Leinster power past lacklustre Edinburgh
October 11, 2008
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll was back to his best
© Getty Images
Leinster were handed the easiest of Heineken Cup victories as Edinburgh paid dearly for a terrible first half in their Pool Two opener at Murrayfield.
The venue for this year's final had been a real bogey ground for the visitors - but some truly shocking tackling allowed them to run in four tries before the interval through Rocky Elsom, Brian O'Driscoll, Felipe Contepomi and Shane Horgan.
That proved enough to secure victory, despite Edinburgh being awarded a penalty try early in the second half.
Although Magners League champions, Leinster had lost on their last four visits to Murrayfield - including two Heineken Cup clashes in the last two years. In what were ideal conditions for running rugby, they were on the back foot from the first whistle as Edinburgh set up camp in their opponents' half - going close to scoring when flanker Alan MacDonald burst clear.
Leinster were defending stoutly, but their hosts finally got the points their early dominance deserved when Phil Godman kicked a 45-metre penalty after 15 minutes. Three minutes later, and out of nothing, the visitors were 'gifted' the softest of opening tries when flanker Elsom burst through at least three weak tackles to gallop clear. Contepomi, who reverted to fly-half today, converted.
More poor tackling allowed number eight Jamie Heaslip to run 50 metres, before Edinburgh finally brought him down.
But Leinster were two tries to the good in the 24th minute when Contepomi was the latest to benefit from the malaise, feeding O'Driscoll for a touchdown under the posts before converting himself. The normally-deadly Chris Paterson then missed a 35m penalty, after the visitors infringed at the breakdown.
If Leinster's first two tries were gift-wrapped, their third showcased O'Driscoll's brilliance. From a standing start, the Ireland captain showed one way then the other before accelerating clear and putting Contepomi in for the score.
The hosts were still getting their breath back when Leinster were through again on the right touchline, Horgan awarded the try after consultation with the video referee. Contepomi missed the conversion, and Paterson kicked a 25m penalty to reduce the arrears - but there appeared no way back from 24-6 at half-time.
Edinburgh head coach Andy Robinson emerged from the dressing room with a face like thunder. His rollicking initially looked to have had little effect. But a moment of madness from Contepomi 10 minutes into the half handed the hosts a penalty try and saw the Argentinian sin-binned.
Edinburgh looked certain to score after Jim Hamilton burst clear and the ball was recycled, but Contepomi intercepted from a blatantly offside position. Paterson converted the try to get the hosts within 11 points.
Temporarily a man down, Leinster reduced the game to a forward battle - and Edinburgh's frustration saw them a concede a penalty which Rob Kearney failed to convert. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Paterson kicked another penalty after Contepomi again thwarted a move from an offside position. The infringement prompted a furious Robinson to burst from his seat in the stands and sprint down to the touchline to remonstrate with the fourth official.
But it was his own lock, Matt Mustchin, who saw yellow shortly afterwards for a late tackle - and Contepomi kicked the resulting penalty. Another O'Driscoll break almost wrapped things up with five minutes remaining, but Edinburgh were already beaten.
Edinburgh: Paterson, Robertson, Southwell, De Luca, Webster, Godman, M. Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, G. Cross, Mustchin, J. Hamilton, Newlands, MacDonald, Hogg.
Replacements: Houston for Robertson (53), Gissing for J. Hamilton (59), C. Hamilton for Newlands (72).
Not Used: Kelly, Kerr, Laidlaw, D. Blair.
Leinster: Dempsey, Horgan, Fitzgerald, O'Driscoll, Kearney, Contepomi, Whitaker, Wright, Jackman, van der Linde, Cullen, Toner, Elsom, Jennings, Heaslip.
Replacements: Sexton for O'Driscoll (79), Keane for Whitaker (68), Fogarty for Jackman (74), Healy for van der Linde (40).
Not Used: Hogan, S. Keogh, Brown.
Sin Bin: Contepomi (50).
Heineken Man of the Match: R Elsom (Leinster)
Referee: Rob Debney (England)