Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 4: Leinster 33-7 Edinburgh

Leinster v Edinburgh
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on Friday afternoon when, firstly, a much-changed Edinburgh team was announced and then, secondly, a Leinster side stocked to the brim with first-choice Irish internationalists dropped into our laps and laptops like a breezeblock wrapped in a tricolour.

It did look like a daunting prospect, especially as the Edinburgh picks gave the impression that Cockers had one eye instead on their upcoming two home games.  The Edinburgh starting XV included 8 full Scottish Internationalists but with nine changes from their win against Connacht last week this was very much a second choice side.

The early stages of the game were all about defence. Leinster racked up 29 consecutive phases leading up to the 11th minute when Edinburgh gave away a penalty, but the Dublin side couldn’t capitalise from the resultant lineout with Sean Kennedy eventually clearing.

In the following minutes Dougie Fife made a hash of a kick after a mark, and from the scrum and Leinster lineout that followed Edinburgh looked like they had won a turnover near the halfway line.  From the following ruck Kennedy’s box kick was charged down by Devon Toner who chased it down to within a few cm of the Edinburgh try line. Quick ball from the ruck saw Fergus McFadden cross for the opening try. The 2 points were kicked by Johnny Sexton: 7-0.

Edinburgh then had some sustained pressure deep within the Leinster 22 and racked up 35 phases within the forwards before Leinster were caught offside. Edinburgh declined the easy 3 points from the penalty and kicked to the corner. From the lineout, Jamie Ritchie coughed up the ball allowing Leinster to clear.

Just before half-time a lineout on Edinburgh’s 22 metre line that had initially been awarded to them was reversed after the intervention of the TMO. Leinster won it comfortably and after some good interchanges involving Sexton and Jordan Larmour the ball found its way to James Lowe (across from the left wing) who scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.

Edinburgh had 60% Possession and 61% territory in this half but the difference was that when Leinster got a chance you believed they might score. Edinburgh were robust, but lacked the cutting edge that Leinster had in spades.

Half-time: Leinster 12-0 Edinburgh

After the break it was Leinster that started on the front foot but it was Edinburgh that got the first score. Duhan Van Der Merwe, using the strength we’ve become accustomed to, broke through a few tackles around the halfway line before popping it left to Chris Dean. He made good ground but was stopped just short of the Leinster line by a great tackle from Larmour. Edinburgh retained possession and moved the ball quickly through a couple of phases before Bradbury forced his way over with an outstretched hand to open the Edinburgh account. Jaco Van Der Walt added the extra 2.

Almost straight from the restart it looked like Leinster had scored through Larmour but the TMO ruled that the last pass to Lowe from Van Der Flier was forward.

Edinburgh’s relief was short-lived.

At the set piece their scrum disintegrated giving Leinster a penalty and from the following lineout some simple passing, and some uncharacteristically poor defence in the Edinburgh midfield saw Larmour score under the posts. Sexton added the two points and Leinster were stretching their lead.

The capitulation at that scrum was clearly enough for Cockerill who immediately replaced Dell and Berghan with Pierre Schoeman and Murray McCallum.

Leinster removed any residual doubt about the result in the 65th minute. Under pressure, Edinburgh gave away 3 penalties followed by a scrum on their own 5 metre line. The scrum broke up once with Tadgh Beirne gesticulating, wrongly in my opinion, that it had been Schoeman that had caused it. From the reset Leinster moved the ball up the short side and Sexton scored in the corner. He converted his own try to make it Leinster 26, Edinburgh 7.

Settled result or not, Edinburgh continued to try and attack and looked to have secured a penalty close to the Leinster try line but the TMO became involved again having seen some Edinburgh foul play. The review showed that whilst in possession Schoeman had led with the elbow and made contact with the head of Dan Leavy. The referee adjudged that the force used was excessive and sent the Edinburgh loosehead off permanently.

