Despite leading with 10 minutes to go, Edinburgh saw any hope of getting into a Champions Cup play-off place disappear after ending up with a 36-23 loss to reigning Pro12 champions Leinster. Tries from Tim Visser and Hamish Watson put Edinburgh in a good position but in the end, Leinster’s five tries were enough to comfortably beat the home side.
From the start, although Leinster enjoyed early possession, it was Edinburgh who looked to attack with Tim Visser making 20 metres after a strong driving maul. Soon, Edinburgh were within striking range and with Leinster going offside, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne took an easy three points.
Leinster soon got on the scoreboard after Ian Madigan slotted a simple drop goal and after a TMO review for a suspected punch-up (which came to nothing), Sean O’Brien offered a delicate little switch pass to centre Noel Reid who broke through the Edinburgh line before out-pacing Jack Cuthbert to score the game’s first try. Madigan converted and with Hidalgo-Clyne missing a difficult kick, the score remained at 3-10.
Edinburgh looked to have got in the corner after Dougie Fife crossed, although a foot in touch denied the home side 5 points. However, from the lineout, Edinburgh stole the ball, Hidalgo-Clyne floated it out to Hamish Watson and the flanker then had the strength to break Jamie Heaslip’s tackle to score. Hidalgo-Clyne levelled the score with 28 minutes gone.
But it was Leinster who got back in the action quicker, Dave Kearney making a break similar to Reid’s earlier on, the only difference being that he passed to replacement Jack Conan who went under the sticks.
The final few minutes of the half saw little happen other than Dougie Fife making a charge-down into touch before dropping the ball that was kicked back to him the following play. Leinster then knocked on in their own half and we reached half time.
Half-Time: Edinburgh: 10 17 Leinster
With other results meaning that all Edinburgh would likely need was a draw, they looked to go out attacking early on with Hidalgo-Clyne collecting another three points (Edinburgh now had the wind advantage). But Leinster hit back, Madigan floating a lovely pass out to Zane Kirchner who picked the ball up off his laces for an easy try. The missed conversion meant that Edinburgh were now behind by nine with half an hour remaining.
But with a Champions Cup play-off spot on the line Edinburgh refused to give up as Jack Cuthbert made the most of a poor Madigan clearance to put his side in the right area of the park. Phases were built before Hidalgo-Clyne gave a short pass to the departing Visser who managed to reach out for his own try. Hidalgo-Clyne then made it a two-point game with his tough conversion.
With 15 minutes remaining, Hidalgo-Clyne got his fifth kick of the day to give Edinburgh the lead for the first time and suddenly that Champions Cup play-off spot was looking ever more likely…
That was until Leinster got their hands on the ball and started to move back up the pitch. Some good tackles by Tom Brown and Ben Toolis meant that Leinster were being held out, but as you would expect from a team who has been three times European Champions, they know how to be patient. Heaslip delivered a delicate little pass to flanker Jordi Murphy and the Irish internationalist managed to score. Madigan converted and suddenly Leinster had a six point lead again with seven minutes remaining.
With Edinburgh desperate to get another try on the board they panicked, giving a penalty away and it now looked like Edinburgh’s chances of a play-off spot had disappeared. With Leinster opting to go for touch, the final nail was put in the coffin as Luke McGrath sniped round the edge of the ruck to score. It was game over now for Edinburgh.
Final Score: Edinburgh 23 36 Leinster
SRBlog Man of the Match: For Edinburgh, Hamish Watson probably impressed the most with Tim Visser doing well to score in his final game. However, Leinster were the better side with Ian Madigan having another great game, although I expect he may be forced to move to centre next season with the return of Johnny Sexton…
With thanks to #RugbyEdinburgh