Edinburgh drew first blood at the RDS after a strong carry by Cornell du Preez set a platform for the visitors that the hosts were inhospitably unable to avoid meddling in. Jason Tovey took an easy kick.
Both sides were carrying adventurously and although Madigan came back with 2 penalties for Leinster, Edinburgh had the better of the territory in the opening quarter of an hour. Once again it was deficiencies in attack that resulted in fumbled passes and no scores in the red zone. Hidalgo-Clyne’s service was poor overall and too many passes landed at the feet of Jason Tovey.
John Hardie was back in the team too but it was a bit of a shocker; for every nice offload there was a high tackle, a late tackle or a troubling altercation with Ben Teo’o where the centre seemed to be alleging contact with his eye area.
Tom Brown was lively at 11 and Phil Burleigh looked more at home in the 12 shirt until he picked up a knock, but the defence was Edinburgh’s chief saviour in the opening half.
Even when Jamie Ritchie was sin-binned for a borderline side-entry at a ruck, the men in black and red held pretty firm. Leinster battered the line with big ball-carriers, rolling mauls and training-ground set moves and some heroic scrambling kept the men in blue out until Madigan arced a lovely pass into touch to end the half.
HT Leinster 6-3 Edinburgh
The second half was much more interesting.
Mike Allen and Sean Kennedy came on, but Hidalgo-Clyne had not been hooked; rather repurposed on the wing for Tom Brown who had moved into the centre. Chris Dean never recovered from an accidental head to the crotch in the first half, but at least his replacement was a centre.
The mix and match backline didn’t take long to show its fragility as Luke Fitzgerald split them open before lobbing a basketball pass over his head for scrum half Luke McGrath to score under the posts.
Edinburgh came right back with a big carry from captain Ross Ford and they battered manfully away at Leinster. When Kennedy had a poor game a few weeks ago and Hidalgo-Clyne improved things massively at half time, the replacement returned the favour this week with his competitor on the park – passes going to hand giving Tovey space to find Tom Brown out wide on the left wing. Tovey then added the cherry with a touchline conversion to make it 13-8.
However he undid all that good work moments later when with all the momentum he missed a kick to touch. From there Leinster broke out and combined with some awful defending, Josh O’Van Der Flier was too powerful for Allan and Kinghorn to stop crossing the line.
Suddenly it was 20-8, the crowd had their backs up and the penalties were all going one way. If nothing else, it shows how quickly a game of rugby can turn.
When Leinster’s maul came calling again, Edinburgh were still up to the task but it drew in a sufficient amount of defenders to create easy space for Fergus McFadden in the corner and Leinster were hunting the bonus point.
Edinburgh, on the other hand were still unable to control the ball after line breaks and forced the game too much, Hidalgo-Clyne stuck out on the wing and a centre pair of Allan and Tom Brown.
Allan was sharp enough to latch on to a Madigan offload as the hosts played too much in their own 22, to claw the deficit back to 25-15 on the hour mark, but Edinburgh gifted the ball back to Leinster and once again the pack hit it up the left, and McFadden scored on the right.
Stuart McInally and Rory Sutherland added some impetus and when he came on Magnus Bradbury made a valuable impact with some big carries, but Kennedy topped off a fine cameo performance with a jink through a very minor gap that gave Edinburgh hope after Hamish Watson carried it close.
It was heartening to see an Edinburgh team refusing to lie down but cool heads are the first thing you learn before you learn how to win and too many scores were followed quickly by pressure in their own half.
Damien Hoyland almost burst through for a try and looked like he had the gas until he ran into a high McFadden shoulder that was as horrific as the decision to award just a penalty from it. If he’d tackled properly, an offload would have been on, so there is a slight argument for a penalty try. As it was, Hoyland gamely got a pass away before collapsing to the turf.
Sad to say but once again, shafted by the officials.
With the measly penalty kicked and the score 30-23, Edinburgh carried tirelessly to try and salvage a draw and double bonus point but in the end Leinster’s defence over the ball was just a little too good and when the ball popped back the wrong way, Leinster booted it as far out of the RDS as they could.
Edinburgh made it to 6th in the table for the night at least, and aren’t out of the hunt for Champions Cup rugby just yet.
SRBlog Man of the Match: tricky as no one player stood out for the full 80. Toolis and Dickinson were good first half, Tovey was mixed as was Hardie. For me the bench made this game and Sean Kennedy deserves it purely for rescuing Edinburgh’s effort and making it a contest in the second half although Mike Allan was similarly influential.