Ben Vellacott remains confident Edinburgh can still reach the URC play-offs but only if they perform to their best against Benetton.

Friday night’s close and often contentious narrow loss to Munster at Hive Stadium has given Sean Everitt’s side very little margin for error in the race for the top eight.

After a fallow week due to the two European finals, the final placings in the United Rugby Championship will be decided the following weekend, with Edinburgh heading to Treviso on June 1.

Italian rugby’s reputation has grown significantly in recent seasons and Vellacott acknowledged the difficult of the challenge facing the Edinburgh players.

The co-captain said: “Obviously Benetton are no easy beats anymore. They are a top quality side and again they’ll be pushing for that top eight.

“They are lethal at home so we will have to put on a top performance. You’ve got to not let the crowd get involved.

“The Italians are very loud and once they get a bit of confidence, they really back their teams. We need to keep the crowd pretty quiet by going over there and doing a good job.

“It’s going to go down to the wire. I have never seen a league like it and it makes it really interesting, doesn’t it, going into the last round of games. Hopefully we get on the right side of the result.

“If we play like we did against Munster, which was like a proper Test Match, we’ll go over there and give it our best shot.”

Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi did not endear himself to the Edinburgh crowd on Friday night with a number of questionable calls.

The most significant was not punishing RG Snyman for a late hit on Ben Healy, a tackle that saw Bill Mata arrive first on the scene to help his stricken teammate.

That sparked something of a rammy on the field with players on both sides joining in before the match officials chose to punish Mata for retaliation rather than Snyman for sparking it.

Munster went on to score their fourth try from that penalty award close to the Edinburgh line and Vellacott felt the home side “weren’t painting the right pictures” for the referee in the second half.

He added: “It’s an interesting call [the Mata penalty]. I didn’t get a proper look at it at the time but we’ll go over it. Unfortunately the result went the wrong way and they score from it. 

“There was no real explanation from the referee. We weren’t painting the right pictures for him.

“We had the rub of the green in the first half but we weren’t as squeaky clean in the second half and we just got on the wrong side of him. And fair play to Munster - they are a top quality team and are in that top part of the table for a reason.”

Trailing by three points going into the closing stages, Edinburgh bucked a trend by kicking for the corner rather than the posts only to then mess up the line-out. But Vellacott felt it was a sign of intent to push for the win rather than play safe for the draw.

He added: “I’m not sure about the discussion around the penalty, but at the end of the day we were backing ourselves to get ourselves in front. Our maul was going pretty well but unfortunately we weren’t quite accurate there. Top quality teams in the top half of the table are going to punish you for that.”