A last-minute try from Scotland centre Mark Bennett secured a valuable Pro14 win for Edinburgh over Leinster at Myreside.
Bennett scored after Glenn Bryce’s tap-down on a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne kick to give Richard Cockerill’s side victory, sealed with Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion.
They were slow out the blocks, though, with the Irishmen opening the scoring inside five minutes through number eight Max Deegan, who powered over from close range. Ross Byrne converted to give Leo Cullen’s side a 7-0 lead.
In a scrappy opening 40 minutes, Jaco Van Der Walt was wayward with a penalty before the hosts got back into the match, scoring from a loose Leinster pass.
Luke Crosbie, outstanding in a youthful Edinburgh pack, picked up a sloppy pass and sprinted 60 metres to touch down under the posts. Van Der Walt tied the game with the conversion.
And the game swung on its head when, just moments later, Nathan Fowles scampered down the blindside to dive over – the Scotland squad man showing good pace to touch down. The conversion was wide, and that proved costly when Leinster hit back with a two-try flurry of their own.
First, Australian Scott Fardy crossed in the corner before wing Barry Daly outmuscled Darcy Graham to score.
Edinburgh were seven points (12-19) down when they were awarded a penalty with the clock having passed 40 minutes, but skipper Fraser McKenzie turned down the shot at goal and went to the corner.
Man of the match Lewis Carmichael went close, as did the impressive ‘Bill’ Mata, before recent Scotland cap Murray McCallum barged over – what a week it’s been for the Strathallan man!
Mark Bennett took over the kicking duties but fared no better, pushing his attempt wide, Edinburgh turning round two points down at the break.
While the opening 40 was an open affair, both sides tightened up after the break and it took until the hour for Duhan Van Der Merwe to capitalise on a lovely chip from Hidalgo-Clyne to touch down.
The Myreside faithful, all 3,000-odd of them, must have sensed an upset was on the cards – and Edinburgh had the impact of their bench to thank – the returning John Hardie, Hidalgo-Clyne and Magnus Bradbury all gave the hosts’ a lift when they came on.
Leinster are no slouches, though, and hit back when Daly once more overpowered Graham to go over in the corner to give Leinster the lead (22-24).
And just as Edinburgh appeared to be beaten, their new-found resolve under Cockerill was evident as the pack carried deep into the visitors’ half.
They won a penalty, but on a night of missed opportunities from the tee, the kick was a gamble. So Hidalgo-Clyne rolled the dice, chipped the Leinster defence, Glenn Bryce tapped it downwards and Bennett scampered under the sticks.
A brief discussion with the TMO followed, but the score was good and Hidalgo-Clyne converted to seal victory.
Edinburgh have long talked about chasing down Ulster for third spot, and wins like this evening’s will give them every chance of doing just that. A game they would have lost a season ago, Cockerill has instilled confidence in his charges and they produced an impressive display to down the albeit depleted three-time European champions.
SRBlog Man of the Match: While Lewis Carmichael and Luke Crosbie were impressive among a young band of forwards, and both South Africans – Van Der Walt and Van Der Merwe – caught the eye behind the pack, Edinburgh’s outstanding man on the night was Fijian Viliame Mata. As well as ridiculously good offloads, big ‘Bill’ proved he can do the hard yards and gave his side a valuable platform.