Leinster left to rue missed chances in defeat to Edinburgh
Visitors struggled against the home side’s impressive backline in a nine-try thriller
Edinburgh’s Chris Dean attempts to tackle Noel Reid of Leinster during the Pro14 tie. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Edinburgh 29 Leinster 24
Leinster came to Edinburgh as favourites but at the end of a nine-try entertaining match it was the home side who were celebrating a notable win that now puts pressure on Ulster in Conference B of the Pro14.
The visitors should have made more of their forward dominance but their inability to profit from a string of penalties awarded at the set scrum cost Leinster dear.
Ultimately it was the class of the Edinburgh backs and the strength of the home bench that made the difference, Scotland centre Mark Bennett in particular catching the eye in what is part of his return to rugby after a long lay-off.
For Leinster Ross Byrne impressed at outside half and there were some clever touches from his half back partner Jamieson Gibson-Park.
Leinster’s domination of possession in the opening minutes brought quick points for the visitors, a penalty-created line-out in the corner triggering a sequence of forward drives that ended with number eight Max Deegan forcing his way over for a try, easily converted by outside half Ross Byrne.
Edinburgh replied strongly only for outhalf Jaco van der Welt to miss a kick at goal. The reprieve allowed Leinster to attack but the Edinburgh defence stood firm.
Then, when Ross Byrne tried to chip the defence, the ball was charged down and scooped up by Edinburgh’s flanker Luke Crosbie who had the pace to run in from 50 metres. Van der Merwe’s conversion levelled the scores.
Another mistake by Leinster provided Edinburgh with a second try, this time when Dave Kearney was stopped off the ball by Mark Bennet whose pass to Nathan Fowles sent the scrumhalf on a direct course to the line for an unconverted try.
Having failed to make inroads with their backs Leinster used their heavy men to make ground with one pass rugby. But when the ball was switched to the right second row Scott Fardy was on hand to take the pass and score in the corner, the lead changing again with Byrne’s conversion.
Leinster were dominating possession and when Jamieson Gibson-Park threw out a long pass winger Barry Daly finished with his side’s third try for a 19-12 lead.
But in first half stoppage time Edinburgh put Leinster under pressure on their own line, the siege resulting in a try for prop Murray McCallum leaving the visitors with a slender two point lead at half time.
Leinster’s dominant scrum evinced a number of penalties at the set-piece but somehow Edinburgh managed to defend the ensuing play with gritty work against the visitors’ maul.
Having survived a spell of pressure Edinburgh hit the attack button with a long kick and chase by Darcy Graham. From a prime position they moved the ball wide and, when replacement scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne put in a delicate chip kick, winger Duhan van der Merwe collected before powering over.
Leinster, however, showed their fighting spirit with a fourth try, and a second for Daly after Ross Byrne had slung out a finely judged long range pass to give the wing room to squeeze in at the corner for a 24-22 lead.
It looked as though Leinster would hold on to their lead but with a minute of proper time remaining Edinburgh repeated their tactic of chipping the ball over the Leinster defence. This time replacement Glenn Bryce tapped the ball back into the hands of Mark Bennett, who romped over for Edinburgh’s fifth try, Hidalgo-Clyne converting for good measure and a 29-24 win.
Scoring sequence – 4mins: Deegan try; 0-5; R Byrne con 0-7; 13 mins: Crosbie try; 5-7; Van der Walt con 7-7; 15 mins: Fowles try 12-7; 24 mins: Fardy try 12-12; R Byrne con 12-14; 33 mins: Daly try 12-19; 43 mins: McCallum try; 17-19; Half-time. 59 mins: Van der Merwe try 22-19; 65 mins: Daly try 22-24; 78 mins: Bennett try 27-24; Hidalgo-Clyde con 29-24.
EDINBURGH: D Fife, D Graham, M Bennett, C Dean, R Van der Merwe, R Van der Walt, N Fowles, J Lay, C Fenton, M McCallum, F McKenzie (capt), L Carmichael, L Crosbie, J Ritchie, V Mata.
Replacements: N Cochrane for Fenton (43 mins), R Sutherland for Lay (56 mins), M Shields for McCallum (66mins), S Hidalgo-Clyne for Fowles (56 mins), J Rasolea for Dean (68 mins), G Bryce for Graham (66 mins), M Bradbury for Ritchie (67 mins).
LEINSTER: D Kearney; F McFadden, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, B Daly; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; P Dooley, R Strauss (capt), M Bent, R Molony, S Fardy, J Murphy, W Connors, M Deegan.
Replacements: B Byrne for Strauss (43 mins), E Byrne for Dooley (43 mins), M Kearney for Murphy (72 mins), L McGrath for Jamieson-Park (59 mins), A Byrne for Kearney (72 mins).
Referee: P Williams (NZRFU) .