Edinburgh might have left the RDS with a consolation score in the dying minutes after making good progress within the Leinster 22 but a dropped ball led to a turnover and Leinster advantage. They duly used that advantage to go the length of the field to score their fifth try through Garry Ringrose. The conversion was missed but that was scant consolation for the visitors.

There can be no doubt that this was a fair result.  Edinburgh huffed and puffed and had plenty of possession but didn’t appear to have the key to unlock Leinster never mind know how to use it. Leinster’s galacticos had no such issues.

There will be some who will question the Edinburgh team selection, but can anyone who falls into that category honestly say they would have won with a top line selection? Even losing Schoeman to a red card and potentially Jaco Van Der Walt to return to play protocols may now prove costly in upcoming games Edinburgh must win.

Of course this selection and result is only justifiable if Edinburgh get those wins in the next two weeks. If not, you can imagine that some pressure may come to bear on Richard Cockerill’s decisions.

There should be no complaints about referee Dan Jones overall officiating or about Schoeman’s sending off specifically. It could be considered harsh as Leavy was leaning in and Schoeman’s arm wasn’t actually high but the combination of those two things meant there was contact with Leavy’s head. By the letter of the law that is a red card and for the protection of players from brain injury it has to be. There is a wider argument to be had about who should have responsibility for player safety in such circumstances, but that is for another day.

Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: a hard one when you lose and really deserved nothing from the game but in a game where Edinburgh’s starting forwards made an average of 14 tackles, Luke Hamilton made 18, conceded no penalties and made 20 runs so he gets the nod.

34 Responses

  1. A fair report on the game. I for one was quite encouraged by the backbone provided by many second choice player, but Leinster’s quality from 1-23 is undeniable and I doubt there will be many, if any, teams leaving the RDS with even losing/try bonus points.

    On the Schoeman red card, it is absolutely the correct decision by way of current laws but I do hope to see these laws amended. I am not of the game gone soft brigade and player safety must be foremount, but there was no malice, no swinging arm, no reckless action and no intent to injure. Such cases I think a yellow would be more appropriate.

    1. I don’t think it was even a penalty, and wouldn’t have even been looked at had the contact been anywhere else. Reminded me of the game Canada should have won in 2014 against us. Still, it didn’t lose Edinburgh the game, although it probably will negatively affect the next few, sadly.

      1. When you say contact elsewhere, do you mean on the pitch (as in on the halfway line) or on the player?

      2. You are correct that there is an argument that there should be no sanction (maybe a penalty). Especially in this case as it is obvious that Schoeman was bracing himself against the impact of the defender.

        In this situation the players were ‘unlucky’ (by current law) on where the first point of contact was despite neither acting recklessly. Compare that to the highly reckless tip tackle in the Glasgow game (against DTH I think) which resulted in a yellow. There was little regard for the opponent’s safety there and the tackler was ‘lucky’ because first point of contact was the shoulder and despite a significant clattering of head to ground.

      3. I mean in the elbow had connected elsewhere. It wasn’t reckless or malicious. Compare it to the jump that led to Hardie being taken off on the same fixture last year: an opposition player jumped flying knee-first into the back of Hardie’s head. Hardie went off and was out for weeks (I think) and the leaping player went without so much as a penalty. That’s far more reckless and excessive – especially as I think the player failed to catch the ball – but was unpunished. It’s stupid.

  2. Disappointing to be bottom after 4 games but could quite easily have been sitting in 3rd or better. The one result that still frustrates is the Ulster one, as that game should have been dead and buried twice and yet we let them back into it. They have now beaten us in the last minute, beaten the scarlets in the dying moments and drew with cheetahs at the death as well so everything has gone their way so far, and it hasn’t for us. They won’t have Lady Luck on their side all year so just have to make sure they don’t build too much of a lead on us at this stage. Having watched the scarlets so far, I think there’s a fair chance we will be fighting with them and Benetton for third spot this year, Which makes this fridays game massive.

    1. You’re quite right – Ulster seem to have ridden their luck but sometimes you get into the winning habit and games you should lose you manage to steal – with a bit of magic or a bit of grit.
      Edinburgh need to get out of the losing habit for the opposite reason, and the next two weeks – home games against “weak” opposition – are pivotal. Cockers will have recognised this before the season started.
      I reckon if we’d managed to win at Ulster (and Ospreys) we’d have seen a full strength side out against Leinster. As it is we can look forward to those who were rested coming back for these key games (Kinghorn, Scott, Pyrgos, McInally, Gilchrist, Watson).

  3. How long before we get the “card for endangering yourself”?

    Often it seems the carded player is a victim of poor technique from their opponents (e.g. dodgy lineout lifts and mistimed jumps under the high ball, failing to get head out of the way in the tackle, slipping or falling into a tackle).

    If these sorts of things are not deemed simply as accidents (which in cases they are not being), then I think first duty of care is to yourself…then teammate…then your opponent.

    Stands to reason (if not sense) that you should be binned for endangering yourself or a teammate, same as you are for endangering an opponent.

    1. I have to say that sometimes when a player throws himself into the air to catch a high ball I feel they are putting themselves into a dangerous position. The word “reckless” doesn’t even cover it. Maybe make it illegal to jump for a high ball?
      If Leavy was tackling around the waist he would have avoided Schoeman’s elbow, surely?

      1. Stop press…we have a rule change! Lifters in open play need to get their men to ground safely. Should be in Scotland’s favour overall I reckon.

      2. When will that change come in ? I recall this very point in the Wales international 2015 when Biggar Launched himseldf leading with the foot and Russell was yellow carded – Biggar was a liability to himself. The welsh and irish have this ploy down to a fine art .

      3. That’s jumping, this is being lifted by a supporting player. Ie if you are being lifted into the air (eg at a restart) then it is on your supporting player to get you safely down again, not on the guy who’s challenging in the air under his own steam (ie Israel Folau).

  4. Does the TMO’s remit include adjudicating on whose throw it is at a lineout? I thought it was about tries and foul play.

    1. Good point. IMO it doesn’t. But the TMO was Simon McDowell – nuff said. My issue was that it certainly did hit an Edinburgh player last, but it clearly went forward from blue onto him. That said, no complaints about the result. Still think Edinburgh should be taking points early doors.

      1. Paris 2005 and his fantasy that Ally Hogg’s foot was in touch before scoring was his crowning glory. Still, as someone who regularly features in the sports section of The Sunday TImes UK Top 100 Rich List because of his family engineering / construction company, it’s only a hobby for him anyway.
        And atrocious decision though it was, at least it helped get rid of Matt Williams !

      2. Indeed Chiel, it did have that silver lining. But Ally was robbed of a famous try and Scotland a victory.

        He’s spent the last 13yrs shafting us.

  5. Positives from edinburgh game

    Very competitive for about 60 minutes with a largely 2nd string side against a reasonably close to 1st XV Leinster.

    Defended against Leinster for over 30 phases early on without them scoring (screwed it up after ofc though)

    Put together a 36 ? phase attack in Leinsters 22, impressive to be able to retain possession for that amount of time. (Screwed it by not using the backs on that massive overlap though) understand the intent behind it though.

    Ford Looked good on his return made some big carries.
    Is the quality of Depth now better at Edinburgh than Glasgow ?

    Fife a solid option at 15 (bar that kick) could get a spot in 23 for autumn internationals with Hoggs out

  6. Would like to see the following team out next week.

    1. Dell
    2. Mcinally
    3. Nel
    4. Carmichael
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Bradbury
    7. Watson
    8. Mata
    9. Kennedy
    10. Hickey
    11. VDM
    12. Scott
    13. Jonstone
    14. Fife
    15. Kinghorn

    16. Ford
    17. Shoeman (or Sutherland if unavailable)
    18. Berghan
    19. Toolis
    20. Ritchie
    21. Prygos
    22. Dean
    23. Brown

    1. Cannot disagree Neil, although I’d prefer Toolis and Pyrgos to start. And unfortunately Hickey may have to wait for a start behind Jaco. Cockers can’t afford to experiment this week.

