herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Gunners' slight hopes to be dashed by Blues

Leinster v Edinburgh, The RDS, Sunday

(LIVE SETANTA IRELAND, 6.15)

It is reasonable to assume Leinster would have held a shorter than evens odds of beating Toulouse in a Heineken Cup semi-final in Dublin. This is the measure of the importance of home advantage.

Well, Edinburgh are not Toulouse. They are not even Biarritz. What they are is tenacious, committed and willing to put their bodies on the line as they cling to an outside chance of reaching the post-regular season.

However, Edinburgh cannot qualify for the play-offs unless a highly unlikely series of results were to unfold on Sunday evening. It is the next best thing to a lost cause.

For starters, they would have to put four tries past Leinster to grab the bonus point that would give them a chance. No club, not Clermont-Auvergne, not Toulouse, have managed that against a full-strength Leinster this season.

The only exception came in the Magners League when little more than an Academy side was flogged 30-14 by The Dragons at Rodney Parade in December.

In reality, Edinburgh have nothing more than pride to play for on Sunday evening. Interestingly, they have scored more tries than any other club in the Magners. Conversely, they have leaked the second most tries next to Connacht.

Therefore, all the motivation and the rewards reside with the former Heineken Cup champions. The 'next ball' or 'next match' mentality will see Leinster find good reason to readjust.

Coach Michael Cheika will not want to end his five-year tenure without another trophy. It is the only currency that he respects. Of course, he is also not alone.

There is also the considerable matter of the announcement of Girvan Dempsey's retirement during the week. One could be forgiven for suspecting a strategic element at play.

The decorated Ireland full-back is not quite ready to drift off over the horizon. It is just one more reason why Leinster will want to end this season on a high.

Verdict: Leinster

Promoted articles

Entertainment News