At last Bath have got their Heineken Cup disappointment in early. Last season it came in the last minute of an April quarter-final, Julien Dupuy's dramatic late score introducing them to the exit door at the Walker's Stadium. This time their challenge has effectively come to grief while there are doors left to open on the advent calendar.
Steve Meehan's men still have Pool Four fixtures to fulfil, away to Stade Français and at home to Ulster – and, in mathematical terms, they have yet to be formally removed from the qualification equation. Barring a Pythagorean combination of results, however, their Heineken hopes disappeared in the aftermath of the blizzard that temporarily turned Murrayfield into Flurryfield on Saturday.
Such was the severity of the snowstorm in the second quarter, Chris Paterson was unable to make out the posts as he lined up a penalty from 35 yards. "I couldn't tell if my kick was going over," the Edinburgh full-back and captain said.
Unfortunately for Bath, once Paterson cues a pot at goal he can hit the target blind. Despite "the worst conditions" the 31-year-old 98-cap veteran had ever experienced, he located the bullseye, tying the scores at 6-6. That made it two out of two for world rugby's premier place-kicker. By the finish it was three out of three, a Paterson penalty midway through the second half settling the contest in favour of Edinburgh, whose qualification hopes remain alive and kicking.
All Bath could manage were two first-half penalties from their Fijian fly-half Nicky Little. Perhaps it would have been different had they enjoyed a more secure footing when their forwards managed to get on top, but that fleeting period happened to coincide with the blizzard.
"The fact of the matter was that Edinburgh were more precise in their play in the second half," Meehan, Bath's head coach, lamented before turning his attention towards a slog for some salvation on the domestic front. "It gives us the opportunity to concentrate on the Premiership and find our opportunities to move up the table. The Heineken Cup is a great competition and we'll have to make sure that our Premiership form is good enough to get us into a position to bounce back and be part of it next season."
Edinburgh: Penalties Paterson 3. Bath: Penalties Little 2.
Edinburgh: C Paterson (capt); J Houston, B Cairns (M Robertson 31), N De Luca (J Thompson 60), T Visser; P Godman, G Laidlaw; K Traynor (A Jacobsen 50), R Ford, G Cross, S Turnbull, C Hamilton (F McKenzie 61), A MacDonald, R Rennie (D Callam 61), S Newlands.
Bath: N Abendanon (J Cuthbert 66); M Stephenson, M Carraro, S Hape, T Cheeseman; N Little (R Davis 66), M Claasens (capt,S Bemand 77); D Flatman (N Catt 77), P Dixon (L Mears 54), D Wilson (D Bell 63), S Hooper (D Grewcock 54), P Short, A Beattie (B Skirving 63), J Salvi, L Watson. Referee: R Poite (France).Reuse content