The Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw last night admitted that he and his Edinburgh players had let themselves down as they were dumped out of European competition with a 38-6 drubbing by Munster at Thomond Park.

"I'm not going to take anything away from Munster," said Laidlaw. "They played well and they won. But we are disappointed with our own performance. We let ourselves down, we've let [coach] Alan [Solomons] and the boys down as well. It was just a poor performance and it's tough to take because we had been progressing as the season went on. It is a poor day for us."

A win in Limerick would have been enough to earn Edinburgh a place in the second-tier Amlin Cup, but Munster, needing a bonus-point win to secure a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup, always seemed the more motivated side. Six tries gave them what they wanted with something to spare.

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However, there was controversy as well as Edinburgh were clearly furious with the yellow-carding of Cornell du Preez, their influential flanker, just before the interval. Du Preez was sent to the sin bin for the way he cleared former Lions captain Paul O'Connell out of a ruck, but many observers considered the decision harsh.

"Cornell going off was a major, major moment in the game," said Solomons. "The referee sent the decision up to the television match official and they felt the clean-out of the ruck was foul play.

"I would have to study it a bit more to make further comment but it was a big moment in the game. It had a major influence because they got a try after half-time to take them to 19-6 when we were down to 14 men and from that moment the game started to get beyond us.

"We lost momentum when we were down to 14 men and against a team like Munster they will always take full advantage. Those 10 minutes were a key factor for us and once they were over the game was gone for us."

However, Solomons made it clear that Munster were still a far better side and thoroughly deserved their win, regardless of the yellow card incident. But he also said he expected his side to learn from the experience.

Solomons added: "I said to the players that they had learned a valuable lesson. It is all about performing well, and if we are 10 or 15% off our game against a quality side that is totally on their game we will take a beating.

"Every time you sustain a loss, particularly when you are beaten well like we were, it is a knock. But if you look back we went down to a similar margin against the Ospreys and Ulster and bounced back, and we can do that again. We just didn't play well and they played really well. It is a one-off so you have to see it in context and see it in perspective. Sure, it is a knock to the self-esteem but the bottom line is that there is no reason why it should affect us at all."

Munster head coach Rob Penney said securing a home Heineken Cup quarter-final was a great result for his team, and their supporters. "We spoke of our magnificent supporters, who follow us around Europe and everywhere we go," said the New Zealander. The tie will be their 15th cup quarter-final in 16 seasons.

"For the lads, it was a small reward for them to be able to come and watch us at home, for the season ticket holders to be able to come and watch them play at Thomond Park. As a cauldron it is a very difficult place for any team to come. To have that opportunity to play one more European Cup game on our home ground is a wonderful reward for the lads' efforts."