herald

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Blues are off colour

Edinburgh 28 Leinster 11

Leinster’s Jimmy O’Brien makes a break during last night’s PRO14 clash against Edinburgh
Leinster’s Jimmy O’Brien makes a break during last night’s PRO14 clash against Edinburgh

Leinster have moved into the rare position in which they are really battling with themselves to produce performances in the PRO14 League.

They came into this as many as 22 points clear of their nearest rivals in Conference B, the home semi-final all but guaranteed.

In contrast, Edinburgh were on the hunt for momentum to take into the Champions Cup quarter-final against Munster, at the same venue.

The game day withdrawal of out-half Ross Byrne prompted the promotion of Ciaran Frawley to ten and Jimmy O'Brien to full-back in what was already a severely depleted side.

This certainly isn't one Leinster will look back on with any fondness, despite a surprisingly dominant opening stanza.

A simply majestic build up between Fergus McFadden, Luke McGrath and Noel Reid concluded with Scott Fardy being held up over the line by WP Nel.

They settled for the three points Frawley took after a penalty from the subsequent scrum.

Immediately, Joe Tomane was whistled for playing Henry Pyrgos at a ruck, Jaco van der Walt hitting the right upright for Leinster to escape.

Then, Edinburgh compounded an indifferent start when lock Fraser McKenzie was reckless enough to warrant a yellow card for lifting and dropping Reid on his shoulder.

From there, Frawley kicked for length, the scrum crunched another penalty, the lineout was mauled for Seán Cronin to crawl over in the 17th minute.

It wasn't long before Leinster began to lose their grip, fading as Edinburgh grew in strength.

When Bill Mata burst through Cronin, McGrath was on hand to take down the big man.

Still, the home side kept it tight and worked the phases for Nel to twist to the line, Van de Walt converting for a one-point game.

A surging counter from Jimmy O'Brien and Max Deegan's textbook poach on Mata allowed Frawley to notch another penalty. The Blues couldn't hold on as the scrum disintegrated for a penalty try and a 14-11 deficit at the break.

Referee Ben Whitehouse binned the impressive Dan Leavy ahead of Ross Ford hammering home from a maul, van de Walt adding two more.

Edinburgh had the bonus-point in their sights and Leinster's rank bad indiscipline allowed them the entry to find their fourth from Mata's drive after 30 phases.

Leinster regathered the troops with replacement Conor O'Brien showing up well on the ball.

They rolled forward, going close more than once, finally through Jack McGrath without any further reward to suffer their third League defeat of the season.

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