RONAN O'GARA'S petulant kick at Edinburgh lock Sean Cox may have handed Leinster the initiative in quarter-final qualification after Munster limped to victory yesterday at Murrayfield.
The veteran out-half looks almost certain to be cited for the incident by citing commissioner Alberto Recaldini which could rule him out of next weekend's crucial showdown with Racing Metro in Limerick, pending the result of a hearing later this week.
Montpellier appear to have the top runners-up spot secured with Leinster and Munster vying for the eighth and final spot in the quarters. The Reds do have a slight advantage having scored a try more than their provincial counterparts.
For Rob Penney's men to have any hope of progression they will need a huge improvement on their last two displays, an embarrassing defeat to Cardiff in the Pro12 and yesterday's toothless 26-17 win.
A penalty try and a touchdown by Conor Murray plus 14 points from the boot of Ronan O'Gara sealed the victory for the visitors, while the home side's points came through two tries from Dougie Fife, both converted by Greig Laidlaw, who also landed a penalty.
Penney's men rarely looked like securing the bonus point which would have given them the edge in the race for the knockout stages.
The Kiwi put a brave face on a poor display afterwards and insisted his side did well to beat Edinburgh, a side that have failed to secure a losing bonus point this season in Europe's premier club competition.
"All in all, I've a pretty positive view of the whole situation," he said. "Given we had to come here and play at 12.30, it was always going to be a bit of a challenge.
"Edinburgh up here was always going to be a tough ask, even to just get the win," he said. "This time last year Edinburgh were flying high in this competition and doing a great job.
"They are a quality side and they've got a lot of pride.
"We got ourselves into a good, strong position and were able to be a bit more expansive on the back of that. It was just a wee bit disappointing we weren't able to capitalise on some opportunities which we created."
On a number of occasions in the opening period Munster opted for three points rather than kicking for the corner and trying to secure a bonus point early on, but Penny defended the tactics.
"It was critical to get the win first," he said. "You could see when Edinburgh were able to unleash themselves in the latter part of the second half how dangerous they are, and if we hadn't got that buffer it was always going to be a problem.
"So we got the four points, we're in the fight next week and we'll see what happens on the back of that."
"We didn't score more tries because we weren't good enough fundamentally.
"Edinburgh just defended brilliantly, they just defended like their lives depended on it and they were a desperate side, they were looking to do everything they could to stop us. We are still in the hunt, though, that's 100pc the positive we are taking from the game."
Munster are backed into a corner and like so many times in the past will have to rely a lot on the spirit that Thomond Park evokes and Penney has no doubt that next Sunday will be a special occasion in Limerick.
"Any team coming to Thomond is going to be in for a good challenging battle and I don't think it'll be any different next week," Penney said.
"In fact, it should be a really exciting Sunday afternoon there with so much at stake on that one fixture."