Local boy Damien Hoyland was the star man as Edinburgh Rugby kicked off the Guinness PRO12 campaign with a 16-9 win over Leinster at Meggetland last night.
The 21-year-old, who learned his rugby at Boroughmuir while a pupil at James Gillespie’s High School, played down his pride at his touchdown double, but there was no doubting his delight at the result.
“First things first, we’ve won our first league game of the season. We’ve backed up our wins in our two warm up games with a win in our first league game,” he said. “It was such a good feeling to get the first game out of the way.”
For Hoyland the result was all that mattered and he said of the fact that his scoring feat had occurred on his home patch: “I suppose it is a nice touch but really as long as we are winning at home, it doesn’t really matter where I score.”
The youngster’s performance was about much more than just his ten-point contribution, however, as Edinburgh started slowly then raised the pace after the break to score an important victory with a solid performance.
The club’s youngsters were key to the outcome with centre Chris Dean looking lively before being forced off through injury while his replacement James Johnstone also posed a threat to the Leinster defence.
The home bank row also looked a solid unit, with newcomer Nasi Manu showing a good work ethic that earned him the man-of-the-match award on his competitive debut for the club and fitting in well alongside Cornell du Preez and skipper Roddy Grant.
Leinster had the bulk of the possession in the opening minutes but never posed any real threat to the home line. The first score of the night came in 17 minutes when Isa Nacewa booted a penalty for the visitors. He had an ambitious attempt at doubling the tally with an attempt on goal from inside his own half. That effort was narrowly off target and the miss sparked a spell of Edinburgh pressure.
Nathan Fowles squared matters when he landed a three pointer for the Capital side. He missed with his next attempt but the hosts continued to have the edge in terms of possession and territorial advantage. However, they were unable to add to their tally.
The hosts raced into action after the restart and a multi-phase attack produced a penalty just inside the Leinster 22. However, Fowles was off target with his kick.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen shuffled his pack with four substitutions but the home side continued to enjoy the bulk of the possession. They appeared to have broken through when Phil Burleigh booted a penalty into touch and the home pack rumbled over from the ensuing lineout. However, the television official ruled that no try had been scored.
With Edinburgh continuing to press, the score seemed inevitable and it did eventually come in 57 minutes when another string of attacks stretched the Leinster defence and the ball was popped out to Hoyland, who dotted down.
Leinster responded with their first visit of the second period to the Edinburgh half and a penalty for offside presented Nacewa with an opportunity to claw back three points, which he duly accepted to leave the Irishmen two points adrift entering the final quarter.
introduced international Hamish Watson and Greig Tonks as Edinburgh sought to see out the game, but an offence at a scrum on half way handed Nacewa another scoring opportunity with ten minutes left on the clock. On this occasion, the powerful full back was wide of the target with his effort.
Having survived that scare, Edinburgh extended their advantage when Jack Cuthbert hammered over a long-range penalty. However, they immediately handed the initiative back to the visitors and Nacewa again cut the gap to two points with his third penalty of the match.
That ensured a tense finale but Edinburgh were not be denied the win their second half efforts had merited and another spell of sustained pressure created the platform for Hoyland to sprint over for his second try.
“I probably could have given it,” he said with a grin.
Edinburgh: Tries – Hoyland (2). Pens – Fowles, Cuthbert
Leinster: Pens – Nacewa (3)
Edinburgh Rugby: J Cuthbert, D Fife, C Dean (J Johnstone 24), S Beard (G Tonks 69), D Hoyland, P Burleigh, N Fowles (S Kennedy 62), R Sutherland, N Cochrane, J Andress (S Berghan 75), A Bresler, B Toolis, C Du Preez, R Grant (H Watson 62), N Manu
Leinster: I Nacewa, F McFadden, B Te’o, N Reid, D Fanning, C Marsh (R Byrne 58), L McGrath, J Hagan (R Burke-Flynn 43), A Dundon ((B Byrne 43), M Bent, T Denton (R Molony 43), M McCarthy, K McLaughlin ((D Ryan 49), D Leavy (P Dooley 66), J Conan
Referee: P Fitzgibbon (IRFU)