Return of big guns puts pep in Leinster step
Edinburgh 16 Leinster 31:Leinster emerged comprehensive winners in last night’s match against an Edinburgh side that struggled to contain the power and pace of the visitors who also secured a four-try bonus point.
The return of Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald was a big factor in what was a confidence-inducing win but it was the strength of the Leinster pack and that of the frontrow in particular that paved the way for this success.
Edinburgh led after Leinster were penalised at a scrum and Greig Laidlaw converted the subsequent penalty. The scores were quickly levelled in similar style when Jonathan Sexton slotted the ball between the uprights following a high tackle on O’Driscoll as the returning centre threatened to split the Edinburgh defence.
Sexton missed a second penalty chance after after Leinster had achieved a heel against the head but the visitors were looking sharp with ball in hand in a varied repertoire of attacking moves that had a nervous Edinburgh side having to put in a massive number of tackles and when Sexton flipped an inside pass to Fitzgerald the home side were again on red alert.
The move ended with Edinburgh straying offside allowing Sexton to kick to the corner and the forwards to drive the line-out. Edinburgh number eight David Denton was judged to have stopped the drive illegally resulting in a yellow card for the Scotland backrower and penalty try for Leinster converted by Sexton.
Leinster quickly used their one-man advantage to launch an attack from the restart and when Seán Cronin prised open the Edinburgh defence the ball was spun wide for Gordon D’Arcy to stroll over for his side’s converted second try.
Then right on half-time Leinster were penalised at the contact area giving Laidlaw his second goal of the evening but the visitors led 17-6 at the interval.
Leinster attacked again at the start of the second half as Sexton found touch just a metre from the Edinburgh line. But the home side took a quick throw and relieved pressure.
Minutes later after a penalty kick to the corner by Sexton, Leinster attacked from the ensuing lineout, Devin Toner made the initial surge and then when the ball was moved right Cian Healy appeared to stretch his arm out to dot the ball down for a try but the referee had spotted an earlier crossing offence and Edinburgh were again handed a reprieve.
Edinburgh’s misfortunes continued with an injury to the league’s top scorer, Tim Visser, following his tackle on Carr. But a drop goal by outhalf Piers Francis helped to revive the home side’s hopes.
That was soon dented when from some vintage handling by replacement Shane Jennings dummied his way through the Edinburgh defence before off-loading to Sexton for an impressive try, which the outhalf converted for a 24-9 lead.