Edinburgh’s hopes of reaching next season’s Champions Cup took a serious blow last night as Leinster inflicted a defeat on Alan Solomons’ side, but a losing bonus point was well deserved by the visitors.
After Tom Brown, Michael Allan and Sean Kennedy tries, a losing bonus point was wrapped up by a late Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty – awarded following a thumping high tackle on Damien Hoyland by Fergus McFadden, who, surprisingly, was not red or even yellow carded.
The result sees Solomons’ troops pull level with Munster on points in sixth place, who they take on in a fortnight’s time.
With Leinster very inaccurate before the break, it wasn’t until the second-half that four tries for the home side gave them the five-point haul.
Richardt Strauss was involved heavily throughout the half, but it was his failure to roll away from the tackle that allowed Jason Tovey to give Edinburgh a 3-0 lead after three minutes.
The rolling maul was Leinster’s attacking weapon of choice of set-piece, but it failed to break the try-line before the break. However, after an eighth-minute maul was stopped and the ball was moved wide, Edinburgh didn’t roll away from the tackle and Ian Madigan levelled matters at 3-3.
He added a second penalty four minutes later when Solomons’ side again infringed at the breakdown, but for all their dominance Leinster couldn’t add to their tally before the break, as the hard tackling Ben Toolis and Anton Bresler led the fight for the Scots.
With Jamie Ritchie sent to the sin-bin in the 34th minute after another penalty concession at a ruck, Edinburgh continued to defend sternly after the restart and a scrum penalty won deep in their own territory showed their prowess in that area. But just before his return Leinster struck for the opening try. Madigan’s inside pass picked out Luke Fitzgerald’s scything run up the middle and he passed to Luke McGrath, who scored under the posts.
But Edinburgh struck back almost instantly when Tovey’s long skip pass sent Tom Brown in the corner, but the out-half’s conversion dropped short for a 13-8 deficit.
In the 50th minute Tovey could have piled the pressure on Leinster, but his penalty to the corner missed touch, and after Leinster cleared their lined, Noel Reid intercepted Sean Kennedy’s pass and Josh van der Flier stretched to score try number two.
Leinster went in search of the bonus point at that juncture as Madigan turned down kickable penalties in favour of the corner, and after the maul was stopped again after 56 minutes, the ball wide opened up Edinburgh and McFadden scored in the corner.
Just after the hour mark Madigan and Fitzgerald tried the same move that produced their first try, but former Ulster winger Allan was wise to the move and intercepted to score a try, which Tovery converted to cut the lead to 25-15.
But Leinster wrapped up the bonus-point win 16 minutes from time when McFadden bagged his second try in the right corner, but Edinburgh hit back seven minutes later when Kennedy danced over from a yard out.