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Edinburgh Rugby (21) 27 - 16 (3) Leinster Rugby
Att: 2,747
Friday 17th April 2009

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. There's an argument that Leinster and Edinburgh must be truly sick of the sight of each other having played each other about a dozen times in the last three years. Having said all that there was an unfamiliar look to this Leinster team as most of the previous week's XV were given the weekend off. With Munster so far ahead in the league it seemed that the sole focus of the Leinster management was on the upcoming HEC semi final.

Leinster started brightly enough and controlled a lot of possession in the opening stages albeit not very deep in Edinburgh territory. If this Leinster team were unsure of each other it showed as Edinburgh made a mockery of the Leinster tackling to undermine Leinster's early platform. First Mike Blair and then Phil Godman ran unopposed into the Leinster half before Ali Hogg was fed and facing a mismatch of two prop forwards crossed without much bother at all. Paterson had no trouble with the extras, his metronomic style usually so accurate.

On twenty minutes Ross Ford cut through the Leinster defence the hooker leaving would be tacklers for dead. Ford fed Houston who crossed over the whitewash and again Paterson had no difficulty with the extra points. Leinster were shell shocked and received a blow when Simon Keogh had to be helped from the field with a knee injury. Keogh had waited a long time for a start after a number of try-scoring cameos and it would certainly be a blow to the winger.

Leinster were further blown away ten minutes later when Edinburgh scored their third. Mike Blair bamboozled the Leinster defence with a dummy and Webster did the rest scoring under the posts. Leinster were staring down the barrel of a humiliation and were butchering any opportunities they had through handing errors or poor decision making.

Leinster did open their account before the break however with Fergus McFadden kicking a penalty but these three points failed to put a sheen on what was an abject Leinster performance. Leinster went into the break with denying Edinburgh a bonus point the only realistic target.

After the break Stephen Knoop was replaced by Ollie le Roux and his introduction seemed to spark some life into Leinster. Sean O'Brien whose first half performance seemed to consist of solely giving away penalties, demonstrated why so many are excited by his talent. A barnstorming run into the Edinburgh half brought desperate cover from Paterson and Leinster were repelled but got a penalty. McFadden continued an impressive cameo with the boot by converting to send Leinster on their way in the second half. The former Clongowes player added another penalty shortly after to reduce the deficit to twelve.

Almost out of the blue Leinster found a way back into the match. The introduction of Paul O'Donohue had brought snappiness to Leinster's game and Fogarty made the most of Edinburgh's stretched defence bundling over for a try which McFadden again converted.

Leinster were in striking distance of Edinburgh and looked to kick on, but it was Edinburgh who took the initiative back and stretched their lead back out to eleven points through the boot of Chris Paterson. With the game clock winding down both sides had a bonus point on their minds, Edinburgh for a fourth try and Leinster for being within seven. It seemed that Edinburgh were more likely to achieve their goal as they put Leinster under relentless pressure, but Leinster held out and having won the second half on points will have rued their lack of concentration in the first half in letting three soft tries in.

If the lineup betrayed the management's sense that the league was beyond them, then this result confirmed the suspicion. Leinster find themselves at the climax of the Magners League season and not in the mix for the first time in three years. Perhaps this time they have their eye on a bigger prize but it will be key that they establish some momentum going into the Munster match on the May bank holiday weekend or face up to the possibility of a barren season

Match Statistics

Edinburgh Rugby
Leinster Rugby
Teams Chris Paterson 15 Girvan Dempsey
John Houston 14 Shane Horgan
Ben Cairns 13 Fergus McFadden
Nick De Luca 12 Gordon D'Arcy
Simon Webster 11 Simon Keogh
Phil Godman 10 Isa Nacewa
Mike Blair (C) 9 Chris Keane

Kyle Traynor 1 Ronan McCormack
Ross Ford 2 John Fogarty
Geoff Cross 3 Stephen Knoop
Jim Hamilton 4 Leo Cullen (C)
Craig Hamilton 5 Trevor Hogan
Scott Newlands 6 Cameron Jowitt
Alan MacDonald 7 Sean O'Brien
Ali Hogg 8 Stephen Keogh

Replacements Andrew Kelly 16 Brian Blaney
Ryan Grant (for Cross, 60)
17 Ollie Le Roux (for Knoop, 40)
Scott Macleod (for Hamilton, 53)
18 Devin Toner (for Hogan, 51)
Matt Mustchin (for Newlands, 60)
19 Kevin McLaughlin (for Jowitt, 56)
Greig Laidlaw 20 Paul O'Donohue (for Keane, 56)
David Blair (for Godman, 53)
21 Ian McKinley
Andrew Turnbull 22 Gary Brown (for Simon Keogh, 20)
Not considered
due to injury
CJ van der Linde
Officials Referee: Tim Hayes (WRU)Assistant Referees: John Steel (SRU), Peter Carruthers (SRU)TMO: Jim Yuilles (SRU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2009-04-21