Edinburgh are left in tatters by Leinster

Edinburgh's Grant Gilchrist contests a line-out with Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin. Picture: Jane Barlow

Edinburgh's Grant Gilchrist contests a line-out with Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin. Picture: Jane Barlow

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An injury to Tim Visser added to the woes of an Edinburgh Rugby team outplayed 31-16 by European champions Leinster in front of a crowd of 3821 at a sombre Murrayfield apart from a brilliant solo try for Willem Nel too late, alas, to reverse the flow.

As if a heaviest home 
defeat of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 league campaign couldn’t have got any worse for Edinburgh, top try scorer Visser was led off after 48 minutes suffering what appeared a serious shoulder knock while Six Nations contender Stuart McInally was another home casualty who 
retired looking dazed.

If Edinburgh got off lightly in their derby tussles with a Glasgow side unable to twist the knife there was no such escape this time as the four-try bonus point was collected with 13 minutes to spare.

Leinster were strides sharper in thought and deed and while Edinburgh never threw in the towel they were comprehensively outplayed in all departments with some elementary errors compounding the 
misery.

Edinburgh showed the Jekyll and Hyde nature of their scrummaging in the opening spell when, after being ripped apart to concede a penalty on halfway, they quickly regrouped to turn an attacking Leinster set-piece and gain the put-in.

It had been an initial spell featuring some ferocious tackling notably Allan Jacobsen’s hit on Brian O’Driscoll while later the enire back row were to distinguish themselves in defence, but there was no doubt the Irishmen were making the running with winger Fionn Carr twice threatening the home line.

Somehow Edinburgh survived a searching examination and when Piers Francis gathered his own chip ahead there was briefly a look at the Leinster 22 before a knock-on cost ground.

However, was a much more determined Edinburgh were looking to avoid a fifth straight defeat and they took the lead in 17 minutes through Laidlaw with a penalty for a scrum infringement 30 metres out and straight.

By the start of the second quarter, though, Leinster had levelled with a penalty by Jonny Sexton for a debateable high tackle by Jacobsen on O’Driscoll.

A miss from slightly further out by Sexton then gave Edinburgh a let-off but Greig Tonks’ twice kicking down the throat of Carr was living dangerously against opponents full of neat running angles and sharp 
off-loads.

When Leinster returned to Edinburgh’s 22 their pressure was rewarded with a penalty try from a catch and drive while David Denton was dismissed to the sin-bin for illegally disrupting a likely score.

Sexton converted and for all their bravery in defence a lack of composure was all to apparent in Edinburgh’s attack and they were made to pay in 37 minutes.

Sean Cronin drew in the defence on the drive and the ball was fed out by Cian Healy giving Gordon D’Arcy an easy run-in, Sexton converting. How 
Edinburgh needed a boost and it came on the stroke of half-time with a penalty from Laidlaw to leave them 6-17 down at the turnaround.

Edinburgh, with James King on for Ben Atiga who had struggled to make an impression at centre, had to live on their wits with a quick throw-in by Tonks when Sexton pushed them back to within a metre of the goal-line.

Then Tonks produced a superb catch under pressure and Edinburgh escaped when a Healy “try” was disallowed just as Roddy Grant was preparing to come on for a groggy McInally.

Quickly joining McInally on the sidelines was Tim Visser who looked to have suffered a shoulder knock to be replaced by his brother Sep.

Remarkably, Edinburgh stemmed the one-way traffic for Francis to fire over a wobbly drop goal and a kick ahead by Sean Cox promoted further encouragement until Sep Visser spilled his first touch. There was no denying Leinstet whose third converted try was scored by Sexton after a series of dummies were sold by sub. Shane Jennings.

If Leinster were well worth another touchdown at least Edinburgh were prepared to go down fighting as shown by breaks from Sep Visser and Francis and a yellow card for Sean O’Brien helped too. But that old failing of butchering a line-out throw surfaced and with 13 minutes remaining Ian Madigan sealed the bonus point with a try converted by Sexton. It was the cue for some exhibition rugby from Leinster down the home straight interrupted only by a sensational try from Nel who galloped 40 metres for a solo try converted by Francis. Moments later Nel was substituted to a warm ovation.

Scorers: Edinburgh: Try; Nel. Conversion: Francis. Penalties: Laidlaw (2). Drop goal: Francis.

Leinster: Tries: Penalty try, D’Arcy, Sexton, Madigan. Conversions: Sexton (4). Penalties: Sexton

Attendance: 3821

Edinburgh: Tonks, Fife, Scott, Atiga (King, 40), T Visser (S Visser, 48), Francis, Laidlaw, captain (Rees, 73), Jacobsen (Hislop, 61), Titterrell (Lawrie, 61), Nel, Gilchrist, Cox, McInally (Grant, 45), Denton, Basilaia (Parker, 55). Subs not used: Cross,

Leinster: Kearney (Conway, 61), Carr, O’Driscoll. D’Arcy (Boss, 68), Fitzgerald (Madigan, 62), Sexton, Reddin, Healy (Van der Merwe, 61), Cronin (Dundon, 68), Ross (Bent, 62), Cullen, captain, Toner, (Denton, 58), McLaughlin (Jennings, 48), O’Brien, Heaslip.

Referee: I Davies (Wales).