Edinburgh power past reigning champs Leinster
PRO14 REPORT: A dominant display from the Edinburgh pack saw them record an impressive bonus-point win over Conference B table-toppers Leinster.
Reigning champions Leinster have already booked their place in the PRO14 Finals Series but the strength of Edinburgh’s forwards helped them notch just a second league victory in five games with a scintillating 28-11 triumph.
Sean Cronin’s try had put the visitors into an early lead at BT Murrayfield but WP Nel’s barrelling score and a penalty try turned things round by half-time.
Hooker Ross Ford and No.8 Bill Mata then secured the bonus point after the break and sealed a victory that puts Edinburgh’s own Finals Series hopes right back on track – extending Leinster’s struggles in Scotland that have seen them win there just once in the PRO14 since May 2015.
Leinster made the early running at BT Murrayfield and although returning Scotland prop Nel brilliantly held Mick Kearney up over the line early on, a scrum penalty shortly after gave Ciaran Frawley a simple shot in front of the posts for a 3-0 lead.
Jaco van der Walt hit the upright with a penalty of his own and things then got worse for Edinburgh as Fraser McKenzie was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.
And the visitors took full advantage of their extra man on 14 minutes – Josh Murphy catching a lineout before an inexorable driving maul towards the line ended with Cronin dotting down.
Frawley couldn’t add the conversion and the lead was then sliced to just a point on the half-hour mark as a number of Edinburgh phases ended with prop Nel powerfully driving Ed Byrne over the line with him, and van der Walt slotted the extras.
A Frawley three-pointer following a Jimmy O’Brien break extended the advantage to 11-7 but it was the Scots who went into half-time 14-11 ahead as a series of penalties saw referee Ben Whitehouse award a penalty try after another Leinster scrum infringement.
And Edinburgh carried their momentum into the second half as Dan Leavy was sin-binned for not releasing in the tackle before Ford bashed his way over from close range down the blindside – Van Der Walt’s sublime touchline conversion increasing the lead to ten points.
Relentless forward pressure from Richard Cockerill’s men then led to the bonus-point try on the hour, as 26 phases of up-the-jumper rugby ended with Mata battering his way over to essentially put the result beyond doubt at 28-11.
They then saw the game out, and even held Leinster up over the line at the death, to hand the Irish province just a third PRO14 defeat of the season.
Tries: Nel, Ford, Mata, Penalty Try
Cons: Van der Walt 2, Hickey
Pens: Frawley 2
Yellow cards: Mckenzi (Edinburgh, 11), Leavy (Leinster, 44)
Edinburgh: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Fenton, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Chris Dean.
Leinster: 15 Ciarán Frawley, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Noel Reid, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Josh Murphy, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Oisín Dowling, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Jimmy O’Brien, 23 Conor O’Brien.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Rhys Jones (Wales)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)