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Edinburgh Rugby (10) 15 - 13 (6) Leinster Rugby
Murrayfield
Att: 3,138
Saturday, 19 April 2008, 19:30

So it was Edinburgh. Again! Leinster welcomed back Brian O'Driscoll from injury but Leo Cullen retained the captaincy. Leinster arrived in the Scottish capital in touching distance of the Magners League title but with a bonus point win the requirement it seemed an unlikely target.

The opening exchanges were encouraging however with Leinster dominating possession and in the set pieces. It was Leinster who took the lead from Contepomi's boot just shy of ten minutes.

Edinburgh ground their way back into the match and on sixteen minutes were celebrating a try with Ross Ford crossing over and Phil Godman converting. It was a big blow for Leinster having dominated the early exchanges.

Leinster responded in a manner that had been so successful in recent matches, through the forwards. Leinster enjoyed phase after phase in Edinburgh's half and yet couldn't force their way over the Edinburgh whitewash. Instead a penalty had to suffice and the opportunity to come within one point of Edinburgh. Contepomi obliged, but within minutes Edinburgh again extended their lead with another kick from Godman leaving the score 10-6.

Leinster's pressure was beginning to tell and the home side lost their captain Alistair Hogg to the sin bin right on the stroke of half time. The half time whistle brought the teams in with Edinburgh in a four point lead but Leinster a man up for the bulk of ten minutes after the break.

It was essential that Leinster capitalised on the numerical advantage, but a combination of bad choices and superb Edinburgh defence saw Leinster repelled. In fact it was Edinburgh who were carving out opportunities with a missed drop goal attempt and a narrow miss from Godman with the kicking tee.

Eventually however Edinburgh got the break through that they had been threatening. With ten minutes left on the clock, David Callam was the grateful recipient after MacDonald's run through the heart of Leinster's defence. Although Godman missed the conversion, Edinburgh's lead was 9 points and Leinster were again staring defeat in Edinburgh in the face.

Leinster were thrown a lifeline when Luke Fitzgerald crossed over for a try following Felipe Contepomi's break. Contepomi converted to leave the teams a mere two points apart. Leinster pressed for the win, deep in Edinburgh territory but seemed reluctant to attempt the drop goal that would have sealed the win. Instead the Edinburgh defence was penalised for a ruck infringement and Contepomi was offered a kick at goal to snatch the win. 

Although a defeat would be hard on Edinburgh, having dominated possession and created two tries, it is snatching victory from the jaws of defeat that is the sign of champions. As Leinster supporters saw Contepomi's penalty smack back off the upright they knew they weren't champions. Yet.

A defeat then, but perhaps a crucial bonus point. The equation becomes far simpler and a mere four point win versus the Dragons in a fortnight will seal the title as opposed to a bonus point win. Although it is not a foregone conclusion, Leinster would have to fancy taking the Welsh region at home. And with the performance of the pack this season, and with the rusty O'Driscoll with gametime under his belt Leinster will fancy their chances of lifting the trophy in front of a packed RDS.

Match Statistics
  Edinburgh Rugby   Leinster Rugby
Tries Ford
Callam
  Fitzgerald
Conversions Godman   Contepomi
Penalties Godman   Contepomi (2)
Sin bin Hogg    
 
Teams Hugo Southwell 15 Girvan Dempsey
Simon Webster 14 Luke Fitzgerald
Ben Cairns 13 Brian O'Driscoll
Nick De Luca 12 Felipe Contepomi
John Houston 11 Robert Kearney
Phil Godman 10 Jonathan Sexton
Greig Laidlaw 9 Chris Whitaker
 
Augusto Allori 1 Ollie Le Roux
Ross Ford 2 Bernard Jackman
Gavin Kerr 3 Stan Wright
Matt Mustchin 4 Leo Cullen (C)
Ben Gissing 5 Trevor Hogan
Ali Hogg (C) 6 Stephen Keogh
Alan MacDonald 7 Shane Jennings
David Callam 8 Jamie Heaslip
 
Replacements Andrew Kelly 16 Brian Blaney
Geoff Cross 17 Stephen Knoop
Craig Hamilton 18 Malcolm O'Kelly (for Cullen, 36)
Scott Newlands 19 Keith Gleeson (for Jennings, 55)
Ben Meyer 20 Chris Keane
David Blair 21 Christian Warner (for O'Driscoll, 67)
Calum MacRae 22 Gary Brown
 
Not Considered
due to Injury

  Gordon D'Arcy
Shane Horgan
Officials Referee: Tim Hayes (WRU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2008-04-21

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