There’s not much that’s fun to say (or read) about this game, unless you are a Leinster fan or a particularly bitter Glaswegian/Toulousain, so I’ll keep it brief.
Following the heights of the Heineken Cup last weekend, Edinburgh came crashing down to earth with nary a whimper as Leinster ran in a storm of tries at the RDS in Dublin.
Last season, Leinster were Heineken Cup and Magners League finalists, winning the former. The league name has changed to the RaboDirect PRO12, but on this form – even such as displayed by players tonight who make few appearances when the top team is given a rare outing – you could easily stick some money on them to make two finals once again.
Edinburgh’s woeful league form continues.
This 8 try smashing of started off innocuously enough, with both sides trading early tries. Edinburgh’s was well-worked, using the forwards to batter close to the line then sending De Luca over when space out wide materialised.
Clinical, sensible and patient.
Sadly the try was a required response to a soft score from Leinster who had chased up a penalty miss off the posts. When Lee Jones failed to collect the ball, Shane Jennings did it for him. For most of the first half it would be charitable to say that McFadden was lucky to hit the post with that one as the majority of his kicks went awry. That would probably be one of the few bright spots for the visitors.
Laidlaw was kicking well from the tee and hand, but after their try, Leinster snaffled all Edinburgh’s ball, content to run riot from their own half if need be. So he didn’t get too many chances.
At half time with the score 18-7, Edinburgh were in theory still in it.
Leinster decided to put that particular hope to bed very early on, with another early try from Fionn Carr securing the bonus point. As they had in the first half, Edinburgh tried to strike back and a period of sustained possession and some determined work from Stuart McInally saw them down in the Leinster 22.
Even with their backup team on, Leinster are packed with threats in the back division and not afraid to attack. So it was that even the usually confident Edinburgh attacks bore the hidden threat of a Leinster breakout, and on at least two occasions they made good on that threat, going the length of the RDS pitch. By the time Devin Toner got them over the half-century from a seated position to the side of the line, the game was out of site and Edinburgh longing for something easy, like playing Toulouse.
Laidlaw gamely played the possession, but by then the score was long gone and not even a Racing Metro style comeback inspired by the bench would have helped.
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley will take little from this that he does not already know: that the backup front row are not up to scratch in the set piece, that Edinburgh need to concentrate fully to avoid leaking soft tries; that they prefer attacking ball in hand to defending.
Of course, so do Leinster – but sadly on this evidence they are rather better at both.
Leinster (18) 54
Tries: Jennings, McFadden, Cronin, Carr, Nacewa, Auva’a, Macken, Toner
Cons: Nacewa 2, Madigan 2
Pens: McFadden, Nacewa
Edinburgh (7) 13
Tries: De Luca
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland)