TIM VISSER broke the overall Edinburgh Rugby try-scoring record in Rabo Direct Pro 12 league matches with a superb brace, but it wasn’t enough to save his side from a 28-36 defeat by Leinster at Murrayfield.
The Dutchman struck in each half to take his total to 29, one more than wing colleague Simon Webster, while he now has five for the season to stand at the top of the current Celtic charts.
With Matt Scott also crossing to give Edinburgh the try count by 3-2, coach Michael Bradley’s men certainly deserved more.
At least in a match where the lead changed hands a remarkable seven times, Greig Laidlaw was able to take some advantage and his first five kicks before missing two in a tricky wind meant that at one stage he had slotted 15 in a row to ensure Edinburgh were in the hunt until the closing stages.
Alas, Jonny Sexton was equally dead-eyed as the penalties flowed, while a late kick by Fergus McFadden meant Edinburgh were denied even a losing bonus point.
Greig Laidlaw kicked a 30-yard angled penalty to put Edinburgh 3-0 ahead after four minutes. However, almost immediately, Leinster equalised when Sexton slotted the three pointer, and the Irishman added another soon after to make it 6-3.
As end to end action continued. Tim Visser struck for his fourth try of the season, the winger popping up on Laidlaw’s shoulder at a ruck to surge 20 metres under the posts.
Laidlaw converted seconds before Sexton’s third penalty reduced the home lead to 10-9.
Entering the second quarter the game lurched Leinster’s way with a try by scrum half Isaac Boss as he darted through a ruck while Edinburgh’s Leonard protested he was being illegally held. The conversion by Sexton for 16-10 only added to Edinburgh’s grievance at least until Laidlaw made it 13-16 with a penalty, only for Sexton to immediately restore the six point gap.
Turning round 13-19 behind, it took only two minutes for Edinburgh to hit the front with a try by Visser that made him the side’s most prolific scorer ever in the competition. Laidlaw’s conversion was his 14th consecutive kicking success.
Edinburgh couldn’t give themselves a cushion, though, and a 49th minute penalty by Sexton was all the more admirable in a swirling cross-wind.
An innovative ploy at the front of a line-out involving Laidlaw and Ford saw the latter make 40 metres in a belligerent burst which yielded a penalty for Leo Cullen obstructing the supporting Cross. From wide-out Laidlaw again proved sure-footed.
Alas for Edinburgh, Leinster sub Richard Strauss waved the smelling salts under his side’s nose with a charge that saw the ball worked out through Rob Kearney for No 8 Leo Auva’a to cross for an unconverted try and 27-23. And with 15 minutes remaining Sexton hit a penalty, followed by a drop goal, for 33-23.
Then a try from Matt Scott from a Leonard chip deserved more than five points but again Laidlaw was off-target.
The final misfortune for Edinburgh came with a late penalty from Fergus McFadden which denied the hosts even a losing bonus point.
This fifth defeat in seven league starts left coach Bradley with bitter sweet feelings as he reflected on one that got away.
He said: “We just needed to be slightly more patient because when we made our line breaks we forced the extra pass. That was one of the key differences. I suppose we were very disappointed we didn’t get anything out of the match.”