EDINBURGH suffered a first defeat in this season’s European Challenge Cup when they succumbed to a powerful Bordeaux-Begles side.

But Richard Cockerill’s side can still progress to the knock-out phase of the competition as one of the best runners-up if they take all five points at home to Agen on Saturday.

Cockerill conceded that his team were second best but took consolation in the fact the hosts, on current form, are arguably the best outfit in Europe. And he insisted he had seen progress.

“Of course we’re disappointed – there are parts we could do better,” he said. “We conceded four tries, a couple of those were off turnovers in the first half. We’ve got to get better at that.

“But I think there’s some real positives. I’m never going to be happy when we lose, but it’s a tough place to come and I thought we gave a good show of ourselves. We’ve got to keep building this group and get experience and learning from it.”

Bordeaux coach Christophe Urios said during the week that he was approaching the tie as a knock-out contest, and true to his word, he selected his strongest squad.

Despite the quality of the opposition, Edinburgh made a high tempo start and early attacks by Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe stretched the Bordeaux defence. Those efforts failed to yield points, but the visitors were good value for the opening score in 10 minutes when Jaco van der Walt banged over a penalty.

In response, Bordeaux, unbeaten at home this season, finally showed up in an attacking sense, and drew level when Matthieu Jalibert was on target with a 40-metre penalty.

Graham produced another searing 70-metre break that showed Edinburgh had the tools to unlock the home defence, but Bordeaux scrambled back to halt the flying winger.

The hosts capitalised on that let-off by bagging the first try. Jalibert’s cross kick landed neatly in the arms of Semi Radradra and the Fijian thundered down the flank, crashing through two tackles, although there was a hint of a double movement as he stretched over. Jalibert slotted the conversion.

The impressive stand-off added the extras again two minutes before the interval after Radradra raced through the heart of the Edinburgh defence and off-loaded to Santiago Cordero, who dotted down in the corner.

That was the final scoring of the half, but Edinburgh proved they were up for the fight when they claimed the first points of the second half. With Bordeaux applying renewed pressure, Mark Bennett plucked a loose pass out of the air and fed Hamish Watson who sent van der Merwe hurtling over from 60 metres, with van der Walt converting.

However, a fumble at the restart handed the initiative back to the hosts and they profited from that when substitute Yann Lesgourgues darted in just a few seconds after coming on. Jalibert again converted then added a penalty to extend the margin to 17 points. Bordeaux secured the bonus point when Peni Kovakalou crashed over from close range.

Edinburgh had the last word when Mark Bennett raced in for a try with Simon Hickey converting.

Scorers, Bordeaux-Begles – Tries: Radradra, Cordero, Lesgourgues, Ravai. Cons: Jalibert 3. Pens: Jalibert 2.

Edinburgh: Tries: Van Der Merwe, Bennett.

Cons: Van Der Walt, Hickey. Pens: Van Der Walt.

Bordeaux-Begles: Ducuing, Cros, Radradra, Lamerat, Cordero, Jalibert, Lucu, Poirot, Maynadier, Cobilas, Douglas, Cazeaux, Roumat, Woki, Higginbotham. Replacements: Dubie for Lamerat (63), Meret for Jalibert (75),

Lesgourgues for Lucu (57), Ravai for Poirot (63),

Pelissie for Maynadier (59), Kaulashvili for Cobilas (51), Marais for Cazeaux (51), Diaby for Woki (57).

Edinburgh: Kinghorn, Graham, Bennett, Scott, Van Der Merwe, Van Der Walt, Groom, Sutherland, Willemse, Berghan, Thomson, Carmichael, Bradbury, Watson, Mata. Replacements: Johnstone for Scott (41), Hickey for Van Der Walt (63), Shiel for Groom (63), Schoeman for Sutherland (51), Cherry for Willemse (51), Ceccarelli for Berghan (51), Crosbie for Watson (67), Barclay for Mata (15).

Referee: Tom Foley (England). Att: 17,553