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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 24 June, 2018

Leinster secure top spot despite mixed display against Edinburgh

Matt O’Connor’s men ensured a semi-final against Ulster at the RDS next weekend.

Dave Kearney dashes over for his second-half try.
Dave Kearney dashes over for his second-half try.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Leinster 15

Edinburgh 13

THERE WERE MANY aspects of the performance that will have displeased head coach Matt O’Connor, but Leinster have secured top spot in the RaboDirect Pro12 table and will therefore welcome Ulster to the RDS in the semi-finals next weekend.

The handling and rucking accuracy will need to greatly improve by that time, with knock-ons and spilled possession in contact repeatedly holding the eastern province back against Edinburgh in this final fixture of the regular season.

There were issues with the set-piece too, and O’Connor will be keen to ensure his squad get through an efficient week of training in the build-up to their clash with Ulster. Johann Muller’s men will have revenge on their minds, meaning Leinster will need to be somewhere approaching their best.

It was not all negative for the Leo Cullen-captained home team, as both Jordi Murphy and Dave Kearney crossed the whitewash. Those high-tempo, incisive and accurate attacking passages will be the blueprint for breaking down Ulster.

Source: RaboDirect PRO12/YouTube

Flanker Murphy’s five points were his side’s first in this evening’s clash, with Cullen’s smart linking pass starting the move. Swift hands from Jimmy Gopperth and Gordon D’Arcy allowed Kearney to make metres as he cut inside off his left wing.

Several patient phases later, Ireland international Murphy spun out of a tackle and powered over to dot down. Although Gopperth missed the conversion, the try did put Leinster 5-3 in front after Greig Laidlaw’s early penalty.

Edinburgh battled back into the game, however, having a try disallowed for a forward pass from Tim Visser to Matt Scott and threatening inside Leinster’s 22 for extended passages.

Laidlaw’s penalty on the stroke of half-time saw the visitors go into the break with a 6-5 lead, which lasted until Gopperth struck from the tee in the 51st minute.

Source: RaboDirect PRO12/YouTube

Leinster now looked dangerous in attack, but those familiar handling errors frustrated until Kearney took a clever screen pass from Gopperth to burst through a midfield hole in Edinburgh’s defence and sprint over from 15 metres out.

Gopperth converted this time to put Leinster out to 15-6 and presumably heading for more scores. However, a surprisingly spirited Edinburgh again clawed their way back into the encounter and were rewarded with a 66th-minute try.

Laidlaw broke through and laid off a simple pass to Visser on his right. The Flying Dutchman was never going to be stopped with a headstart such as he was given. Laidlaw’s conversion ensured Leinster had a shaky final 14 minutes or so to end the game.

Leinster scorers:

Tries: J Murphy, D Kearney

Conversion: J Gopperth

Penalty: J Gopperth

Edinburgh scorers:

Try: T Visser

Conversion: G Laidlaw

Penalties: G Laidlaw [2]

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney (Brendan Macken); Fergus McFadden. Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy (Ian Madigan), Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss (Luke McGrath); Jack McGrath (Cian Healy), Richardt Strauss (Sean Cronin), Mike Ross (Marty Moore), Leo Cullen (capt.) (Rhys Ruddock), Mike McCarthy; Sean O’Brien (Dominic Ryan), Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip.

EDINBURGH: Carl Bezuidenhout (Piers Francis); Sam Beard (Grayson Hart), Matt Scott (Ben Atiga), Andries Strauss, Tim Visser; Harry Leonard, Greig Laidlaw (capt.); Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (James Hilterbrand), Willem Nel (Simon Berghin); Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis (Alex Toolis); Mike Coman, Tomas Leonardi, David Denton (Dimitri Basilaia).

Replacement not used: Wicus Blaauw.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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