Edinburgh In Driving Seat At Myreside

Written by on February 10, 2018

Edinburgh (17) 29
Tries: Crosbie, Fowles, McCallum, Van der Merwe, Bennett Cons: Van der Walt, Hidalgo-Clyne
Leinster (19) 24
Tries: Deegan, Fardy, Daly 2 Cons: Byrne 2

A late Mark Bennett try saw Edinburgh snatch a dramatic Pro14 win in a nine-try tussle with Leinster at Myreside.

Opportunistic scores from Luke Crosbie and Nathan Fowles overturned Max Deegan’s early try for the visitors.

But a clinical Leinster went 19-12 up with further tries from Scott Fardy and Barry Daly before Murray McCallum drove over to bring Edinburgh to within two.

Duhan van der Merwe put the hosts ahead before Daly’s second made it 22-24, but Bennett struck in the 79th minute.

The bonus-point victory keeps Edinburgh on the tails of third-placed Ulster in CONFERENCE B as leaders Leinster suffered a third league defeat of the season.

Even though this game was shorn of so many top-class Test players, stuck into the schedule as it was on a Six Nations weekend, it was still a hugely important fixture for Edinburgh in their pursuit of a place in the knock-outs, more so than for Leinster who are already as good as there.

Only the top three in the conference go through. In what was a remarkable opening half, they fell behind early when Leinster at their clinical and accurate best trucked it up, a succession of pick and go’s that Edinburgh couldn’t deal with. Deegan, the number eight, went over, Ross Byrne banged over the conversion and the Irishmen were ahead.

Richard Cockerill’s team lived off scraps for the opening half – 36% possession and 33% territory – but they fed heartily on the little ball they had.

Crosbie charged down a Leinster clearance and galloped all the way to the posts, Jaco van der Walt converting. Three minutes later, Bennett ripped ball off Dave Kearney and Fowles scampered clear for Edinburgh’s second.

Leinster’s response was swift and, for Edinburgh, it looked ominous. Fardy and then Daly struck before the break after sustained pressure. Daly, a prolific finisher, had much work to do but he made short shrift of the home defence, blasting through it from close-range.

Duhan van der Merwe scores to put Edinburgh ahead in the second half
Duhan van der Merwe’s try regained the lead, briefly, for Edinburgh in a topsy-turvy affair

When McCallum barrelled over for Edinburgh’s third try just before the break it was slightly surreal. The conversion was missed by Bennett but, still, they trailed by just two points having had precious little possession, scoring off every chance and half-chance.

They got on the ball more in the second half and hit the front when Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s clever box-kick eluded Fergus McFadden and Van der Merwe took advantage. A bonus-point try for the home side.

Again, the conversion was missed, this time by Hidalgo-Clyne, but Edinburgh led 22-19. John Hardie was on the field by then, the flanker making his return to the fold after his long suspension.

John Hardie in action for Edinburgh against Leinster
John Hardie made his comeback as a second-half replacement, after his ban for gross misconduct

Edinburgh’s lead was short-lived. Leinster were utterly ruthless all night in turning their possession into points and just after the hour, Daly did it again. That made it 24-22 to the visitors.

The end-game was dramatic. With just two minutes left on the clock, Edinburgh pulled off a sumptuous play, Van der Walt chipping deftly ahead, Glenn Bryce soaring for the ball in the air and knocking it backwards into Bennett’s welcoming hands.

It had to go to the TMO for confirmation, but there was no doubt. Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion was akin to a lap of honour. There was no time left for Leinster to come back.

A sublime piece of rugby settled it, a cool-headed finish that gave Edinburgh a precious victory.

Post-match reaction:

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill: “It is a good result. We are learning to stay in the battle and hopefully that was a statement of our intent.

“I am actually pretty disappointed with how we played. I am not particularly happy with the performance. We scored five tries to four; I am not quiet sure how we did.

“But we were tenacious and stuck in there and we will take the win. We have got some heart and guts and we are starting to creating a bit of belief.

“They are five really valuable points and we go to Ulster next week playing for third spot, so happy days. ”


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