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Leinster Rugby (8) 23 - 8 (3) Edinburgh Rugby
Royal Dublin Society, Dublin
Att: 9,630
Referee: Phil Fear (WRU)
Saturday, 22nd September 2007, 17:30

As first games of the season go, Leinster fans had more than a few reasons to be cheerful leaving the RDS on Saturday evening.  It was far from perfect and they didn't get the bonus point, but compared to previous season's opening games it was a pretty lively display marked by three fine tries.

In the bright sunshine Leinster got off to an equally bright start.  Solid work from the pack earned a penalty but fly-half Jonny Sexton was unfortunate to hit the post with the long-range effort.  He soon made amends by kicking a penalty from closer in after sustained pressure on the Edinburgh line.  Then after eighteen minutes the newly bulked up Luke Fitzgerald received the ball out wide after some smart passing from the midfield.  He showed his new power by breaking a tackle in a superb run to score in the corner.  Sexton missed the conversion but Leinster lead 8-0.

Unfortunately then Leinster went into a lull for the rest of a half marked with uncharacteristic handling errors.  Edinburgh managed to get some continuity going and Phil Godman kicked a penalty to make the half-time score 8-3 to Leinster.  Leinster started the second half with renewed intensity and Sexton kicked a second penalty after 45 minutes.  Five minutes later Gary Brown scored a superb individual try.  Receiving the ball inside his own half he backed himself and left his marker for dead.  On entering the twenty two he grubber-kicked ahead and won the race to touch down.  Sexton again missed the touchline conversion but Leinster were firmly in control at 16-3.  Changes were then made in the pack and Stephen Knoop, Shane Jennings and Cameron Jowitt joined the fray.  There was a series of mauls on the Edinburgh line.  Eventually the ball was released to the backs and Jonny Sexton powered through the tackle of Ben Cairns to score under the posts.  It was his first competitive try for Leinster and most of the players made their way over to congratulate him.  It was a nice touch and he converted his try to take the score to 23-3.  For the remaining ten minutes Leinster tried to score the bonus point try but some sloppy handling let them down.  With the last play of the game, Stan Wright threw a wild pass that was intercepted by Edinburgh wing Andrew Turnbull who ran it back to score a consolation try.  The conversion was missed leaving the final score at 23-08.

So there was a little disappointment in not getting the bonus point but overall Leinster fans were happy enough.  The back-three were excellent and Christian Warner pulled the strings well at inside centre.  Jamie Heaslip and Bernard Jackman were the pick of the pack and Juan Francisco-Gomez had a decent debut, although he clearly has work to do on his fitness.  The most pleasing aspect was the performance of Jonny Sexton who gave a hugely promising performance.  His kicking from hand was excellent, his passing was incisive and he made a couple of great breaks.  He wasn't perfect and he's still raw but he did enough to suggest that we could soon have a serious alternative to Felipe Contepomi at out-half.

leinsterfans.com Man of the Match: Jonathan Sexton

Match Stats
  Leinster Rugby vs Edinburgh Rugby
Tries Fitzgerald
Conversions Sexton   Godman
Penalties Sexton (2)    
Teams Rob Kearney 15 Nick De Luca
Gary Brown 14 Andrew Turnbull
Michael Berne 13 Ben Cairns
Christian Warner 12 John Houston
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Andrew Maxwell
Jonathan Sexton 10 Phil Godman
Chris Whitaker 9 Ben Meyer
Stanley Wright 1 Augusto Allori
Bernard Jackman 2 Andwrew Kelly
Juan Francisco-Gomez 3 Geoff Cross
Trevor Hogan 4 Matt Mustchin
Leo Cullen (C) 5 Ben Gissing
Stephen Keogh 6 Alan MacDonald
Keith Gleeson 7 Ross Rennie
Jamie Heaslip 8 Simon Cross (C)
Replacements Brian Blaney 16 Steven Lawrie
Stephen Knoop 17 Ryan Grant
Devin Toner 18 Craig Hamilton
Cameron Jowitt 19 Roland Reid
Shane Jennings 20 Greig Laidlaw
Cillian Willis 21 Alistair Warnock
Fergus McFadden 22 James Thompson

by Jim O'Connor, © 2007-09-24