Andy Robinson has masterminded Heineken Cup upsets against French opposition before. In 1998, Bath beat Brive in the final. At Edinburgh he has inherited a squad shorn of Chris Paterson, Simon Taylor, Scott Murray, Rob Dewey and others, yet he still managed to come within a couple of missed kicks of taking the prized scalp of Toulouse.
Robinson's artisans outscored the aristocrats of European club rugby by two-to-one on the try front but fell four points short on the scoreboard. It might have been different had Edinburgh still been blessed with the place-kicking talents of Paterson, now at Gloucester. As it was, the outside-half David Blair missed with three of four efforts.
For Toulouse, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde kicked five of five, so at least it took the man whose conversion knocked the All Blacks out of the World Cup to stop Robinson from taking a famous victory in his first major test. "Elissalde kicked well and that just gave them a bit of momentum," the former England coach said. "The way we played today was really pleasing but it's all well and good saying that. We have to win games. That's the next step we have to make."
Still, it was a more than encouraging step for Edinburgh that Robinson's opposite number, Guy Noves, was relieved to escape with a victory. The Toulouse coach rested Byron Kelleher and Cédric Heymans and still fielded a starting line-up overflowing with talent. All they could manage in the opening half, though, was three penalties from Elissalde.
The Magners League side would have been level at the interval had Blair – partnering his elder brother, Mike, at half-back – not missed two of three first-half penalties. Still, they showed their mettle in the second-half after Yannick Jauzion fed Vincent Clerc and the France wing raced 40 yards before slipping the ball to Maxime Médard, who resisted Andrew Maxwell to score under the posts. Elissalde converted for 16-3, but the man known as "le petit rat" was sent to the sin-bin nine minutes later for killing the ball as Edinburgh pressed in the right corner.
Within a minute of his departure the Toulouse line was breached, the centre Nick De Luca bursting through to the left of the posts. The younger Blair missed the conversion but Edinburgh remained resolutely on a roll and with 12 minutes to go they had a second try. Phil Godman – having replaced David Blair – whipped an inviting pass out to John Houston and the substitute wing raced over on the left.
Godman converted from close to the touchline, cutting the Toulouse lead to 16-15. There was to be no upset, though, for Edinburgh and their new coach. A fourth Elissalde penalty took the visitors four points clear and, ultimately, into the winner's enclosure.
Edinburgh: H Southwell; A Turnbull, B Cairns, N De Luca, A Maxwell (J Houston, 51); D Blair (P Godman, 65), M Blair (B Meyer, 79); A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Kerr (A Allori, 65), C Hamilton, B Gissing, A Hogg (capt), R Rennie, S Cross (D Callam, 48).
Toulouse: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, Y Jauzion (capt), M Mermoz, M Médard (M Kunavore, 58); G du Toit (V Courrent, 78), J-B Elissalde; S Perugini (A Vernet-Basualdo, 70), W Servat, Y Montes (J-B Poux, 40), G Lamboley (R Millo-Chluski, 50), P Albacete, Y Nyanga (J Bouilhou, 50), T Dusautoir, F Maka.
Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).Reuse content