ANOTHER tight game, another narrow defeat for Edinburgh. This Challenge Cup quarter-final was a different beast in some respects to the URC loss at home to Ulster a week earlier, but the impression gleaned from it remains the same: as things stand, the capital club do not quite have what it takes to win at this level.

As Mike Blair insisted afterwards, the home team played some excellent rugby, as indeed they have done all season. But their scrum squeaked badly in the first half until Pierre Schoeman was brought off the bench to shore things up, and in the end they performed wonders simply to stay in contention after 17 unanswered points from early in the second half appeared to have put Wasps firmly in control.

A lengthy injury list is clearly a major problem for Edinburgh at this stage of the season, and the lack of game-changers on the bench other than Schoeman was a glaring deficiency. Blair is hopeful that the list will have shortened somewhat by the time his team play their next match, the 1872 Cup tie against Glasgow on 21 May that will determine their status in the URC play-offs as well as possibly deciding whether they will play in the Champions Cup next season or again be in the subsidiary competition.

Analysing this match, the coach insisted that he had been proud of his team’s efforts, but  admitted that they had also been their own worst enemies on occasion. “I thought we played some brilliant rugby at times,” Blair said. “We took our opportunities better than last week, although we probably still left a couple out there, and defended with a huge amount of heart. 

“But just a few things, like a couple of kick-offs that we lost where we had fought that momentum back - it was like bursting a balloon. Suddenly you're up against it again, and that can have a big impact. So that was disappointing.

“I've such mixed emotions, similar to the Ulster game. I'm so proud of lots of the positive stuff we did, but we undid it with a couple of little brain farts or decisions that went against us.”

Blair accepted that some of the decisions against his team by referee Pierre Brousset were the right ones, but he insisted that others left him baffled - including a late call that should have seen a penalty awarded against Wasps forward Brad Shields.  “The penalty count was 14-7, which was disappointing because I thought some of the calls were right and I couldn't understand a couple of the other calls,” the coach added. “I'm going to have to check the law book on a few to make sure I'm right before I say anything. 

“The crowd were outstanding and the stadium was absolutely buzzing again. The crowd were putting everything behind the team. But we did lose the game, and I want to be learning lessons while we're winning games.”

Edinburgh had slightly the better of the first half, and went in at the break 17-10 up thanks to tries from scrum-half Ben Vellacott and hooker Adam McBurney. Argentina international Emiliano Boffelli converted both and added a penalty, and when he made it 20-10 with another penalty not long into the second half, it looked like Edinburgh were well on their way to a place in the last four. 

But then Wasps, who dominated the scrum and had the better of the back-row battle, hit back with those 17 unanswered points to take control of the game. It looked like Edinburgh were going to have to accept second best at that point, but with barely a dozen minutes left they drew level when Magnus Bradbury finished off from a lineout and Boffelli converted.

With eight minutes to play a long-range penalty by Boffelli put his team 30-37 ahead. But then Boyle was shown the yellow card, and after Wasps sent the ball to touch, man-of-the-match Alfie Barbeary eventually crossed the line. Gopperth converted the No 8’s try.

Edinburgh threw everything they had into one last attack, but in the end Wasps broke the offence down to claim their place in the last four.

Scorers - Edinburgh: Tries: Vellacott, McBurney, Bradbury. Cons: Boffelli 3. Pens: Boffelli 3.

Wasps: Tries: Gopperth, Alo, West, Barbeary. Cons: Gopperth 4. Pens: Gopperth 2.

Yellow card: Edinburgh: Boyle 75.

Edinburgh: J van der Walt; D Hoyland (J Blain 75), M Bennett, C Dean, E Boffelli; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott (H Pyrgos 62); H Courtney (P Schoeman 37), A McBurney (P Harrison 78), W Nel (L Atalifo 59), J Hodgson (P Phillips 59), G Gilchrist (captain), L Crosbie, C Boyle, M Bradbury (M Kunavula 78). 

Wasps: Z Kibirige (J Umaga 51), F Hougaard (P Odogwu 79), S Spink, J Gopperth, J Bassett; C Atkinson, D Robson (W Porter 74);  T West, G Oghre (D Frost 74), B Alo (E Millar-Mills 65), J Launchbury (captain, J Gaskell 76-77), E Stooke, B Shields, J Willis, A Barbeary.  

Referee: P Brousset (France).

Attendance: 6,431.