A below-par Edinburgh were beaten 26-13 by Zebre in poor weather conditions in Saturday's PRO12 clash at Stadio XXV Aprile.
Tim Visser's first appearance in six months failed to inspire an Edinburgh victory, as they slumped to a disappointing loss against the league's bottom side. Barring a miracle, it is looking like the Scottish outfit will miss out on next season's top European competition.
They harboured hopes of a bonus point victory before the game, but were unable to cope with Zebre's physical style of play. Carl Bezuidenhout's penalty after just a minute would have had the Italians worried that they were in for a long day at the office, but they responded well, dominating possession and going very close to the game's opening score.
After a good period of pressure, Samuela Vunisa had the try line at his mercy, but the Fijian knocked on. Luciano Orquera's three pointer did level the scores soon after though. Zebre played with a confident swagger which belied their league standing, and were rewarded with the first try of the afternoon.
With typical Italian brute force, winger Giovanbattista Venditti smashed through a couple of attempted tackles and smashed the ball down to give Zebre the lead. Gonzalo Garcia's unorthodox kicking style may not be pleasing on the eye, but it did the business on the half hour mark. His strike from distance boosted the crowd's spirits in Parma as they extended their lead.
Edinburgh would have rather been going for the tries they needed to secure a bonus point, but had to settle for chasing the game through the boot of Bezuidenhout, who got the visitors to within five points with his own long distance effort.
Garcia was at it again soon though. His huge kick from the half way line put Zebre in eight points ahead at half time. The away side did click into gear after the break, as Visser fed a lovely inside ball for Matt Scott, who strolled in under the posts to put the Scot's within a point of their hosts.
They didn't keep up their impressive start to the half though, gifting a try to Zebre thanks to some rather weak defending. Captain Quintin Geldenhuys battered his way through the away side's line, before offloading to Filippo Cristiano who was given the simplest of scores. Dion Berryman's late try under the posts put the final nail in the Edinburgh coffin, as they headed home without a losing bonus point.
Tries: Venditti, Cristiano, Berryman
Cons: Orquera 2
Pens: Garcia 2
Pens: Bezuidenhout 2
Zebre: 15 David Odiete, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Filippo Cristiano, 5 George Biagi, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Davide Giazzoni, 1 Matias Aguero
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dave Ryan, 19 Michael van Vuren, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Kameli Ratuvou, 23 Dion Berryman.
Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Dave Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Toolis, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Sam Beard.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire)
Assistant referees: Matteo Liperini, Andrea Spadoni (both Ita)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Ita)