Zebre stunned Edinburgh to record a first win on Scottish soil and a first victory of the Pro12 season.
Carlo Canna kicked the visitors into a 12-0 lead before second-half tries from Ross Ford and Murray McCallum looked to have spared a turgid Edinburgh’s blushes.
But winger Giovanbattista Venditti scampered home in the dying embers.
Canna converted to bring Edinburgh’s three-match winning run under acting boss Duncan Hodge to a halt.
Against a side that shipped 132 points in their past two matches, had yet to register a win this season, had never won in Scotland, and failed to score a point on their previous two visits to Murrayfield, this was simply not good enough.
The turgid manner of defeat – as well as the opposition – will harpoon much of the cautious optimism spawned by Edinburgh’s victories over Treviso, Timisoara Saracens, and most notably, Harlequins.
It left a crestfallen coach Hodge scratching his head. The squad, he claimed, had not only played with fluency and panache in those wins, but were buoyant and sharp behind the scenes too.
This was a jarring, and somewhat unfathomable defeat, and Hodge must galvanise his troops with heavyweight province Ulster in town next weekend.
Precision at a premium
The contest was deeply disrupted by errors and infringements, Edinburgh in particular guilty of spilling passes, and conceding over a dozen penalties.
It took almost 63 minutes for the hosts’ huffing and puffing to bear fruit; Ford plunging over from a maul, before McCallum drove over the whitewash in centre-field four minutes later.
At that stage, it seemed disaster had been averted, but Venditti’s score in the dying embers was a bolt from a blue, the visitors exploiting a blind-side overlap to send the winger over.
It was painfully appropriate that in the game’s final minute, as Edinburgh sought to build phases and launch a last-ditch raid, they infringed again. These were crippling inaccuracies that ultimately proved fatal.
With news of the unanimous club vote in favour of external investment in Scotland’s pro-teams, any moneymen at Murrayfield tonight will hardly have been enticed.
If there was to be a meagre crumb of comfort for Hodge, then it arrived with the continued emergence of Viliame Mata.
The towering Fijian is a mighty juggernaut in open play, his crashing into contact in this, his first home start since joining the club.
The dynamism is compelling, the canny support-play astute, but Mata’s wondrous handling is a thing of beauty, too.
Having been hauled down metres shy of the try-line, the Olympic sevens gold-medallist flipped away an incredible offload, one-handed, from the ground, looping all of 10 yards, that almost ended in a try for Tom Brown.
Edinburgh coach Duncan Hodge:“We just weren’t good enough in a lot of areas – discipline, penalty count, some issues around set piece, too many errors in attack, and a couple of defensive lapses in the end.
“We were just naive. We did well to get back in the game and just blew it at the end.
“We’d had three very good weeks, we had another good week off the pitch this week but that counts for nothing. We’ve all taken a bit of a shock, taken a hit tonight, and its a tough loss to take. We’ve now got to learn our lessons pretty quickly.”
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Damien Hoyland (Bryce 71), Chris Dean, Phil Burleigh, Tom Brown; Jason Tovey (Hidalgo-Clyne 63), Sean Kennedy; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (Ford 14), Felipe Arregui (McCallum 49), Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist (capt) (McKenzie 70), Viliame Mata, John Hardie (Du Preez 46), Magnus Bradbury.
Unused replacements: Jack Cosgrove, Michael Allen.
Zebre: Edoardo Padovani; Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello (Pratichetti 76), Giovanbattista Venditti; Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi; Andrea Lovotti, Tommaso D’Apice, Pietro Ceccarelli, Quintin Geldenhuys, George Biagi (capt), Maxime Mbanda, Johan Meyer, Andries Van Schalkwyk (Ruzza 51).
Unused replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Andrea De Marchi, Dario Chistolini, Derick Minnie, Guglielmo Palazzani, Giovanni D’Onofrio.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37789492