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Leinster vs Edinburgh Guinness Pro12

Posted by Cian Nolan on November 29, 2014

Was it just me or were their just the smallest glimpses of skill on show last night? If you have read much of the content online recently from various sites, you must have noticed the despair at how much our handling skillset has depleted. It certainly isn’t what it was under Joe (I’m not sure it could ever be that good again) but I saw some offloads and deft hands that warmed the cockles of this supporters heart in the 33-8 bonus point win against Edinburgh. Admittedly, Edinburgh had a huge injury list and were shorn of Players due to International call-ups but so were we.
The team started off brightly, which was a welcome contrast to recent performances, with the likes of Gopperth, Kirchner, Fitzgerald and Furlong all carrying well in the opening minutes. The overall momentum continued as the home side earned a penalty when Loosehead Andre Fell was penalised for taking out Luke McGrath from the back of a ruck without the ball. Rather than take the 3 points on offer though captain McLaughlin opted to kick for the corner. The attempted catch and drive maul was brought down illegally by the visitors but Ryan took advantage of Referee Nigel Owens advantage and dove over the line. Gopperth was unable to add the extras but nonetheless, a good start. 5-0 Leinster after 6 mins.
Edinburgh were left to rue their failure to take any points from their visit to the home sides ’22 as Leinster went up the field and scored their 2nd try of the evening. Reid, Gopperth and Kirchner were to the fore as quick thinking and passing put Leinster deep into the visitors ’22. Due to the speed of play Leinster were employing and the many phases they’d kept the ball for the Edinburgh defence couldn’t handle Conan taking the ball at speed to canter over the line. Flanker Tomassi Leonardi will have been disappointed with his attempted tackle as Gopperth atoned for his earlier miss to extend the home sides lead. 12-0 Leinster after 15 mins.
The game became messier after the 2nd try with both sides losing players. Leinster lost new signing Ben T’eo to a suspected broken arm much to the frustration of himself and the supporters. The visitors did get off the mark when they were awarded a penalty by Owens for Strauss not rolling away in the ruck. He was unfortunate as, whilst trying to get away, the ball bounced off his feet from the ruck and came back on the Leinster side. Tom Heathcote made up for a poor miss earlier by landing this penalty from straight in front of the posts. 12-3 Leinster after 25 mins.
It wasn’t until the 2nd half that Matt O’Connor’s men found their form of the opening 15 mins of the game and scored their 3rd try of the evening. Edinburgh had tried to take a quick lineout which was stolen and grounded by Ryan but Owens didn’t allow the throw on the basis that the lineout was formed. The visitors were rattled at having to devise a plan B. Furlong won a Leinster penalty after a great Conan tackle allowed him to get over the ball forcing the mistake. Gopperth kicked the ball into the corner and the subsequent catch and drive led to Ryan going over again and this time the score was allowed. Gopperth added the extras and the bonus point chase was on. 19-3 Leinster after 54 mins.
Once again Edinburgh were left to rue a lack of handling skills and discipline that prevented them getting a try to put them in with a shot of at least a losing bonus point as Leinster were the team to secure the bonus point with their 4th try. From my spot on the terrace it appeared to be an extremely intricate move based off an unusual lineout but, on 2nd viewing at home, there was a bit more luck involved than I realised initially. Strauss threw the ball to Furlong at the front of the lineout who passed to the onrushing Boss. Boss popped the ball to Bryan Byrne who once tackled tried to place the ball for Denton but as Furlong rucked over he kicked the ball forward which Denton caught running onto the ball. Denton himself was tackled just before the line but he popped the ball up to Marshall who grounded the ball. As I said earlier, a genuine combination of skill and luck. Gopperth kicked the conversion. 26-3 Leinster after 65 mins.
Edinburgh did get a try that their play had deserved throughout the evening. After a turnover, Kirchner kicked down field where Graham Tonks carried the ball up and fed Jack Cuthbert who’d successfully evaded Mick McGrath’s despairing tackle. Whilst Harry Crosbie did bring down Cuthbert as he was coming through, he couldn’t prevent the offload to Tomassi as he touched down in the corner. Heathcote was unable to add to their total from the conversion. 26-8 Leinster after 77 mins.
Leinster scored a lovely try to round off the evening and send the supporters home somewhat happy. From a catch and drive lineout, Dan Leavy took the ball up and presented well for Boss to enable quick ball. Gopperth than ran at the visiting defence and thanks to the quality of Mick McGrath’s run, they couldn’t decide where Gopperth was going to pass the ball to. He went right to Fitzgerald who popped the ball out of the tackle to the supporting McGrath who dotted the ball down untouched for the 5th try of the evening. A genuinely great score. Gopperth added the extras to round off a good night for the home team at the RDS. 33-8 Leinster after 80 mins.
There have been ups and downs during this opening part of the season for Matt O’Connor’s side and the team will need to show more skill and imagination to beat the bigger sides in the Pro 12 and Europe. Having said that, given the injuries to key personnel, it’s a reasonable start to the season.

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