Edinburgh may have scaled new heights last weekend in ousting the Heineken Cup aristocrats Toulouse but they were brought down to earth last night by the holders of that trophy as they were downed 54-13 by Leinster.
Michael Bradley’s men will hope that this is the only Dublin disaster they suffer this month and he said afterwards that this result was just not acceptable.
And to compound matters, full-back Tom Brown and flanker Stuart McInally both went off injured during the mauling to raise concerns about their availability for the Heineken Cup semi-final against Ulster in two weeks.
“It’s not good enough to come here and lose by that amount, especially as we had a good side,” said Bradley.
“But Leinster’s quality is so good. They were very dominant at the breakdown and we just could not stop them.
“It’s disappointing as the game was not over by half-time but it was ten minutes into the second-half,” said Bradley.
The Heineken Cup champions showed twelve changes from the side which brushed aside Cardiff last weekend and yet produced eight different try scorers in a devastating display.
Edinburgh were able to go toe-to-toe with them for most of the opening half but tries either side of half-time — ironically from two players Bradley coached with Connacht, hooker Sean Cronin and winger Fionn Carr — put paid to any notions of a first win in Dublin since 2005.
Bradley’s contention that the bounce of the ball which has favoured them in the Heineken Cup has been most noticeable by its absence in the RaboDirect PRO12 was given further credence with Leinster’s first try after seven minutes.
Fergus McFadden’s penalty on the 22 from the right clipped the top of the left post and then twice bounced horribly as Lee Jones tried to control and Shane Jennings pounced to get a hand to the ball and touch down.
But Edinburgh did not dwell on such bad fortune and their response was excellent. They built the phases inside the home 22 and Nick de Luca timed his run to perfection to collect Greig Laidlaw’s pass and race over after eleven minutes.
Laidlaw added the points from the right-wing to edge Edinburgh 7-5 in front.
But if Leinster’s opening try was all about fortune, their second was a score of substance with Dave Kearney breaking superbly down the right before sending McFadden over for an excellent score after 15 minutes.
Leinster’s interval lead of 18-7 would have been more had McFadden not had a nightmare with the boot, landing just one of six attempts in the opening half before Isa Nacewa took over the kicking duties in the second-half.
He eventually found the range with a 29th minute penalty to make it 13-7, with Laidlaw off target at the other end with one from the right.
Edinburgh suffered a big blow before the break when Leinster hooker Sean Cronin struck from a close range ruck to give them an eleven points interval advantage.
Edinburgh needed to respond after the restart but instead they crumbled, losing a scrum five metres from their own line before the superb Leinster out-half Ian Madigan floated a superb crossfield kick which Carr snatched ahead of Jones for the bonus point try. Nacewa added the points from the difficult convert to make it 25-7.
Laidlaw pulled back a penalty but then Edinburgh had an opportunity similar to Leinster’s fourth try but Kearney did enough to prevent De Luca from fielding Laidlaw’s crossfield kick.
Another Laidlaw penalty after 55 minutes, which reduced the deficit to 25-13, suggested a strong finish by the Scots but as both teams emptied their benches, it was the Heineken Cup champions who got stronger and went showboating as Edinburgh sank.
Nacewa extended the lead with a penalty before then cutting a superb line to burst through for a try he converted after 64 minutes for a 35-13 lead.
Leo Auva’a scored within seconds of coming on as Edinburgh tired and the rout was completed in the closing stages as Brendan Macken and Devin Toner also got over to complete a miserable Friday the 13th for Edinburgh.
Last night’s concession of 54 points was Edinburgh’s worst in the league this season since Ulster came to Murrayfield in January and posted 42 on them.
A return to winning ways in Cardiff against a Blues side in freefall will surely be a basic requirement for Edinburgh next Sunday before they return to Dublin for the biggest day in their history just six days later.
Hopefully, they have got that performance out of their system.
Leinster: Tries– Jennings, McFadden, Cronin, Carr, Nacewa, Auva’a, Macken, Toner. Cons: Nacewa (2), Madigan (2). Pens: McFadden, Nacewa
Edinburgh: Tries – De Luca. Cons: Laidlaw. Pens: Laidlaw (2)
Leinster: I Nacewa (N Reid 66); D Kearney, F McFadden (B Macken 68), G D’Arcy, F Carr; I Madigan, I Boss (E Reddan 77); H van der Merwe (J McGrath 66), S Cronin (R Strauss 66), N White (M Moore 70); D Browne, D Toner; R Ruddock, S Jennings, J Heaslip (L Au’vaa 66).
Edinburgh: T Brown (J Thompson 48); L Jones, N de Luca, M Scott, T Visser; G Laidlaw, C Leck; K Traynor (R Hislop 61), R Ford (A Kelly 61), G Cross (J Gilding 61), E Lozada, S Cox (G Gilchrist 40), S McInally (P Godman 75), R Grant (D Denton 61), N Talei (R Rennie 61).