The real measure of a team is how they cope with adversity, so this was a far more significant win for Edinburgh than just four points on the road against tricky opposition.

They had to negotiate the disruption of head coach Richard Cockerill and full-back Blair Kinghorn being blocked from travelling due to the late return of their negative Covid tests, and then played the final 20 minutes with 14 men (briefly 13 men) due to a yellow card for WP Nel followed by a red card for George Taylor.

Despite all this, they kept their focus for a comfortable win, which will be a huge confidence boost going into a three-week break before their next match away to Dragons on February 12. It also keeps them in the hunt for Champions Cup qualification.

“First and foremost, I’m really proud of the effort and resilience the boys showed,” said defence coach Calum MacRae, deputising for Cockerill. “Obviously, in the second half, there were some pinch points when both teams were tussling for ascendency, and at the bits where we really needed to dig in, we did.

“The big messaging through the week and at half time was around game management. With our kicking game we took all the air out of the contest in the back 20 minutes when we needed to.

“You have to respect Zebre, they’ve come into the game in some form, and this is becoming a more and more difficult place to get a result, so we’re absolutely ecstatic to come away with the four points against a really competitive team.”

Edinburgh dominated the opening quarter but only managed three points during that period through a 45-yard penalty from Jaco van der Walt following a Zebre offside, and that slim advantage on the scoreboard was cancelled out when Carlo Canna stepped forward to slot the kick after Luke Crosbie was penalised for chasing Henry Pyrgos’ clearance from an off-side position.

Edinburgh bounced back to take the lead just before half time when Pierre Schoeman snaffled possession from Zebre at a line-out, Mark Bennett kicked long, Jamie Farndale gathered on the first bounce, and Bennett re-appeared to finish the move off. Van der Walt added the conversion.

Zebre squared it again early in the second half when Canna’s delicate chip over the top left Viliame Mata isolated on his own line to create the field position for second-row Mick Kearney to pile over the line, before two more penalties from van der Walt edged the visitors back in front.

When Nel saw yellow for an off-side, just a few minutes after he had been ticked off for hands in a ruck, Edinburgh had to dig deep, and there was some ferocious tackling from Bennett – who injured himself out of the game when body-slamming Antonio Rizzi – and Eroni Sau. Then Taylor – on for the injured Bennett – strayed beyond the line from brutal into dangerous territory.

Poor Rizzi was on the receiving end again, taking a shoulder to the neck which left referee Gianluca Gnecchiwith little option but to hand out the ultimate sanction. There was no malice in it, but it was dangerous. Ironically, Taylor was making his first appearance since a horror tackle from Scarlets second-row Josh Helps at the start of November left him nursing a broken jaw, cheekbone and nose – which had left Cockerill seething with anger.

It looked like a backs-to-the-wall final 10 minutes was on the cards for Edinburgh, but it did not pan out that way, with a combination of uncompromising defence and smart kicking options from the visitors taking the sting out of the game.

Van der Walt slotted a tricky kick from the right after Nick Haining won a penalty in the tackle area, and the game finished with a flourish when Farndale picked off Josh Renton’s loose pass for an unchallenged canter to the line.

The good news from a Scotland perspective is that all six of the national squad members involved in the game appeared to come through the match unscathed.

Zebre: M Biondelli; G D’Onofrio, F Mori, T Boni (J Elliott 30-40), M Bellini; C Canna (A Rizzi 56), G Palazzani (J Renton 50); D Fischetti (D Rimpelli 68), L Bigi (M Manfredi 59), G Zilocchi (E Bello 64), D Sisi, M Kearney (L Krumov 55), M Mbandà, J Meyer, R Giammarioli (P Leavasa 33).

Edinburgh: J Blain; J Farndale (S Berghan 60), M Bennett (G Taylor 64), C Dean, E Sau; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (C Shiel 64); P Schoeman, D Cherry (M Willemse 66), W Nel, J Hodgson (M Bradbury 60), G Gilchrist, L Crosbie (N Haining 67), H Watson, V Mata.

Yellow card: Nel (59) Red card: Taylor (69) Scorers: Zebre: Try: Kearney (44). Con: Canna. Pen: Canna.

Edinburgh: Try: Bennett (34), Frandale (80). Con: Van der Walt 2. Pens: Van der Walt 4.