Edinburgh had to fight tooth and nail to claw a victory over Zebre with a second-half comeback in Parma on Friday night.

An imperfect performance from Sean Everitt’s men left them staring down the barrel at a shock reverse, after Gonzalo Garcia’s early score and the boot of Giovanni Montemauri built a 10-point lead for the Italians.

But Boan Venter and Dave Cherry crossed for Edinburgh either side of a penalty try as they turned the tide in the second half and held on for an important and hard-earned win despite yellow cards for Harry Paterson and Javan Sebastian. 

Here are five things we learned from a tense night in Parma. 

1.Edinburgh show rust – and spirit - after lengthy break 

Edinburgh’s last URC match was against Glasgow on 30 December, and there were some notable absences such as Darcy Graham, Luke Crosbie, Duhan van der Merwe and Grant Gilchrist through a mixture of injury and Scotland duties. 

But the team they fielded in Parma was still a strong one, featuring seven members of the current Scotland Six Nations squad, and their performance, particularly in the first half, wasn’t reflective of the talent on the field. 

Sean Everitt’s men conceded five penalties and yielded just three points from 76% territory in the first half as their attacks broke down with regularity.

But the pack stepped up to the task in the second, taking charge of the scrum, causing carnage with driving lineouts and hammering at the Zebre defence with powerful carries. 

It was a strong response and although there was no bonus point to boast of, any win will come gladly after a testing night. 

2.Ritchie gets back to business after tough period  

It has been a tough year so far for the flanker, who started the year being stripped of the Scotland captaincy before losing his place in the national squad altogether for last weekend’s defeat to France. 

Back in action in Italy and with a few points to prove, the Edinburgh skipper ended with a game-high four turnovers that were crucial in relieving the pressure for his side and putting them in the right positions. 

All Ritchie can do is get down to business on the pitch to prove to Gregor Townsend once again that he deserves a starting shirt at international level, and the leadership he showed in guiding his side through this awkward, scrappy battle won’t have gone unnoticed. 

3.Edinburgh turn on the power

Looking at Edinburgh’s team sheet, the likes of Ali Price, Ben Healy, Harry Paterson or Emiliano Boffelli jump out as players who can spot a gap and provide a spark when needed.

But on a night where Edinburgh’s attack was failing to punch holes in the Zebre defence – they made just one clean break in the match – the Scots went back to pure power to wrestle the momentum back in their favour. 

Driving lineouts, dominant scrums and bone-crunching carries were the order of the night in the second half and Zebre ultimately couldn’t handle it. 

4.Quiet night for Paterson

Arguably the cause of greatest intrigue on the team sheet on Friday night, Paterson travelled to Italy feeling three feet taller after receiving widespread praise for his composed Test debut at Murrayfield against Les Bleus. 

But as we know, the real question is…can he do it on a cold night in Parma? Paterson was certainly starved of the ball for long periods, stuck out on the wing and therefore not as involved as he was at Murrayfield six days earlier.  

Unfortunately it wasn’t really the night for Paterson to showcase his talent, and the 22-year-old’s yellow card for a mistimed tackle will be a reminder to everyone that he still has work to do. 

5.Watson hits 150 

There was no greater evidence of Scotland’s bulging stocks of back rowers than the fact that there was no space for Hamish Watson in Gregor Townsend’s squad. 

But the openside flanker remains a key man for his club and ran out in an Edinburgh shirt for the 150th time at the Stadio Lanfranchi – the first back row player to hit the landmark.

What we saw was a classic Watson performance, as he was busy with carries, beating more defenders than any other player with four. 150 games in, he continues to deliver.