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Racing Metro 19 Edinburgh 9: Home to think again

A maddening evening for Edinburgh.

They controlled huge swathes of the game, put their French opponents under savage pressure at times, but lacked the composure and accuracy to capitalise. Racing were no more than solid, obdurate and awkward, but those qualities were quite enough to close out the game.

And so ends the visitors' Heineken Cup dream for another season. Last season's run to the semi-finals gave them a glimpse of what might be, but they have come crashing back to earth with three successive defeats in this year's competition. This was far from being their worst performance of an ill-fated campaign, but they will reflect on an overall showing that was not remotely good enough to live with the European elite.

Edinburgh went into the game with the embarrassing distinction of being the first side in tournament history to go through their first two pool games without scoring a single point, but they were clearly determined to prevent that record stretching to three matches. The Scots began with urgency and boldness, and the game was barely two minutes old when Greig Laidlaw made a belated impact on the scoreboard, hammering over a penalty after a Racing player flew into a ruck from the side.

It was a promising start, but it was also horribly at odds with the patterns of the remainder of the first half. Racing weathered that early Edinburgh storm and, little by little, took ownership of the game. Olly Barkley, the former Bath fly-half, controlled the territory brilliantly, repeatedly turning the visitors' defence with probing kicks, while wingers Virimi Vakatawa and Juan Imhoff regularly set the alarm bells ringing with their spearing runs for the line.

Edinburgh mopped things up well enough in the middle of the pitch, but the more they were sucked into the contact points the more likely it was that Racing would capitalise out wide. That was exactly what transpired in the 19th minute when Barkley's lateral run set up a chace for Imhoff near the left touchline. The Argentine wing seemed to be covered by Tom Brown, but he sidestepped his opponent brilliantly and squeezed over for his try.

Barkley failed with the conversion attempt, but penalties either side of Imhoff's try pushed Racing into an 11-3 lead. At that point, another try for the Parisiens would probably have ended the contest there and then, but Edinburgh girded themselves and began to dictate a few terms of their own. They were unlucky not to make anything of a line-out in the right-hand corner a few minutes before the interval, but they accepted the consolation of a penalty award soon afterwards, Laidlaw clipping it over to bring up the 11-6 half-time scoreline.

The visitors started the second period in sprightly fashion, with Richie Rees, the lively scrum-half, moving the point of attack cleverly and testing Racing around the fringes. Tim Visser put Dave Denton into space with a sublime reverse pass, but despite some brilliant recycling they lacked sharpness and luck near the try line and the scoreboard deficit remained.

Racing's muscular forwards then subjected Edinburgh to a series of onslaughts, leading to an almost inevitable try in the 62nd minute when a driving maul from a line-out propelled Bernard Le Roux over the line.

A Laidlaw penalty a couple of minutes later brought things back to 15-9, before Brown was carried off with what looked like a serious knee injury and Lee Jones came on as his replacement.

For a few minutes, Edinburgh looked refreshed by the change, but as much as they continued to edge the territorial battle, a new glut of mistakes meant they did little with the ground they gained. Piers Francis, their new fly-half, took over from Rees, with Laidlaw going to scrum-half, but the error count grew.

So it fell to Racing to finish things off, with a 77th-minute penalty from Maxime Machenaud bringing up the final scoreline. Racing are not exactly giants of the European game just yet, but they were still comfortably better than their Scottish opponents.

Racing Metro: J M Hernandez; V Vakatawa, G

Bousses, F Estebanez (A Dumoulin, 64), J Imhoff; O Barkley, S Descons (M Machenaud, 69); J Brugnaut, T Bianchin (E Ben Arous, 55), B Sa (J P Orlandi, 56), F Metz (B Le Roux, 55), F Van der Merwe, A Batut (C Gerondeau, 66), J Cronje (J Quovo, 55), M Matadigo.

Subs: D Szarzewski, E Arous, J P Orlandi, B Le Roux, J Nailiko, C Gerondeau, M Machenaud, A Dumoulin.

Edinburgh: G Tonks; T Brown, N De Luca, M Scott, T Visser; G Laidlaw, R Rees (P Francis, 52); J Yapp (A Jacobsen, 62), R Ford ( A Titterrell, 62), G Cross (W Nel, 43), G Gilchrist, S Cox (P Parker, 63), D Denton, R Grant, S McInally. Subs: A Titterrell, A Jacobsen, W Nel, P Parker, R McAlpine, P Francis, D Fife, L Jones.

Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

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