Edinburgh gave themselves a confidence boost ahead of their crucial European Cup quarter-final match against Munster next Saturday at BT Murrayfield with a forward orientated bonus point win over Leinster last night. The Scottish capital side, however, will know they will have to produce a much stronger and a much more inventive game against Munster next weekend if they are to have any hope of causing an upset in the European competition.
Last night, although winning the try count 4-1, Edinburgh produced little in the way of creative back play and for all of their scores they had to rely on a power performance from their forwards in the set-piece. Leinster too were drawn into this type of crowd-displeasing game, their only try coming from a driving maul. Still with so many inexperienced players on show last night and with a home semi final in the play-offs already guaranteed, Leinster might be excused for their lack of ambition, albeit that there is a need to maintain a performance level ahead of the later stages of the PRO14.
What this type of performance says about Edinburgh’s likely approach to the Munster game next weekend is anyone’s guess. It is hardly conceivable that Edinburgh will try to outmuscle Munster in the way they disposed of Leinster last night. For Leinster this has to classed as a disappointing performance as few players came out with credit. What was impressive for most of the game was the backline defence that forced Edinburgh into a forward dominated game.
Leinster showed their willingness to battle by putting early pressure on Edinburgh with clever inter-passing among the outside backs that ended with a five metre scrum. The visitors then turned the screw in the set piece to win a penalty, leaving Ciaran Frawley with a simple three-pointer. Edinburgh were put further on the back foot after losing Fraser McKenzie to the sin-bin following the second row’s tip tackle on Noel Reed that forced the centre leave the field with a head injury.
Leinster soon made their advantage tell when from a line-out in the corner the forward pack drove the maul for Sean Cronin to score a trade-mark try giving the visitors an 8-0 lead. Edinburgh tried to reply in kind but failed to hold on to the ball in a driving maul.But from a penalty award Edinburgh kicked to the corner only to win another penalty at the ensuing line-out maul. This time Edinburgh, albeit having to be patient through the phases, made their effort count as prop WP Nel finally forced his way over, Jaco van der Welt adding the extras.
Leinster quickly hit back with a second penalty goal by Frawley but the visitors were soon on the defensive when Edinburgh’s scrum showed their power, eventually resulting in a penalty try for the home side. and a 14-11 interval advantage Early in the second half Leinster openside Dan Leavy was sent to the sin bin for mal-practice in the contact area and immediately Edinburgh took advantage, using their superior numbers to drive a line-out ending with a try for hooker Ross Ford and the conversion from Van der Welt.
Leinster then felt the force of the Edinburgh forward pack who forced a clutch of penalties from their set-piece play and their work at the breakdown. The visitors’ defence was tested to the limit and finally cracked when Bill Mata crashed over for Edinburgh’s bonus point try, converted by replacement out half Simon Hickie. The visitors came close to salvaging some pride at the death when after multi-phase play a bundle of bodies piled over but after consultation with the TMO referee Ben Whitehouse ruled that no try had been scored, leaving Edinburgh clear and relieved winners.
Tries Nel, pen try , Ford, Mata Cons Van der Welt (2), Hickie Leinster Tries Cronin, Pens Frawley (2)
D Fife; D Graham, J Johnstone, M Scott (C Dean 49), D van der Merwe; J van der Walt (S Hickey 49), H Pyrgos (C Shiel 68); P Schoeman (A Dell 69), R Ford (C Fenton 65), WP Nel (S Berghan 51); F McKenzie, B Toolis (C Hunter-Hill 34), J Barclay (M Bradbury 57), H Watson, V Mata.
Tries: Bent. Pens: Frawley 2.
C Frawley; F McFadden, N Reid (C O’Brien 65), J Tomane (G Mullin 74), B Daly; R Byrne, L McGrath (N McCarthy 63); E Byrne (J McGrath 53), S Cronin (B Byrne 40), M Bent (A Porter 53), J Murphy, M Kearney, R Ruddock (J Dunne 74), D Leavy (O Dowling 65), M Deegan.
B Whitehouse (WRU)
Cardiff Blues overcame the early loss of Wales flanker Josh Navidi to destroy Scarlets 41-17 at the Arms Park.
Navidi departed in the second minute with what appeared to be a serious elbow injury but it did not stop a rampant Cardiff, who ran in five first-half tries.
Aled Summerhill and Owen Lane each scored two, Josh Turnbull the other, with Gareth Anscombe converting all five and adding two penalties.
Rob Evans scored two tries for Scarlets with Ioan Nicholas also crossing. Leigh Halfpenny converted one.
The bonus-point win strengthened Blues’ hopes of a Pro 14 play-off spot.