On Friday night at Murrayfield the capital side swapped the lead with Leinster seven times. In a free and easy game where tackling was not at a premium it was the hand-over that was evident. You attack; then we’ll attack. You get a head start; then we will cover, and recover. They lost by 8 points, 28-36.
In the game 19-year-old fly-half Harry Leonard flitted in and out, showing tidy touches one minute before manfully accepting his fate at the line when his options were too flat. He buzzed and was often capable of looking assured. Outside him, though, there were signs of quality that had Edinburgh fans hoping they could pull off a victory.
As forwards Denton, Ford and Turnbull pounded into contact the Edinburgh backline looked like risking a split. The other young pretender, Matt Scott, whom Michael Bradley has persisted with all season, looked confident, capable and dangerous whenever he was given the ball. For a young man raised to play 10 he looks a natural centre. He picked his run well as he latched on to a grubber from Leonard for his try, and the young options at Edinburgh’s disposal must have Phil Godman worrying for his berth.
With Tim Visser even further out, Edinburgh have the most accomplished finisher in this country.
The Dutchman looked like skirting round, or pumping through, a tackle every time he took a pass. Several times one of the Kearney brothers was left to look lacking as the high-stepping winger accelerated into his target area. In fact if it wasn’t for a looping pass and a hitch in his step, Visser would have had a hat trick. In the end he finished with two tries.
The scrum had Bradley happy, and the lineout was OK. That, however, is where the opportunities to win the game lay. Edinburgh, for all of their enterprise and guile, couldn’t get across the line for shooting themselves in the foot.
Their poor breakdown discipline allowed Jonny Sexton constant chances to kick for 3points and the less said about their nearside ruck defence the better. At least when you are talking to a Chris Paterson exhausted from covering. The normally impeccable Laidlaw struggled with the boot, too, missing an easy conversion slightly to the left of the sticks and seeming to lose his range with a few box kicks. Simon Webster looks a shadow of his former self.
Edinburgh deserved to at least secure a losing bonus, but their inconsistency is their undoing. They have promise and some talented players but they never looked secured, and they may not if they do not secure an away win soon.
In fact the changing of possession and the changing of a lead look fitting. The way things are going it will serve as an indicator of a season of change should they not win their 1872 Cup games.
On Wednesday, in Falkirk, there will be the fixture launch of the 1872 Cup double-header derby matches between Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors. We will find out when the two games will be, and which stadium is the first host. We will probably get a glimpse of some horrific kit soon enough, too.
We cannot underestimate the importance of these two games. At this point we cannot even underestimate the pressure on the Edinburgh team. As it stands they are slipping behind their West coast rivals and they are in danger of losing sight of them.
Glaswegians are renowned in rugby circles for having a chip on their shoulder. Warrior fans in particular because of an assumption that they are, according to those that have opinions, Scotland’s second franchise. It is with glee that they inform you that they have now won four of their last five games and are confident. Edinburgh have only won two of their last five games and aren’t getting the bounce of the ball…
It is too early to say which team will ultimately come out on top. There are a few games before they meet. Glasgow have basement side Aironi (away) next and then another crack at Ulster at Firhill. They could well be on a roll by then, buoyed by their freshly inspired Internationals and their youngsters used to winning.
Edinburgh are also away in Italy. A place they lost earlier in the season, when Aironi registered their first victory in the competition. They could win this time round if they play with the same ambition and verve, whilst tightening up the defence and showing a bit more discipline. It would certainly be a confidence boost to get that vital away win against a high-flying Treviso side surprising many with their Pro12 form.
Rory gives his views with a match report of Edinburgh 28-36 Leinster.