      1. Depends how bad Jaco’s head knock was. He may be forced to rest this week through the return to play protocol.

        Agree on Pyrgos, but not sure if Toolis is due a rest, can’t remember how many games he’s played this season.

      2. Toolis has played every game so far and Gilchrist has played three. I’d imagine it will be Gilchrist/McKenzie this Friday and possibly McKenzie/Toolis next week.

        VdW is an interesting one. Thought he was unlucky to lose his place at the start of the season as he had a good impact last year off the back of playing in SA without a pre season here. His place kicking seems to have improved this season which was a necessity, but still seems weak kicking from hand for me. Haven’t seen Hickey apart from his few appearances this year but perhaps think it looks as if he can run a game better than VdW can.

  7. Did anyone see the Joe Marler incident at the weekend playing for Quins? For me, it was a pretty similar in a lot way ways to Shoeman’s but he only got 10 mins in the bin. Acknowledge it’s a different league but same laws being applied.

    1. He has never looked back, his new full back seems to be bringing out the best in him and no brain farts !!!!!!!!

      1. Why did we never see him perform like that with Glasgow. Are they coaching him differently or is he just liberated .

  8. 4 week ban for Schoeman seems harsh. Looking (at the admittedly slow-mo) replay on and having not seen the game live to me it looks more like he took the impact with his arm up and then shoved the tackler away. It didn’t look like a deliberate strike and the first contact with Leavy looks like it is more with the wrist/forearm than elbow. And if Leavy had a better tackle technique it wouldn’t have happened at all.

    Gutting that he’ll now miss the first two European games.

  9. Thanks Rory , I sort of knew that but like a right good blurt about this one.

    Ok Merot so your concern and my hate are not covered by the rule change. Thanks for raising our hopes Alanyst, but that is fixing a different problem.

    I hate to see this , it is legal , it is reckless behaviour , it is exploted by the Irish and Welsh, someones rugby career is going to be sullied by the behavious of these buffoons and they will be playing again very soon as if nothing happened.

    I am with you Merlot, but my solution is different. Do allow jumping for the high ball, but penalise the jumper if he does not have a clear landing place. Yes , I know , the definiition of clear will be fuzzy (how ironic is that), but going up and landing in roughly the same spot is acceptable , going up and landing 6 feet away is not accpetable and in the case of Bigger , he should have been in the bin for dangerous play , putting everyone around him at risk of a boot , knee, thigh or any other bony limb in the face of an opponent, not Russell for trying to field the ball.

    1. Yes, not the same problem, but pertinent to dodgy lifts, which I also mentioned. It brings you responsibility to your teammate, who you have helped into a dangerous and fairly helpless position, ahead of the responsibility of the opposition towards them.

      I guess WR are not ready to have “protect yourself” included in the laws. I do remember something a while back at youth level about tackle technique though..

      1. The trouble is currently there is no law against flinging yourself 10 feet like a deranged triple-jumper. We don’t want to penalise competing for the ball but if everyone had their feet on the ground (literally and figuratively) there would be fewer injuries and the same competition for the ball. At the moment it favours the nutter who doesn’t care who he injures, himself or others.
        Next we’ll have yellow cards against a tackled player because the tackler put his head in front and got smacked in the head by the knee!

      2. Didn’t a Samoan player get a five-week ban for “leading with the knee” while running? Rubbish.

        As to Biggar’s nonsense (and what a nonce he was with his appeal to the ref! Wales should have lost that game – Jackson was utterly useless), last year Hardie was hit in the back of the head by a flying knee, failed his HIA and was out for weeks. How is that not dangerous play and a red? Especially when you consider CJS’s red card against SA in 2016. It’s a farce.

    2. Ben F, just re-watched that clip – thanks!
      Biggar was (and is) a twat.
      Now I’m as angry as I was when it happened. Wasn’t even a penalty FFS. About to go into a meeting and I’m fuming. My colleagues will not thank you!

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