LUKE Crosbie is confident that Edinburgh can bounce back from the bitter disappointment of Saturday night’s defeat by Cardiff and still qualify for the PRO14 play-offs. The capital side are down to fourth place in Conference B after losing 19-17 to the Blues, but the back-row forward believes they can again thrive in adversity – as they did last season when unexpectedly battling through into the end-of-season series.

“It’s getting tighter, but that’s what we thrive off,” Crosbie said. “We want to get the best out of each other, and when there are bigger games coming up, must-win games, it’s more exciting during the week. We just want to work hard, and we’ll learn a lot from that game both individually and as a team. We’re confident on the field, and we come out and play our hearts out. It’s a learning process, but we are developing as a team.”

Edinburgh appeared to have the game won when the first score of the second half, a penalty from Jaco van der Walt, stretched their lead to 17-0. First-half tries from Nathan Fowles and Bill Mata, both converted by the stand-off, had given them a substantial advantage at the break.

But Cardiff’s first try from scrum-half Lloyd Williams was a significant momentum switch. And once the Welshmen got in front thanks to two more tries from former Edinburgh wing Jason Harries – one of which was converted by Jarrod Evans, who had also added the two points to Williams’ try – they never looked like going behind again.

“It was a tough one to take,” Crosbie continued. “First half I thought we were playing to our game plan and executing the stuff that we’d trained on in the week, then come the second half our set-piece fell off.

“It was quite a weird one to take, and gutting for us. I felt we left it all out on the field: we played the hardest we could. We’ll just regroup and come back stronger and learn from it. If we ever get in those situations again we’ll know how to cope.”

One positive aspect of the evening was the return from injury of both Damien Hoyland, who started on the wing, and his fellow-back Mark Bennett, who came off the bench. Edinburgh will welcome others back from injury in the coming weeks, and should also have some of their Scotland contingent available for Saturday’s visit to conference rivals Benetton, who climbed to second with a 57-7 win over the Dragons and are having easily their best season in the league.

Ominously for Edinburgh, however, that match in Treviso, tough as it looks, might just turn out to be the least difficult of their five remaining fixtures. They are at home to Leinster later in March, then in April visit Scarlets and are back at Murrayfield against Ulster before ending the regular season with the third 1872 Cup game of the campaign, at Scotstoun.

Victories in both of the first two games against Glasgow over the festive period means that Edinburgh have already secured the cup this season, and they may be the only ones with something to play for when the teams meet again, as the Warriors’ win over Connacht on Friday night made their place in the play-offs all but certain. That 43-17 result against the Irish province took Dave Rennie’s side up to within a point of Conference A leaders Munster, and 14 clear of Connacht.

Cardiff’s win at Murrayfield has taken them above Connacht, but only on points differential. Those two along with Ospreys and the Cheetahs appear to be locked in a four-way battle for the remaining play-off place in that conference.