Edinburgh’s Champions Cup bid suffered another blow as they were overpowered 22-10 by Munster at Murrayfield.
Richard Cockerill has refused to give up hope his capital outfit can clinch one of the three European places on offer from Conference B of the Guinness PRO14.
But time is running out for second-bottom Edinburgh to rescue the situation after their seventh defeat of a miserable campaign.
Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue and Craig Casey gave the conference leaders a deserved half-time lead and while Bill Mata struck back for the Scots just after the break, it was the visitors who proved the more clinical as they added a third score through Gavin Coombes.
Edinburgh still have five games left to play but sit 11 points behind Scarlets in third, who have played two games more than Cockerill’s side.
Munster coughed up four penalties inside the opening nine minutes but all Edinburgh could muster from those gifts was a solitary Jaco van der Walt penalty which was soon cancelled out by JJ Hanrahan at the other end.
The story of Edinburgh’s season has been costly missed chances and yet again a bout of white-line fever left Cockerill feeling sick.
They were handed a golden opportunity by Andrew Conway’s knock-on 10 metres from the Munster line.
Eroni Sau led the charge before Andrew Davidson tried to bulldoze his way in to score – only to met by a wall of seven red jerseys who simply refused to buckle.
Gavin Coombes was also held up mere inches from the line for the visitors but the difference was Munster had the perseverance to go again, with O’Donoghue bending his body one way then the other as he rolled over Dave Cherry to dot down the opening score after 30 minutes.
Van der Walt overcooked the kick-off as Edinburgh followed up one mistake with another to find themselves immediately back under pressure.
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Chris Cloete opted for the sneak attack with a tap and go. He was held up, O’Donoghue too but scrum-half Casey was small enough to fit through a chink in the Edinburgh line as he gave the Irishmen a 14-point lead at the break.
But it took just six minutes for the capital club to hit back after the restart.
Henry Pyrgos gained Cockerill’s team some much-needed territory with a brilliant low kick to touch. Munster choked on the exit and ended up handing back seven points to the hosts as Mata eventually barged over.
But those Edinburgh gains were soon wiped out. A big scrum shunt saw the hosts pinned back into their own 22. Casey’s snipe was caught just before the line but Coombes had the power to crash over for Munster’s third try on 57 minutes.
All hope for the Murrayfield men was lost as they saw five minutes of grunting come to nothing as they failed to convert from five yards out after a series of huge collisions and collapsed scrums.
There was a worrying sight before the final whistle as Davidson had to be taken off the field on a stretcher wearing a neck brace.
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