Edinburgh moved up to sixth in the United Rugby Championship table with a 40-14 bonus point win over Zebre this evening. 

The home side scored six tries in all, with Ewan Ashman helping himself to a first half double, while WP Nel, Chris Dean and Javan Sebastian also crossed to seal a win that was comfortable in the end, but looked in doubt until the final quarter.

Scotland hooker Ashman opened the scoring after getting on the end of a second consecutive dominant maul from the home side.  

The visitors struck back with a stunning solo score from fullback Geronimo Prisciantelli, who cut through the Edinburgh defence with some not-too-subtle blocking from his colleagues that the officials let go after a TMO review.  

The home side had most of the ball but struggled to find a way through the stubborn visitors in general play. They again turned to the maul, Ashman driving over for his second score to put the hosts back in front. Ben Healy, having missed his first attempt, landed the next two to give the home side a 19-7 advantage at the interval.  

The visitors hit back when Jacopo Trulla scored just before the hour, but Chris Dean’s score inside the final quarter of an hour made the game safe and wrapped up a vital bonus point for the home side. 

They spurned chances to make the result safe inside the closing stages, but after despite an unconvincing performance, Edinburgh held on. Victory puts them up to sixth in the URC table with two rounds of the regular season to play.  

Here are five things we learned from Hive Stadium. 

Edinburgh again rely on pack power  

With an attacking game not quite clicking as they would have liked, Edinburgh turned to their maul to take control. Ewan Ashman picked up where he left off a fortnight ago against Cardiff, driving over from a pair of first half mauls. Not to be outdone, the veteran WP Nel – on his penultimate home game after 12 years with Edinburgh – picked and drove over just before half-time to give the capital club a buffer at the break.  

Having not been able to get on top at the scrum in the opening 40 minutes, the hosts grew into the game in that department after the break.  

Edinburgh’s attack continues to misfire 

Sean Everitt’s side find themselves in a scrap for the play-offs because they’ve picked up fewer bonus points than anyone else in the URC. Their attacking game has failed to fire too often this season, and again at times here they looked out of ideas after three or four phases and too often resorted to putting the ball aimlessly in the air. 

Superb shift from Sam Skinner 

The Scotland lock produced an excellent showing, with highlights including excellent work at the lineout, a terrific early turnover, and a brilliant take under a box-kick – one of too many on a glorious evening for running rugby – out of the Edinburgh sky.

Scotland Rugby News: Sam Skinner wins a lineoutSam Skinner wins a lineout (Image: SNS)

Skinner’s experience of winning the Champions Cup and Premiership during his time with Exeter Chiefs could make a big difference in the run-in. 

Ben Vellacott must start

The former Wasps scrum-half was appointed Edinburgh co-captain at the start of the season, but has found himself in a battle with Ali Price for the starting jersey since the latter moved from Glasgow.

As George Horne does with Scotland, Vellacott adds great impact from the bench, but he offers much more than just a running threat. He should be given the opportunity against Munster next week to show what he can do as a starter. 

Edinburgh won’t cause play-off sides sleepless nights 

If they do make the play-offs, Edinburgh will need to play considerably better to cause any of the top-end sides in the URC problems. Matt Currie said during the week a trip along the M8 to Scotstoun might not be the worst outcome, but on the evidence of this display, you’d bet Franco Smith would welcome another Scottish derby in the last eight.  

Edinburgh: Wes Goosen, Matt Currie, Mark Bennett (Dean 60), James Lang, Duhan van der Merwe, Ben Healy (Scott 76), Ali Price (Vellacott 60), Pierre Schoeman (Venter 55), Ewan Ashman (Cherry 55), WP Nel (Sebastian 55), Sam Skinner (Skyes 55), Grant Gilchrist (c), Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson (Crosbie 66), Viliame Mata 

Tries: Ashman (16, 31); Nel (37), Dean (65), Vellacott (76), Sebastian (80)

Conversions: Healy (32, 38, 66), Scott (77, 80)

Zebre: Geronimo Prisciantelli, Jacopo Trulla, Fetuli Paea (Pani 67), Enrico Lucchin, Simone Gesi, Giovanni Montemauri (Mazza 67), Thomas Dominguez (Garcia 55); Muhamed Hasa (Taddei 58), Giampietro Ribaldi (Di Bartolomeo 70), Juan Pitinari (Genovese 55), Matteo Canali (Sisi 49), Andrea Zambonin, Giacomo Ferrari, Taina Fox-Matamua (Staville 49), Giovanni Licata (c) 

Tries: Prisciantelli (23), Trulla (56) 

Conversions: Dominguez (23), Montemauri (57) 

Referee: Ben Breakspear (Wales) 

Attendance:  6,792

Player of the Match: Ewan Ashman