Lacklustre Leinster blow title hopes

Edinburgh 27 Leinster 16
LEINSTER blew their chances of winning the Magners League title after losing to Edinburgh at Murrayfield last night, despite a second-half resurgence.

By then, Leinster were chasing Edinburgh’s 21-3 interval lead with the seemingly impossible task of reeling in the Scottish capital side. But against the odds, Leinster reduced the gap to eight points at one stage after scoring 13 points after the break.

“In the first half we were just not ready for action. I understand that there were a lot of guys in their first game but they’ve got to be on song from the start,” said Leinster coach Mike Cheika.

“This was a bad result for us. We have to keep this winning culture. I was pleased that we edged back into the game in the second half. But this is the kind of game we have to win,” he added.

In defeat, Leinster had encouraging performances from some young players and notably centre Fergus McFadden, who not only played well as a specialist three-quarter but also contributed three penalty goals and a conversion to finish with a 100% strike rate.

It was Edinburgh who broke the first ten minutes of stalemate and error-ridden play when Chris Paterson’s clever kick had the Leinster defence scrambling to avert a score. Edinburgh then worked through the phases and when a gap appeared it was Scotland back row Allistair Hogg who took the scoring pass to romp in under the posts.

There was further trouble for Leinster after what seemed a promising attack ignited by Isa Nacewa. The out-half’s clever kick, however, was scooped up by Scotland hooker Ross Ford who showed excellent running skills before delivering the scoring pass to winger John Houston, Paterson again converting for a 14-0 lead.

Then from a lineout, Edinburgh attacked Leinster’s line making dents in the defence before Mike Blair broke on the blindside to send Scotland wing Simon Webster racing in for his side’s third try, converted by Paterson.

Leinster profited from a penalty award that allowed centre Fergus McFadden kick their first points leaving them trailing 21-3 at the break

A brisk start to the second half saw McFadden adding another penalty after the Edinburgh backs were offside.

The visitors were put under pressure when Shane Horgan failed to hold the ball from Blair’s box kick. Edinburgh moved the ball right but with a clear overlap Paterson opted for an in-field run rather ship the ball to the unmarked Houston.

Edinburgh, however, gained some reward with a penalty goal by Paterson but almost immediately McFadden replied in kind for his third success at goal.

Leinster were again on the score sheet this time with a try made by a run down the touchline by replacement scrum-half Paul O’Donohoe. A move from the subsequent line-out ended with hooker John Fogarty crossing for a try, converted by McFadden.

A second Paterson penalty put Edinburgh back into safer territory and then Hogg drove over from a line-out move only for the score to be chalked off by the television match official.

Edinburgh scorers: Tries: Hogg, Houston, Webster. Cons: Paterson 3. Pens: Paterson 2.

EDINBURGH: Paterson, Houston, Cairns, De Luca, Webster, Godman, M. Blair, Traynor, Ford, G. Cross, C. Hamilton, J. Hamilton, Newlands, MacDonald, Hogg.

Replacements: D. Blair for Godman (53), Grant for G. Cross (60), MacLeod for C. Hamilton (53), Mustchin for Newlands (60).

Leinster scorers: Tries: Fogarty. Cons: McFadden. Pens: McFadden 3.

LEINSTER: Dempsey, Horgan, McFadden, D’Arcy, S. Keogh, Nacewa, Keane, McCormack, Fogarty, Knoop, Cullen, Hogan, Jowitt, O’Brien, S. Keogh.

Replacements: Brown for S. Keogh (21), O’Donohoe for Keane (56), le Roux for Knoop (41), Toner for Hogan (51), McLaughlin for Jowitt (56).

Referee: Tim Hayes (WRFU).

GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP: Sale 28 Harlequins 6


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