Edinburgh's long wait goes in Dublin goes on as weakened Leinster flex muscle
Edinburgh’s lack of precision proved costly as they failed to put an understrength Leinster side to the sword at the RDS as their quest for a first win in Dublin since 2005 goes on, losing 36-27.
Coach Sean Everitt said they needed to use first-half possession much better and it left them chasing the game. “To come back and beat Leinster from 21-6 down at half-time is always going to be a tough task,” he said. “We got better in the second half, we got a little bit more continuity. Scored three tries, but at the end of the day unforced errors cost us dearly.
“I think maybe had we been more clinical in the first half, maybe the result would have been different. We could have gotten a couple of points out of it, which is what you need when you’re away from home. It’s not always possible to get a win, but I think the guys will be pretty disappointed in how we pretty much beat ourselves tonight.”
Leinster’s inexperienced side had far too much craft for the Scots who lacked the penetration to make possession count and left empty-handed. The experience of props Pierre Schoeman and WP Nell gave Edinburgh an edge in the scrums in the opening half but Leinster looked far more dangerous in broken play with Tommy O’Brien and Jordan Larmour offering plenty of threat out wide and by the interval they had six linebreaks to nil.
A penalty from Ben Healy, back playing in Ireland for the first time since his summer move from Munster, from 42 metres after a no-arms tackle by his former Munster team-mate Jason Jenkins was a poor reward for their early possession and Leinster, backed by the blustery wind, made them pay.
A good turnover by Tommy O’Brien ended with a five-metre lineout after a good touch from Harry Byrne and while the lineout was far from clean, hooker Lee Barron barged through scrum-half Charlie Shiel to score a converted try after 21 minutes.
Leinster built on that opening try and while Charlie Ngatai was held up, a succession of penalties resulted in a yellow card for Edinburgh lock Glen Young nine minutes from the break and after a tapped penalty where Barron was stopped short, a quick recycle saw Max Deegan bust over, with Byrne adding the extras.
Healy cut the gap with his second penalty four minutes from the break when he converted from 35 metres. But Leinster pulled away before the break when Byrne’s looping pass put Ciaran Frawley over for his first try in 16 months to lead it 21-6 at the interval.
Edinburgh, similar to the start of the game, failed to make possession count after the restart and it was Leinster who wrapped up the bonus point and secured the win after 52 minutes when Barron, after a superb turnover in midfield, supplied the decisive pass a few phases later for O’Brien to race down the right and cut in to score under the posts, with Byrne’s conversion making it 28-6.
Edinburgh hit back within a minute when replacement James Lang got over after good work from Blair Kinghorn and Shiel, with Healy’s convert reducing the margin to 28-11.
The game became disjointed as both sides emptied their benches but it was Leinster who struck again when No.8 James Culhane got his first try after a good drive from a lineout in the left corner after 58 minutes. That left Edinburgh trailing by 33-13 but they got a lifeline 13 minutes from time when Connor Boyle finished off a lineout in the left corner, with Healy’s excellent conversion bringing them to within 13.
That prompted Sam Prendergast to go for the posts and take the points from a 35 metre penalty nine minutes from the end but Edinburgh set up a tight finish when Boan Venter managed to ground the ball after Shiel was stopped short, with Healy continuing his flawless kicking to get within nine but they never looked like a fourth try or a bonus point as Leinster held on to the ball in the closing minutes.
Leinster: C Frawley; T O’Brien, J Osborne, C Ngatai, J Larmour; H Byrne, C Foley; J Boyle, L Barron, M Ala’alatoa; R Molony, J Jenkins; M Deegan, S Penny, J Culhane. Replacements: R McGuire (for Ala’alatoa 55), R Ruddock (for Deegan 55), B Murphy (for Foley 55), S Prendergast (for Byrne 55), R Russell (for Ngatai 55), P McCarthy (for Boyle 59), B Deeny (for Jenkins 62), D Donnellan (for Barron 67). Scorers: Tries: L Barron, M Deegan, C Frawley, T O’Brien, J Culhane. Cons: H Byrne (4). Pen: S Prendergast.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; W Goosen, M Benntt, M Currie, D van der Merwe; B Healy, C Shiel; P Schoeman, D Cherry, WP Nel; G Young, G Gilchrist (c); T Dodd, H Watson, L Crosbie. Replacements: M Sykes (for Watson 41), C Boyle (for Crosbie 41), J Lang (for Bennett 52), E Ashman (for Cherry 55), B Venter (for Schoeman 55), J Sebastian (for Nel 55), C Dean (for Currie 70). Scorers: Tries: J Lang, C Boyle, B Venter. Cons: B Healy (3). Pens: Healy (2).
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa).