Leinster 21, Edinburgh 13: Brave Edinburgh scare former champs

Jason Tovey
Jason Tovey
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Jason Tovey gave a stunning personal display but despite their best efforts Edinburgh couldn’t even salvage a losing bonus point against Leinster in the PRO14 at the RDS.

Edinburgh had not won at Leinster since 2005 and they were facing a side on the back of their first defeat of the season against Cheetahs.

The hosts had four returning British & Irish Lions but they only held a 14-13 half-time lead after Edinburgh dominated the early stages.

Edinburgh out-half Tovey scored all 13 points for his side in the first-half, and despite tries from Jordi Murphy and Joey Carbery they only trailed by one at the break.

Jamie Ritchie got yellow as Leinster looked to move out of touching distance late on but it took until the dying minute for Jamison Gibson-Park to ensure victory.

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said: “I think we deserved a point. I need to see the disallowed try again, but last week we had a try awarded against us when it was crossing and we probably feel that it probably wasn’t crossing this time. I think Fardy engaged the attacker rather than the attacker engaged the defender, so we deserved a point for sure.

“Look, I thought we played very well, Leinster are a good side. You give them too many opportunities to score and they’ll take then and they did tonight.

“But I think we gave them one hell of a fright and at least we come away with out heads held high and with a bit of respect.”

Edinburgh had a brilliant start to the game and they turned down a kick at goal after just three minutes, as they looked for more of a return from their early dominance.

Leinster’s loss in Bloemfontein last weekend was their first time to miss out on a point in the league since December 26, 2016 at Munster and they were sluggish.

It ended up with Ireland international lock Devin Toner tackling Cornell du Preez high right in front of the posts two minutes later. This time Tovey couldn’t turn down the opportunity and Edinburgh were 3-0 up.

Scotland Sevens star James Johnstone was having a major influence and poking holes in the Leinster rearguard. And they could have had a try shortly after going ahead but Glenn Bryce was dragged down short of the Leinster line.

But they still got a penalty from the same drive, Leinster were off-side, and Tovey made it two successes from two attempts for a 6-0 lead.

But when Dave Kearney went up to contest the drop-off he was up-ended by Dougie Fife, Leinster won a penalty and Johnny Sexton kicked into the corner.

The Leinster maul assembled itself and although it splintered they got within inches of the line with Jordi Murphy scoring the all-important first try.

Sexton scored the conversion and an altercation between Scott Fardy and Darryl Marfo resulted in a 30-man scuffle as tensions rose.

Leinster looked to be taking control but then Sexton’s pass to Sean Cronin was picked off by Tovey and he raced in to touch down on the half hour.

Tovey also slotted the conversion and the RDS was stunned, with Tom Brown providing the heroics to dislodge the ball from Carbery grasp with the line at his mercy two minutes later.

Leinster needed to score before half-time but Sexton turned down two very kickable penalty opportunities. But this time Leinster held their composure and Carbery crashed over in the right corner.

Sexton’s conversion gave Leinster a 14-13 half-time lead and Leinster should have built on that at the start of the second-half.

Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin were both hauled down within inches of the Edinburgh line, before British & Irish Lion McGrath knocked on. And when they returned it took the heroics of Hamish Watson to prevent a try as he won a penalty near his own line.

Edinburgh worked their way back up-field but were dealt a huge blow 11 minutes into the second-half. Luke McGrath was caught late by James Ritchie and the Edinburgh blindside was shown yellow.

Leinster were still 14-13 ahead but despite the yellow, they weren’t comfortable, and Ritchie was back on the field before the hosts had made an impression on the scoreboard.

The hosts needed a massive wake-up call and it came in the 15 minutes from time when Fife’s try was disallowed for crossing.

Leinster were looking to move out of range, and thoughts of a four-try bonus point were gone, but Edinburgh stayed in it. The Leinster line-out was poor in the final quarter but they just did enough.

Blair Kinghorn’s wayward kick ended up with Leinster’s replacement scrum-half Gibson-Park sealing the win.

Scorers

Leinster: Tries: J Murphy, J Carbery, J Gibson-Park. Cons: J Sexton 2, R Byrne

Edinburgh: Tries: J Tovey. Con: J Tovey. Pens: J Tovey 2

Leinster: J Carbery; F McFadden, R O’Loughlin N Reid (J Larmour 59), D Kearney; J Sexton (R Byrne 69) , L McGrath (J Gibson-Park 66); J McGrath (E Byrne 59), S Cronin (B Bryne 59), T Furlong (A Porter 59); D Toner, S Fardy; R Ruddock, J Murphy (R Molony 75) , S O’Brien (M Deegan 59)

Edinburgh: G Bryce; D Fife (R Freuan 76), J Johnstone, P Burleigh, T Brown (B Kinghorn 58); J Tovey, S Hidalgo-Clyne (N Fowles 54); D Marfo, S McInally (N Cochrane 31-38 blood, 59), S Berghan (K Bryce 51); F McKenzie (A Bresler 46), G Gilchrist; J Ritchie, H Watson (J Hardie 61), C du Preez

Referee: I Davies (WRU)

Attendance: 13,213