Failing to capitalise on a strong first half cost Edinburgh dear as they lost a game they could have won and, instead of crashing back into the play-off battle, found themselves back in the fight just to finish in the top half of the Guinness Pro12.
The only thing they did get out of the game was that Grant Gilchrist, the lock and vice captain, at last made his return from the groin muscle injury that has kept him sidelined since he left the World Cup, with a solid 25 minutes giving him hope of making a late run to international action later in the campaign.
“It is good that he is back,” said Alan Solomons, the head coach afterwards. “He is obviously still a bit ring rusty but it was really good to see him back and playing. I think he made a good fist of it tonight but he needs game time under his belt. He needs to play. He is fine after the game, and that will have done wonders for his confidence.”
What he would not do was comment on reports in France that Gilchrist has already signed to move to Toulon next season – all questions that have to be handled by Jon Petrie, the managing director, who was not available to say anything either.
The game itself was frustrating for Solomons. On the basis of the first-half performance, his side should have gone into the break with a healthy lead, but in the end they were only level and when the Ospreys stepped up the pace and intensity after the teams returned his side’s only response was to give away a string of penalties.
“I thought we played really, really well in the first half,” he said. “We had two penalties that should have gone and did not but at half time, after dominating possession and territory, we landed out going into the shed at 13-13 and that was a big factor. The second half, our discipline was poor, the penalties cost us and then the turning point came when Neil Cochrane [the hooker and captain], was sin binned.”
The real frustration was that they had shown so much potential before the break, but made silly mistakes that stopped them taking full advantage. They did kick two penalties through Greig Tonks, the full back, but he also missed two, one from in front of the posts and neither particularly difficult for a top-line kicker.
The try when it came was a beauty, with Sam Beard, the centre, setting up the attacking position with a steal, Tonks making the half break and Alan Dell, the prop, running a perfect line in support to take the scoring offload.
They kept giving away points, though, handing Sam Davies, the home stand-off, a couple of easy kicks and then failing to secure the ball on a chip kick into their 22 for Ben John, the home wing, to take it from Dougie Fife and put Sam Underhill, the flanker, in for the Ospreys’ first try.
The second half saw the Welsh claw their way back with Davies putting the kicks over and Sam Otten, the replacement hooker, adding a late try to add a home gloss to the scoreline.