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Edinburgh Rugby 28 - 36 Leinster Rugby
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh,
Friday, 28th October 2011, 19:35

Here's Jonny ! Leinster came away with a win from Murrayfield on Friday night despite losing the try count 2-3. Leinster needed Jonny Sexton to punish Edinburgh's indiscipline and Sexton, as often before, was not found wanting. It was the 60th minute and 5 for 5 before he missed a conversion. Sexton was sharp and assured throughout a high scoring match that was only won in the 71st minute when he struck a sweet drop goal.

Leinster also had experience in key positions with Rob Kearney proving a handful for the Edinburgh defence. Leo Cullen and Issac Boss also put in a solid shift at lock and scrum half respectively. It was also good to see Dominic Ryan and Kevin McLaughlin back in harness helping the visitors to maintain the edge up front.

Leinster had the edge throughout this encounter, applying pressure with multiple-phase play from the off only for a turnover and then a collapsed scrum to change the early balance with a penalty goal from Edinburgh skipper Greig Laidlaw.

Leinster looked set to make an instant reply when David Kearney made a break up the right touch line in zero space, he then combined with Sexton who found Rob Kearney in clear space only for a tackle by Tim Visser to prevent the try. Edinburgh's Alan Jacobsen was penalised for off side at the breakdown allowing Sexton to level with a successful kick at goal. The only surprise here was Jacobsen not receiving a yellow card for cynical play in the red zone.

A mistake by Leinster at the restart almost resulted in an Edinburgh try, luckily for Leinster the Scots knocked on in the process of grounding the ball, scrum Leinster.

Having defended their own line, Leinster surged to the other end of the pitch with a break by Luke Fitzgerald who found Isaac Boss. Again no try resulted and again Edinburgh transgressed at the contact area giving Sexton his second penalty goal. Again no card, only an unconvincing warning from referee Hodges.

Leinster's lead was short-lived when Laidlaw created a hole which allowed winger Tim Visser to score under the posts, Laidlaw converting for a 10-6 lead.

Edinburgh instantly fell foul of the law at the restart and again Sexton made no mistake with his penalty kick. Then, after a period of good ball retention, Boss sold a trade mark dummy around the fringes to finish with a try converted by Sexton for a 16-10 lead. Penalties were exchanged by both sides resulting in a six-point lead at the half-way stage for Leinster.

The lead changed yet again soon after the restart. Soft defending from both Kearney brothers and Sexton allowed winger Tim Visser to score an unlikely but fabulous try under the posts, Laidlaw converting for a 20-19 lead. While Leinster showed a hard edge in the forwards and a cutting edge in the backs, defence was not as hardnosed and suffocating as we have come to expect. It quickly became a two-point deficit after Sexton put over his fifth penalty, only for Laidlaw to reply to restore Edinburgh's one point advantage with a score of 23-22.

The pendulum swung again in Leinster's favour as Rob Kearney delivered a clever pass after a sumptuous Strauss break to give the impressive Leo Auva'a a try in the corner, Sexton missing with the difficult conversion. His first miss of the night from 6 kicks.

The Ireland outhalf, after missing a penalty kick at goal on the left touchline, quickly atoned with a sixth successful penalty kick, putting daylight between the sides for the first time. This was backed up with a sweetly taken a drop goal in the 71st minute for a 33-23 lead and with Leinster on top of the exchanges you could be forgiven for thinking it was all but done and dusted.

Edinburgh, however, to their credit are never finished. A clever chip by teenage outhalf Harry Leonard had centre Matt Scott racing through, from what looked to be an offside position claiming his side's third try. Laidlaw however, missed the conversion making it a 5 point game. The advantage was still with Leinster. Then in the final minute of the game Edinburgh were again penalised and with gSexto ndeparting the pitch with cramp, Fergus McFadden delivered the points that denied Edinburgh a bonus point but more importantly ensured a win for Leinster.

It was a good night for Leinster. Wins in Edinburgh don't come easy as already demonstrated by recent defeats in Murrayfield of Irish opposition in the form of Munster and Connacht. Another high point of the night was an excellent all-round game from new signing Sean Cronin. Also it is hard to ignore that Sexton excels in the Leinster environment where he is trusted and is given a clear game plan by the Leinster coaches. The legendary man manager is Joe Schmidt. However, with the challenge increasing over the coming weeks. Leinster will need to tighten things considerably, especially in defence.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby

Edinburgh Rugby
Teams Rob Kearney
15 Chris Paterson
David Kearney 14 Simon Webster
Eoin O'Malley 13 Nick de Luca
Fergus McFadden
12 Matt Scott
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Tim Visser
Jonathan Sexton
10 Harry Leonard
Isaac Boss
9 Greig Laidlaw

Heinke van der Merwe 1 Allan Jacobsen
Sean Cronin
2 Ross Ford
Mike Ross
3 Geoff Cross
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Esteban Lozada
Devin Toner 5 Steve Turnbull
Kevin McLaughlin 6 Dave Denton
Dominic Ryan
7 Roddy Grant
Leo Auva'a 8 Stuart McInally

Replacements Richardt Strauss 16 Steven Lawrie
Jack McGrath 17 Kyle Traynor
Nathan White
18 Lewis Niven
Steven Sykes 19 Grant Gilchrist
Rhys Ruddock 20 Netani Talei
John Cooney 21 Mike Blair
Ian Madigan
22 Jim Thompson
Fionn Carr
23 Tom Brown

Not Considered
due to Injury
Mat Berquist,
Eamonn Sheridan,
Shane Horgan,
Simon Shawe,
Tom Sexton,
Ben Marshall

Officials Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU),
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Archie McInally (both SRU),
TMO: Iain Heard (SRU)

by Eugene Canavan, © 2011-10-31