Mark Bennett scored a late winner for Edinburgh as they defeated Leinster in a thrilling Guinness Pro14 clash at Myreside last night.
The 29-24 victory leaves Edinburgh now right in the mix for a top-three finish in Conference B – and they were thankful for the try by centre Bennett in the 79th minute.
The match also saw the return after a three-month ban for gross misconduct of back-row John Hardie, getting 23 minutes under his belt off the bench.
The visitors got off to a flying start when they scored a try within the first five minutes, No 8 Max Deegan powering over from short range. Stand-off Ross Byrne converted.
A few minutes later stand-off Jaco van der Walt had the chance to get Edinburgh’s first points on the board, but the South African’s penalty effort drifted wide.
Leinster were slicker and more purposeful up to this point, but in the 14th minute good Edinburgh pressure led to their first try. Byrne tried to chip a neat little kick over the onrushing Edinburgh defence, but back-row Luke Crosbie read it and managed to charge down the attempt.
The same man then pounced on the loose ball, picked it up and showed great pace to run in from 40 metres. Van der Walt converted from in front of the posts and it was 7-7.
That gave Edinburgh a boost and three minutes later they once again showed tenacity to set up try No 2.
After Bennett stripped the ball in a tackle it came to scrum-half Nathan Fowles who scampered over for the score.
It was unconverted and the Irish side were clearly irked by Edinburgh’s double score because they were soon back in front. Tries by second-row Scott Fardy and winger Barry Daly had them ahead after 34 minutes.
In the 39th minute the hosts were awarded a penalty and, rather than go for the posts, Edinburgh went for touch. The gamble paid off and, a few phases after the resultant lineout, they managed to go over from close range, with new Scotland cap Murray McCallum the man claiming it.
The tighthead prop’s effort could not be converted by Bennett and that left it at 19-17 to Leinster at the break. Edinburgh started the second half under pressure in the forwards though and they did well to keep Leinster out as the hour mark approached.
In the 57th minute Hardie came on to the field along with fellow Scotland internationalists Rory Sutherland and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne. And the trio made an instant impact, helping their side get on the front foot before big winger Duhan van der Merwe powered through two defenders to score the bonus-point try.
Hidalgo-Clyne missed the conversion and, once again, Leinster made them pay with an unconverted bonus-point try of their own through Daly to set-up a thrilling finale.
And it was Bennett who grabbed the glory, getting his hands on a tip back from replacement Glenn Bryce to run in and score.