WHEN you are without 15 members of your first-team squad but still score six tries in a 38-19 away win, you have every right to be pretty satisfied with your weekend.

And on the whole, Edinburgh returned from Parma with that job-well-done feeling after picking up five points against Zebre on Saturday.

Nonetheless, as they prepare for some tougher challenges ahead – starting with a visit to Cardiff on Sunday – they know that some aspects of their play will need to be tightened up. You can get away with some scrappy spells against the United Rugby Championship’s bottom club, but against better sides you could be punished more severely, as Chris Dean acknowledged.

“I thought we were outstanding for the first 30 minutes,” said the centre, who took over as captain after Luke Crosbie’s departure quarter-of- an-hour into the second half. “But there are certainly things to look at in terms of how we keep the pressure on teams for the full 80 minutes. In other away games we can’t do that once we are ahead like that.

“I felt that Zebre became a hell of a lot more passionate and they got a huge amount of momentum from individuals. I think we did become slightly complacent and I thought our penalty count was way too high – and that’s what gave Zebre the opportunity to come into the game.

“It suddenly felt like there was a wave of pressure on us. It was a period of tough defence.”

At least that period in the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi came after much of the hard work had been done and a five-point victory had been guaranteed. There have, after all, been times when Edinburgh – as well as Glasgow Warriors and Scotland – have struggled for far longer in games in Italy, sometimes ending up with no points at all rather than the five with which they headed home this time.

That maximum points haul has taken Edinburgh back into the play-off places in the URC, just a point ahead of Cardiff. The Welsh team will go into Sunday’s match with their morale significantly boosted thanks to a 30-24 home win over the Stormers, last season’s champions, at the weekend.

Edinburgh coach Mike Blair was satisfied on the whole with the way his squad had gone about their business against Zebre, as two tries from Adam McBurney and other touchdowns from Jamie Hodgson and Wes Goosen wrapped up the bonus point with quarter-of-an-hour still to play. Henry Immelman scored try No.5 early in the second half to stretch the visitors’ lead to 31-0, and Matt Currie added a sixth after Zebre had scored two of their three replies. The Scots side’s other points came from three conversions by Emiliano Boffelli and another by Charlie Savala.

But, like Dean, Blair also added a caveat to his praise for his team’s overall showing.

“I’m really pleased with how the guys put it together,” he said. “But we are also aware that there will need to be a step up in performance for Cardiff away.”

In addition to the tries and the bright start, other aspects of the afternoon worth celebrating included a 100th appearance for Bill Mata and a debut for replacement prop Nick Auterac as well as for Goosen.

The winger has had a frustrating time with injury since signing in the summer, but is now looking forward to competing for a regular place in a back three that is arguably the most well-equipped department of the whole squad.

“With the other wingers playing so well, it kind of put pressure on myself to deliver,” Goosen said. “It’s good, because competition brings the best out of everyone. It inspired me to play well and carry on from where I left off back in New Zealand.

“I want to keep playing consistently at a higher level and just add as much as I can on and off the field. I’ve been learning heaps since I came here so I just want to keep going as a person and as a player.

“I really enjoyed the game – it was a good brand of rugby and I had a lot of fun.”