Leinster edge out Edinburgh
September 22, 2012
Jonathan Sexton finished with 12 points in Leinster's win at home to Edinburgh
© Getty Images
European champions Leinster were made to work hard by Edinburgh to finish with a win, but in the end they had enough quality to hold off the Scottish team and finish with a 22-16 victory.
Jonathan Sexton put Leinster 10-0 ahead by the 16th minute with a try, conversion and a penalty, but the rest of the half's scoring came from two penalties by Edinburgh's Greig Laidlaw. Brendan Macken grabbed two tries either side of another Laidlaw penalty to put Leinster firmly in control and not even a late WP Nel try could allow Edinburgh to overhaul Leinster.
Proceedings began on a sombre note as a minute's silence was impeccably observed in honour of Ulster's Nevin Spence, who died tragically last weekend. The match got under way amid a fans' rendition of 'Stand up for the Ulstermen' and Leinster built up an early head of steam, threatening from quick ball. Sexton sent Cian Healy hurtling through a sleepy Edinburgh midfield, and the fly-half followed up to spear through a gap in the drifting defence and score the opening try.
The left-sided conversion was added by Sexton, who moved Leinster into double figures by the end of the first quarter, landing a penalty from the right after Andrew Conway was kept out close to the try-line.
Without the services of ace finisher Tim Visser, Edinburgh were unable to fire a shot until Netani Talei and Stuart McInally made a couple of midfield busts. A snappy break from Richie Rees got the Scots into scoring range and, after Nick De Luca's near miss from a hanging kick, their captain Laidlaw potted a simple penalty for 10-3. Edinburgh drew closer thanks to a longer strike from Laidlaw just past the half hour mark, as an increasing amount of unforced errors left Leinster frustrated.
Lee Jones was thwarted by Isa Nacewa in a one-on-one out wide and the hosts had to scramble as eye-catching bursts from De Luca and Ross Ford almost led to a late try.
As the second half began, Leinster needed a spark of inspiration and it came from replacement centre Macken, who launched a superb counter attack from deep. Backs and forwards combined to keep the move going and Edinburgh prop John Yapp's efforts in slowing up a close-in ruck resulted in him being yellow carded. As Leinster pressed again, the Scots had lock Sean Cox sin-binned for killing the ball.
The under-strength Edinburgh scrum managed to stave off a pushover score though, and debutant Tom Denton was also tackled into touch. The numerical advantage eventually paid off for Leinster in the 57th minute as they flooded forward in support of the fast-breaking Fionn Carr, who passed for Macken to finish off in the right corner. Sexton was unable to convert and Edinburgh responded with another Laidlaw penalty on the hour mark to stay in the hunt.
However, a bout of hard running and crisp passing helped Leinster take a sizeable leap towards victory. Man-of-the-match Macken snuck through for his second try, profiting from Jordi Murphy's pass out of a tackle.
Edinburgh were far from finished, their forwards carrying with purpose in the shadow of the posts and a lovely pop pass from Rees put replacement Nel over in the 71st minute. Laidlaw converted to give the Scots a deserved losing bonus point, but there were no further scores despite plenty of action in the late stages.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14