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Leinster Rugby (20) 52 - 6 (6) Edinburgh Rugby
Royal Dublin Showground
Friday, 12 September 2008, 19:30

Leinster crushed a weakened Edinburgh team 52-6 on a balmy Friday evening in the RDS. It was a cagey enough start as both teams got the measure of each other. Edinburgh were testing the Leinster defence but it held firm, a marked improvement on the previous week. Edinburgh did manage to take the lead though with a long-distance penalty from Phil Godman. Felipe Contepomi responded with two penalties for Leinster but Chris Paterson levelled things up again at six all.

Around the half hour mark, the game completely turned in the space of four minutes. First Isa Nacewa, on for the concussed Jonny Sexton, fed Contepomi. Contepomi in turn fed Rob Kearney who had taken a superb line. He cut through the Edinburgh defence and put Luke Fitzgerald in at the corner. Contepomi kicked a superb touchline conversion to make it 13-6 to Leinster. Within four minutes Fitzgerald went to charge down Hugo Southwell's clearance kick. The ball stuck under his arm and he had the simplest of run-ins for his second try. Contepomi converted which made it 20-6, the score remaining that way until half-time.

With a firm grip on the game Leinster showed great patience and kept chipping away at the scoreboard, Contepomi tacking on another two penalties to increase the lead to twenty points. Then came the score which effectively sealed the match. Fitzgerald fielded the ball in his own half and passed to Shane Horgan, who'd come on for Rob Kearney at half-time. He in turn fed Contepomi down the left and looped around to take the return, Contepomi throwing a beautiful blind pass. Horgan passed back inside to Contepomi who tried to pass to the supporting Jennings. An Edinburgh hand knocked the ball back but Fitzgerald, who'd started the move, was there to touch down for his hat-trick try, a perfect present for his twenty-first birthday the next day. Contepomi converted once again and the match was effectively over.

The only question for the home fans now was how long it would take to get the fourth, bonus point try. Three minutes was the answer, as substitute hooker John Fogarty cantered over after taking a reversed pass at the lineout from the impressive Devin Toner, who'd replaced the injured Trevor Hogan. The reaction of his team-mates to the score would suggest he's been a popular addition to the squad.

In the past Leinster have taken the foot off the pedal at this stage but Leinster kept going and bagged two more tries. First Nacewa put Shane Jennings in after good work from subs Chris Keane and Cian Healy. Faced with one of his easiest conversions Contepomi promptly missed. However he made up for it with a superb effort from the touchline after Keane had scored his first ever Leinster try in the corner. That made the final score 52 - 6 and it was a satisfying night's work done for Michael Chieka's men.

Edinburgh will present a much tougher challenge when Leinster face them in four weeks in Murrayfield but if Leinster can show the same patience and respect for the opposition, then a first win in five attempts in Edinburgh is well within their grasp.

leinsterfans.com man of the match: Luke Fitzgerald

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Edinburgh Rugby

Fitzgerald (3)
John Fogarty
Shane Jennings
Chris Keane

Conversions Contepomi (5)
Penalties Contepomi (4)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Hugo Southwell
Luke Fitzgerald
14 Mark Robertson
Brian O'Driscoll 13 Calum MacRae
Felipe Contepomi 12 Nick De Luca
Rob Kearney 11 Chris Paterson
Jonathan Sexton 10 Phil Godman
Chris Whitaker (C)
9 Mike Blair (C)

Ronan McCormack
1 Allan Jacobsen
Bernard Jackman 2 Ross Ford
Stan Wright 3 Geoff Cross
Trevor Hogan
4 Craig Hamilton
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Ben Gissing
Cameron Jowitt
6 Matt Mustchin
Shane Jennings 7 Allister Hogg
Jamie Heaslip 8 Scott Newlands

Replacements Cian Healy (for Wright, 65)
16 Steve Lawrie (for Mustchin, 61)
John Fogarty (for Jackman, 58)
17 Gavin Kerr
Devin Toner (for Hogan, 35)
18 Steve Turnbull (for Gissing, 61)
Sean O'Brien (for Heaslip, 69)
19 Andrew Kelly
Chris Keane (for Whitaker, 65)
20 Greig Laidlaw
Shane Horgan (for Kearney, 40)
21 David Blair (for Godman, 46)
Isa Nacewa (for Sexton, 29)
22 Andrew Turnbull (for Paterson, 46)

Not considered
due to injury
Gordon D'Arcy
Leo Cullen

Officials Referee: Tim Hayes (WRU)
Assistant Referees: M. Black (IRFU), J. Peake (IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)
4th Official: Paul Haycock (ARLB)
5th Official: Ed Kenny (ARLB)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2008-09-15