EDINBURGH’S United Rugby Championship playoff prospects suffered a serious blow when they were narrowly beaten at home by Munster.

It was an enthralling contest that ebbed and flowed from end to end. Antoine Frisch scored twice for Munster in the first half either side of a Mark Bennett try for the hosts while Ben Healy added three penalties and a conversion before the turnaround.

The second half was just as tight, with the visitors claiming a four-try bonus point with further scores from Jack Crowley and Gavin Coombes, before a Boan Venter try made the contest all square once more.

There was still time for Crowley to have the final say, his penalty sealing a 29-26 win to leave Edinburgh with only one losing bonus point for their efforts.

Here are five things we learned:

Edinburgh bring extra intensity but don’t land the 80-minute performance

Head coach Sean Everitt had expressed his frustration beforehand that his team had been guilty of slipping into lulls in matches where their intensity drops allowing the visitors to capitalise. Everitt wanted an 80-minute performance from his players and the energy they showed in the first half suggested that message had been received loud and clear.

Pierre Schoeman, in particular, looked in the mood, while there was plenty to admire in the Edinburgh defence late in the first half when Munster were camped on their goal line attempting numerous pick-and-goes before finally breaking through.

That dominance, though, ebbed away after the break as the visitors began to turn the screw and get on top, with Edinburgh errors also adding to the sense of frustration growing around the stadium.

Edinburgh must be sick of the sight of Munster

Munster are the reigning URC champions and there was plenty to admire in their display here to suggest they will be one of the leading contenders again when the playoffs get underway.

Undefeated in the URC since New Year’s Day, they dug deep to come back to again inflict another defeat on an Edinburgh side whose last win against the Irish province came in 2019. Sean Everitt will be hoping they can avoid them in the playoffs should they make it.

Sam Skinner-gate revisited – with a twist

Edinburgh fans must have been visited by a stomach-churning sense of déjà vu when Boan Venter stretched for the line through a clutch of bodies late in the contest. It had undoubted echoes of the score that wasn’t by Sam Skinner for Scotland versus France barely a few hundred metres away at neighbouring Murrayfield when the TMO pored over the grounding for what felt like an eternity only to decide that there was no definitive image chalked off the try.

It felt like we were in for a repeat scenario as the Italian officials looked at replay after replay to see if Venter had got the ball down and over the line. Instead, the TV director found one last angle and the score was, finally, awarded.

Farewell to WP Nel and Bill Mata

This was, almost certainly, Edinburgh’s last home game of the season and a sell-out Hive Stadium said their farewells to two of the club’s great stalwarts. WP Nel will retire at the end of the campaign after 12 years of solid front-row service – and nine for Scotland – while Bill Mata is heading for the next chapter of his career with Bristol Bears after eight years in the Scottish capital.

Mata, in particular, demonstrated again what Edinburgh will miss with another eye-catching performance, both in the set-play and in open play, as exemplified by one spirited dash through the Edinburgh 22 from close to his own line. Jack O’Donoghue felt the Fijian’s power, too, with one bone-crunching tackle sending “oohs” rippling through the stands.

One Mata intervention, however, wasn’t as positive. Enraged after RG Snyman went late into Healy as the fly-half kicked for touch, the Number 8 dived into to protect his teammate, sparking an all-out rammy. The Italian officials, however, ruled that Snyman’s tackle was legitimate, instead penalising Mata, with Munster landing their fourth try from that infringement.

There was undoubted an air of poignancy about Nel’s departure on the hour mark, the South African-born prop waving to the crowd as he trotted off for the final time.

A Saturday on the sofa lies ahead for Sean Everitt

With sunny weather forecast for much of the weekend, Edinburgh fans might feel like drowning their sorrows after this painful loss by heading to a beer garden or for a picnic. Not Sean Everitt. The Gunners head coach admits he’s something of a rugby anorak and, with so much still at stake in the closing rounds of the competition, he’ll spend much of Saturday on his settee to see how Edinburgh’s rivals for a top 8 place get on in their respective contests.

It all kicks off with Bulls vs Benetton at 1pm, followed by Ospreys vs Dragons, Lions vs Glasgow, Connacht vs Stormers, Sharks vs Cardiff and finally Ulster vs Leinster. Most will have some sort of ramification for the playoff shakedown heading into the final weekend and Everitt doesn’t want to miss a minute of it. Ultimately, though, this is a result that means Edinburgh will almost certainly need to beat Benetton in their one remaining regular season game in a fortnight if they want to be sure of making the postseason.

EDINBURGH: W Goosen (C Scott 61), M Currie, M Bennett (C Dean 64), J Lang, D van der Merwe, B Healy, B Vellacott (A Price 63); P Schoeman (B Venter 60), E Ashman (D Cherry 60), WP Nel (J Sebastian 60), S Skinner (M Sykes 60), G Gilchrist (M Sykes 48-58), J Ritchie, H Watson (L Crosbie 62), V Mata

Tries: Bennett, Venter; Conversions: Healy 2; Penalties: Healy 4

MUNSTER: M Haley (R Scannell 22), C Nash, A Frisch, A Nankivell (C Murray 58), S Daly, J Crowley, C Casey; J Loughman, N Scannell (E Clarke 65), O Jager (J Ryan 50); F Wycherley (RG Snyman 45), T Beirne, J O’Donoghue, A Kendellen (T Ahern 50), G Coombes (B Gleeson 70)

Replacements: M Donnelly, J Ryan

Tries: Frisch 2, Crowley, Coombes; Conversions: Crowley 3; Penalty: Crowley

Yellow card: C Murray

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR)

Player of the Match: Jack Crowley

Attendance: 7,774