Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley believes his side still have some improving to do if they are to learn how to win tight RaboDirect Pro encounters.
Edinburgh managed to claim a losing bonus point in a 22-16 loss to Heineken Cup champions Leinster at the RDS on Saturday despite having John Yapp and Sean Cox sin-binned within two minutes of each other at the start of the second-half.
“Leinster are a quality side but we gave them the opportunity to put pressure on us by virtue of the offloads. We shouldn’t have let that happen, particularly at the start of the second. Maybe next year we’ll learn how to win games like that,” said Bradley, who has now tasted defeat to both Munster and Leinster this season.
A try from WP Nel in the closing stages set Edinburgh up for a chance to take an unlikely victory, but Joe Schmidt’s home side took the win thanks largely to two tries from Brendan Macken – the first arrived when the visitors were numerically disadvantaged.
“We went down to 13 men in the second half and we should never have been in that position. I think we had a great opportunity there,” said a disappointed Bradley.
“You can’t give enough credit to the effort in terms of getting a bonus point. It is a sense of frustration that we have inside in that dressing room, with the amount of effort we put into that game.”
And Bradley admitted the some sloppy play after the break was a real crucial point in deciding the outcome of the fixture.
“We had a bit of momentum at the end of the first half and we got into some good positions at the start of the second half. But we made some very silly off-loads and that allowed Leinster some turnover ball against us.”
Jonny Sexton also crossed for Leinster in the first half, but the home side were made to sweat for the victory after Edinburgh recovered from a poor start to eventually come to grips with the Irish province.
After a bright start the opening try soon arrived for Leinster with eventual scorer Sexton involved twice in the build-up.
Sexton popped a neat pass to Healy and after the prop was held just short of the line, the fly-half profited from some lightening-quick recycling and crashed over past the despairing tackle of Grant Gilchrist.
After Sexton kicked a penalty the Heineken Cup champions looked in total control at that early stage, but as Edinburgh managed to string a few phases together, Leinster’s intensity seemed to wane.
Midway through the half Greig Laidlaw brought his side back in touch with a penalty from under the posts, but it could have been a bigger inroad as Nick De Luca came desperately close to gathering Laidlaw’s garryowen and touching down during the penalty advantage.
The home side’s lead was reduced to 10-6 in the 32nd minute when Mike Ross conceded a penalty and Laidlaw’s kick just made it over the bar.
Ten minutes after the restart Carr cut a super line through the heart of the Edinburgh defence and almost went all the way to the try-line. After he was stopped Leinster recycled the ball and looked certain to cross for the try but Yapp killed the ball by flying off his feet and earned himself a yellow card.
Lock Sean Cox joined his prop in the sin bin two minutes later after a similar infringement and after looking likely to concede from the ensuing scrums, Edinburgh somehow held solid.
Leinster made their two man advantage pay in the 57th minute however when another mazy run by Carr from deep ended in replacement Brendan Macken touching down in the right corner.
Laidlaw kicked his third penalty of the game after Leinster were penalised for crossing in midfield, but just when they needed it most Macken struck for his second try after some fine link play with fellow replacement Jordi Murphy saw him cross in the left corner.
Nel’s late try after some top quality rucking and ball retention by Edinburgh set up a late comeback attempt, but despite coming close to gaining the all important score, Edinburgh ran out of time in their quest.
Leinster: Tries: J Sexton, B Macken (2). Cons: J Sexton (2). Pens: J Sexton
Edinburgh: Tries: WP Nel. Cons: G Laidlaw. Pens: G Laidlaw (3)
Leinster: I Nacewa; A Conway, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy (B Macken, 27), F Carr; J Sexton (I Madigan, 67), J Cooney; C Healy (H van der Merwe, 52), S Cronin, M Ross (J Hagan, 58); L Cullen (D Toner, 58), T Denton; K McLaughlin, S Jennings (J Murphy, 48), J Heaslip.
Edinburgh: G Tonks; L Jones, N de Luca, M Scott, T Brown; G Laidlaw, R Rees; J Yapp, R Ford (A Titterrell, 74), G Cross (WP Nel, 37); G Gilchrist, S Cox; S McInally, R Grant, N Talei (D Basilaia, 64).
Referee: Neil Hennessy (WRU).