After losing their four previous league matches, Edinburgh duly returned to winning ways, and earned a bonus point to boot, against bottom-of-the-table Zebre.

But, if the victory was expected, the manner in which it was achieved was anything but predictable, as the Italians came close to ending their own, far longer losing run before eventually conceding the losing score in the last minute.

With two rounds of Champions Cup games coming up, Edinburgh coach Mike Blair had selected a much-changed team for this game, opting to rest four senior internationals. And, with a dozen players on the injury list, this was a fairly inexperienced side.

In those circumstances, and the fact that the team had lost those four prior outings, a lack of self-belief might have been understandable. Instead, Blair’s team displayed the opposite trait, showing considerable character to fight back from 17-10 late in the game to claim the win with two late tries.

“I’m proud,” the head coach said. “I genuinely believe that’s our best win of the season so far. The position we put ourselves in, with a really stiff breeze when all the momentum was with Zebre – to come back into the game as we did after the results we’ve had in the past few weeks, is massive for the club.

“I actually felt confident that we would get back into the game. I genuinely have so much belief in this group of players. We just have to keep learning.

“We repeated some of the mistakes of the past few weeks, but I asked the players to show character and I believe they showed it in the way they came back to get the bonus-point win. It’s something we can really build on.”

The capital club looked like they were on their way to a straightforward win in the first half, which ended with them 10-0 ahead.

They opened the scoring when scrum-half Charlie Shiel finished off in the right-hand corner after a maul had come close, then doubled their lead two minutes later when winger Jack Blain dotted down after good work by No.8 Nick Haining. Blair Kinghorn missed both conversion attempts in increasingly difficult windy conditions.

Zebre winger Simone Gesi was shown the yellow card late in the first half after a deliberate knock-on, but the 14 men held their own before the break and came close to opening their account.

Then, just after returning to the field early in the second, Gesi got his team back in the game with an unconverted try after being left in acres of space.

With half-an-hour to play, Gesi got his second try after a break by scrum-half Alessandro Fusco. It was again unconverted by Tiff Eden, but the stand-off made amends with less than 15 minutes to go by scoring between the posts after the home defence had left too big a gap close to the breakdown. Eden converted to put his side 17-10 up, and Edinburgh had a massive fight on their hands.

They needed to hit back quickly to stem Zebre’s momentum, and they duly did so – within a minute, in fact. A penalty to touch was driven, and Connor Boyle finished off a simple score, with Kinghorn’s conversion making it 17-17.

Then, in the last move of the match, substitute hooker Patrick Harrison finished off after a scrum in front of the Zebre posts. Kinghorn’s drop-kicked conversion was the last kick of the match after he had calmly let the clock run down, and that left the visitors with only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts as their run of league losses stretched to 12.

“When we needed it we stepped up and went harder, but we need that drive for the whole 80 minutes,” Blair added. “If we had that drive for the whole 80 minutes then we would have put that team away earlier.”

Scorers, Edinburgh – Tries: Shiel, Blain, Boyle, Harrison. Cons: Kinghorn 2.

Zebre – Tries: Gesi 2, Eden. Con: Eden.

Edinburgh: H Paterson; J Blain, M Bennett, C Hutchison (J Lang 64), B Kinghorn; C Savala, C Shiel (B Vellacott 56); B Venter (N Auterac 68), D Cherry (P Harrison 62), A Williams (L de Bruin 50), S Skinner, J Hodgson (M Sykes 64), L Crosbie (captain), C Boyle, N Haining (V Mata 50).

Zebre: J Trulla; P Bruno (G Prisciantelli 78), T Boni, E Lucchin (captain, F Smith 68)), S Gesi; T Eden, A Fusco (R Jelic 78); P Buonfiglio (A Sanavia 65), L Bigi (J du Toit 65), M Nocera (M Hasa 65), D Visser (L Krumov 61), J Furno, G Ferrari (D Ruggeri 61), M Pelser, M Kvesic.

Referee: A Barrett-Theron (South Africa). Att: 5,203.