Gavin Harper watches Edinburgh take on an in form Leinster side and show some real backbone to emerge victorious.
If you’re a little depressed by the fact that discussion of the World Cup Final – which should really be the pinnacle of our game – has degenerated into tit for tat claims about foul play and the IRB stepping in to fine one group of men for holding hands while watching another group of men dancing, then I offer you the ultimate antidote to depression. Um, Scottish professional rugby.
I’ll keep this brief as the idea of reliving Saturday’s Edinburgh v Leinster match is putting me off my lunch!
Glorious day, sun splitting the sky, a good Autumn wind and, with Mrs Al off visiting relatives, a free pass to go and do with the day whatever I desire. For once Edinburgh are playing at home at a time that actually encourages attendance, not only that but a 1.30pm ko ensured that I was out and in the pub in time for the second half of the Scotland v Norway snorefest. So off to fortress Murrayfield I went and to be honest the signs were good! For once the ticket arrangements were well organised with separate booth for those of us paying cash so no wait in a long queue. Into the stadium in time for a pint from the well manned (it’s true!!) booze cabins and an almost tasty burger from the stall – really, trips to Murrayfield rarely go this well. It’s a case of sit where you like with the ticket I have and I get a seat right under the media boxes and a cracking view for the game ahead, find myself surrounded by Leinster fans but they are in good form. For the first 15-20 minutes this general vibe of positivity was sustained by a good start from Edinburgh…
Those first 15 minutes or so saw Edinburgh press Leinster back and put real pressure onto the lineout. The Leinster lineout was an abomination at times, with lineout after lineout being stolen at the rear by Edinburgh. You just knew that Edinburgh needed to make the most of the pressure, but all they got was 3 points from a Godman kick. Sure enough, no sooner had Edinburgh scored than the wheels came off the Edinburgh wagon in spectacular fashion…
TACKLE: “Most forms of football have a move known as a tackle. In most cases this move is one that prevents an opposing player from carrying out what they intend.
The word is used in some contact sports to describe the act of physically holding or wrestling a player to the ground. In other sports, it simply describes one or more methods of contesting for possession of the ball.”
If you happen to be a member of the Edinburgh squad please take note of the above definition (thanks Wikipedia). For about 15 minutes Edinburgh’s defence was pathetic. A total inability to tackle or even put in something resembling a tackle cost Edinburgh the game. Coupling this with a very high line and one missed tackle meant that Leinster were able to break free and score from long range run-ins. Time after time this happened. Granted, Leinster benefitted from one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen on a rugby pitch – the forward pass so far forward the Leinster player was sprinting to Livingston to actually catch it. Now, the referee was miles away from play so, possibly, can be forgiven, but his line judge was bang in line with it and how he missed it only he will know! Two moves later Leinster break again, second try and effectively game over. Gutting as it may have been Edinburgh had no one to blame but themselves.
The second half at least saw some fight from Edinburgh and I’m pretty sure I even saw them put a tackle in. A wee bit more cutting edge and Edinburgh might have had a chance of recovering, but like the national side, they just seem to lack ideas in the opposition 22. Fair play to Leinster, they took their chances well but this was a victory they didn’t have to work for.
A couple of final points. Firstly a word on the Leinster fans, certainly the ones around me, who were great craic and supported their team well – Edinburgh fans could learn from them (i.e. stop sitting on your hands and bein quiet!). Secondly, praise must be given to Edinburgh for the buy one adult get 4 kids free offer. Seemed to me a fair number of kids in attendance and hopefully they’ll want to come back; get them young, get them playing and get them passionate for the game. It’s the only way we, as a nation, will get better at this wonderful sport.
Over and out. Al.
Edinburgh 15 – 13 Leinster
Leinster turned up in Edinburgh needing “only” 4 tries and the victory to clinch the title. Despite Edinburgh’s best efforts to throw it away in the dying minutes, the home lads clung on against heavy pressure from the Leinster forwards to grab the points and move up to fourth in the Magners League (for now) – with a little help from the goal post that denied Contepomi in the final minute. Despite pack dominance, Leinster never seemed like scoring as often as they needed to, with the back division a little bit clueless at times, even with Contepomi and O’ Driscoll a world class centre pairing. De Luca and Callam both had good games, and Godman sounded a wee bit hit and miss. Hugo missed a drop-goal. Telling that Leinster didn’t cross until the 75th minute – the championship will have to wait.
Glasgow 25 – 23 Llanelli
A decent sized crowd at Murrayfield from the sound of it too, although not as enthusiastic as the support at Glasgow, who also came out the end of their rollercoaster match against Llanelli two points ahead. Once again Parks made it difficult for his critics with a try scoring and kicking display. Colin Gregor seemed to pop up at scrum-half and full-back, scoring a try in the process. Afterwards, coach Lineen criticised his teams decision making, that “butchered” a number of potential tries, but it seems they couldn’t be faulted for effort at the end to hold on to the win. They may regret allowing Llanelli the bonus point though.