it is damaging. Treviso proved a couple of weeks ago here [when they beat the Ospreys] that they are not a bad side, but this was our doing.”
With a late-afternoon storm and a steady drizzle as the game kicked off it was never going to be much of a spectacle, and so it proved. The entire opening quarter was wasted on a pointless kicking duel as both sides looked for position rather than risk handing their opponents an opening.
It was hard to watch, but probably inevitable. Treviso were anchored to the foot of the table, and Edinburgh on that losing streak, so the odds were firmly against either side taking risks and the match was almost inevitably going to be decided on mistakes.
Edinburgh’s Damien Hoyland was handed a chance to run against a disorganised defence and needed no second invitation, though it says everything about Edinburgh’s lack of confidence that with a two-man overlap on the right after the cover caught him, they instead tried to muscle over with the forwards and had to settle for a Jason Tovey penalty.
It was a sort-lived lead, as the Italians got a penalty of their own almost straight from the kick off for Ian McKinley to level the scores. They then turned to the best weapon they had, with a scrum penalty presenting him with the chance to put his side ahead, which he took.
A moment of brilliance from Eduardo Gori, the Treviso scrum-half, earned their next chance, his clever kick forcing the Scots to concede a five-metre scrum. The Italians were held out the first time illegally but scrummed again and this time went over the line for Roberto Barbieri to grab the opening try.
McKinley converted and though the Scots managed to hold out to half-time, Treviso got another penalty almost straight from the restart to increase their lead still further.
Edinburgh were still having patches of positive play and should have got more from a five-metre scrum after Phil Burleigh’s attempted offload was picked off by a Treviso defender, but against a superior scrum they could not take advantage and again had to settle for a penalty.
The importance of that moment was soon demonstrated when Treviso went on the attack, Gori spotted a gap and his colleagues had the confidence to spin the ball wide to where Angel Esposito was waiting to run in the try.
In fact they could have had two more in the dying minutes with the TMO, rather than Edinburgh’s defence, coming to the rescue as he ruled in Edinburgh’s favour first on a grounding and then on a forward pass in the build-up.