It had been a pretty fine week for Scottish sport, after a famous victory in Belgrade for the football team and a professional victory in Florence for the rugby side, Leinster decided to piss all over the campfire with a thumping victory over a slack Edinburgh.
Some out of character exuberance from Leinster put themselves under pressure from the kick-off, but predictably, they managed to pinch the ball back inside their 22 and clear their lines.
As feared, the home-side started to make inroads, but on two occasions within the opening 5mins, the usually ruthless Pro14(?) champs conceded penalties at the breakdown when in scoring range.
That profligacy wasn’t to last for long though, and it was an incredible bit of counter-attacking which put the County Dubliners in the lead.
After booting one out on the full, Henry Pyrgos seemed to have a grasp of the swirling wind, and his accurate box-kick forced Leinster into touch inside the Leinster 22.
The Edinburgh line-out – as so often did with Glasgow when facing the same opposition a fortnight ago – went wayward, and the counter-attack was superb.
Leinster quickly made inroads into the Edinburgh half, and although Jack Blain seemed to have dealt adequately enough with the kick through, Leinster turned the ball over at the breakdown. Jimmy O’Brien put a perfectly weighted grubber in behind for Dave Kearney to touch down just a few, quickly rucked, phases later.
The second Leinster try was also an impressive feat of clinical rugby.
Chris Dean put in a decent tackle in midfield, but then Leinster just cleared out each breakdown with trademark ferocity until they created a massive gap on the left.
Kearney turned assist maker on this occasion to feed Luke McGrath on the inside support line, who could trot over at the pace of a “tranquilised water buffalo”. (© Jamie Lyall Patter Industries.)
Nathan Chamberlain got Edinburgh off the mark with a penalty goal, but that just seemed to annoy Leinster as much as a Davie Narey toe-poke.
They easily made their way into Edinburgh territory again and forced Edinburgh into conceding the penalty. 5m out, Leinster tapped and went, Pierre Schoeman did exceptionally well to hold Dan Leavy over the line first time up, but Leinster already had penalty advantage, so they tapped again. Peter Dooley could not be stopped this time.
Leinster’s bonus-point try came from another Edinburgh handling error and deadly sniping from McGrath with the clock approaching the 40min mark.
They could have easily held possession for the few seconds until the half-time whistle went, but they smelt blood. Edinburgh were just the latest bucket of chum.
Half-time: Leinster 26 – 3 Edinburgh
It only got worse for Edinburgh.
Leinster crossed the whitewash again within 2mins of the restart.
An Edinburgh error, a rapid counter-attack given a turbo-boost by McGrath nearly saw Cian Kelleher get over in the right corner. He was stopped short of the line but Dan Leavy was soon to get over from close-range.
Eroni Sau then got sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, and with the man advantage out wide, Harry Byrne executed a perfect cross-kick for wing Kelleher to get his first try of the night.
Kelleher’s second came from another easy run-in with Sau still in the bin to make it 45-3. There was still 25mins to go.
Nic Groom’s tap and go finish from 5m reduced the deficit with a little over 10mins to go, but there wasn’t a gulf in class between these sides, it was a Grand Canyon.
Groom then decided to follow up that good piece of work by booting the ball out on the full, handing Leinster a prime attacking platform with a line-out on the Embra 22.
Edinburgh stopped them for a while, but there was an air of inevitability about it all. Leinster scored a fantastic try, dishing the ball quickly into spaces that Edinburgh couldn’t cover, and Kelleher got his hat-trick.
After successive comfortable victories by Leinster’s second-string over both Scottish pro side’s representatives, it feels like it’s going to be a long season.
The only thing that seems capable of stopping Leinster is the cancellation, or alteration, of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
SRBlog Player of the Match: when certain big players looked like they were about to step up, eg Pyrgos and Bradbury, they then made errors and halted momentum, so for 80-min consistency at his expected duties, Ally Miller.
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)