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Woodwork denies Zebre as Laidlaw kicks Edinburgh to victory

Three Greig Laidlaw penalties ensured Edinburgh chalked up a second straight RaboDirect PRO12 win under Stevie Scott – but Zebre came within a lick of paint of a first ever victory, only to go down 9-7.

Trailing by two points with the clock ticking down, Italy fly-half Luciano Orquera tried his luck with a drop goal, only to see his effort cannon back off the crossbar to hand Edinburgh a reprieve.

It was a case of wasted opportunities for Edinburgh who were almost made to pay, only for Zebre to fall just short of a maiden RaboDirect PRO12 victory again, making do with an eighth losing bonus point of the season.

Buoyed by their victory over Ulster, which ended a run of 11 defeats in a row, Edinburgh began brightly and took the lead after just three minutes – scrum-half Laidlaw notching his first penalty of the evening.

That stirred Zebre into life but a big hit from Piers Francis forced the knock-on and the hosts were temporarily kept at bay.

A scrappy period ensued with both sides seeming to make ground only for handling errors to creep in but as the half wore on Zebre grew in stature.

But despite enjoying plenty of territory, Edinburgh countered on 25 minutes when Kiwi centre Ben Atiga broke 50 yards up field only to see his reverse pass dropped by No.8 Netani Talei.

And it was a mistake that proved costly as Dries van Schalkwyk, among Zebre’s stand-out performers all season, forced his way over for the first try of the match and his sixth try of the RaboDirect PRO12 season.

Van Schalkywk burst onto the inside pass and cut his way under the posts before fly-half Orquera added the extras to hand Zebre a 7-3 lead.

Francis then took a pot shot with a drop goal on 36 minutes – safe in the knowledge the penalty was coming for Edinburgh – but rather than go for the posts, the visitors went for the corner.

The try was not forthcoming but Edinburgh’s pressure eventually told just a minute before the break, this time Laidlaw taking aim at the posts and making no mistake, ensuring his side trailed by just a point at the half-time interval.

Soon after the break Edinburgh brought Hamish Watson on for Ross Rennie and the visitors found themselves back in the lead on 45 minutes, Laidlaw kicking penalty number three.

Edinburgh had the momentum and earned themselves a scrum five metres from the Zebre line, only to concede a penalty and let the hosts off the hook.

Laidlaw then had the chance to extend his side’s lead on 53 minutes but he slipped at the crucial moment and missed his first effort of the night.

Edinburgh came again however and almost scored their first try of the night on 57 minutes when Greig Tonks was held up on the line after a break and offload from Francis.

It was Laidlaw’s turn to just miss out soon after as he looked certain to score when one on one with the last defender, only for the Scotland scrum-half to lose his footing.

Again Edinburgh were given the chance to give themselves some breathing space but Laidlaw was again wayward from the tee with seven minutes remaining.

And Zebre almost made them pay and came agonisingly close to snatching the lead with three minutes remaining, only for Orquera to see his drop goal strike the crossbar, leaving Edinburgh to hold on for the win.

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