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Leinster remain top of the Pro12 with bonus-point win over Edinburgh

Leo Cullen’s men scored four tries in the second half at the RDS.

Leinster 30

Edinburgh 23

Murray Kinsella reports from the RDS

LEINSTER STRENGTHENED their position at the top of the Guinness Pro12 table with a bonus-point 30-23 victory against Edinburgh.

Even a bonus-point win for second-placed Connacht against Munster tomorrow in Galway would not knock Leo Cullen’s men off their perch, while this win over the Scots helps out Munster in their bid to secure Champions Cup rugby for next season.

A losing bonus point or win for Munster tomorrow would move them back above Edinburgh, who occupy sixth position overnight.

Ben Te'o with Phil Burleigh Ben Te'o was excellent in midfield for Leinster. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

After a dour first half at a chilly RDS, the game burst into life in the second 40 minutes, with Cullen’s men crossing for four tries as their attack finally clicked into gear.

Leinster were incredibly profligate with their extensive possession inside the Edinburgh 22 before the break, but discovered a clinical edge to ensure that their 6-3 half-time lead was transformed into an altogether different final scoreline.

Fergus McFadden scored two tries in the right corner, while Josh van der Flier strode in for one from a Noel Reid offload. The pick of the bunch was scrum-half Luke McGrath’s, as he benefited from the excellent work of Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald to score.

Alan Solomons’ Edinburgh refused to lie down at any stage and ensured Leinster could never relax. Indeed, defence coach Kurt McQuilkin will have been frustrated to see Leinster give up three tries, particularly given how soft they were.

Two Madigan penalties, with one in response from Edinburgh out-half Jason Tovey, was the extent of the scoring in a poor first half that was pockmarked by Leinster errors in the visitors’ 22.

Clearly, Leinster were disappointed with their own showing and they came back out of the dressing room in a far more energetic fashion.

McGrath’s excellent try in the 44th minute sparked their resurgence. Madigan cleverly slipped an inside pass to Fitzgerald 40 metres from the Edinburgh tryline, allowing the left wing to stride forward and find the trailing McGrath with an intelligent lofted inside pass of his own.

Josh van der Flier with Jason Tovey Josh van der Flier was man of the match for Leinster. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Edinburgh conjured an instant replay as Tovey took advantage of McFadden’s poor defensive positioning to float a wide pass to wing Tom Brown, who was free to sprint into the left corner and score.

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With the game finally alive, van der Flier was the next try scorer. Reid picked off a looping Edinburgh pass on the halfway line and then offloaded to his openside flanker, who showed good pace to finish.

McFadden’s first score, assisted by long passes from Reid and Fitzgerald looked to put Leinster into a comfortable position at 25-8, but again Edinburgh had a response as former Ulster wing Michael Allen intercepted Madigan’s inside pass to score under the posts, Tovey’s conversion making it 25-15.

With 15 minutes left, McFadden powered over for his second, as he accepted the returning Rob Kearney’s pass to score in the right corner again.

At 30-15 that should have been the end of it as a contest, but the Scots grabbed themselves a losing bonus point. Replacement Sean Kennedy smashed over for a try from close range as Leinster lost focus, then Sam Hidalgo-Clyne fired over a 79th-minute penalty to bring them to within seven points.

Solomons’ men finished on the attack, but Leinster were able to steer themselves to their 15th win of the Pro12 season.

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Luke McGrath, Josh van der Flier, Fergus McFadden [2]

Conversions: Ian Madigan [2 from 4]

Penalties: Ian Madigan [2 from 2]

Edinburgh scorers:

Tries: Tom Brown, Michael Allen, Sean Kennedy

Conversions: Jason Tovey [1 from 3]

Penalties: Jason Tovey [1 from 1], Sam Hidalgo-Clyne [1 from 1]

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Luke Fitzgerald (Dave Kearney ’76); Ian Madigan (Cathal Marsh ’66), Luke McGrath (Eoin Reddan ’66); Cian Healy (Peter Dooley ’53, reversal ’76), Richardt Strauss (Sean Cronin ’53), Mike Ross (Tadhg Furlong ’53); Ross Molony (Devin Toner ’66), Mick Kearney; Rhys Ruddock (captain) (Dominic Ryan ’52), Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy.

EDINBURGH: Blair Kinghorn (Magnus Bradbury ’72); Damien Hoyland, Chris Dean (Sean Kennedy ‘HT), Phil Burleigh (Michael Allen ‘HT), Tom Brown; Jason Tovey, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Alasdair Dickinson (Rory Sutherland ’66), Ross Ford (captain) (Stuart McInally ’55), WP Nel (John Andress ’66); Anton Bresler, Ben Toolis; Jamie Ritchie (YC – ’34 to ’44), John Hardie (Hamish Watson ’59), Cornell Du Preez.

Replacements not used: Alex Toolis.

Referee: Marius Mitrea [FIR].

Attendance: 10,233.

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Murray Kinsella

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