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BIG GIRLS CRASH OUT OF EUROPE

Edinburgh: 16 (6) Leinster: 27 (24)



Most of the Embra supporteriat work hard for a living.  In today's increasingly uncertain economic times, money is tight in many households.  And £150 for an Edinburgh Rugby season ticket is a lot of money for many folk.  It's a big commitment.

It would be nice to see that commitment mirrored on the park from time to time.  There were high-end handbags for sale in the President's Suite this afternoon.  It seemed an odd venue, but maybe the retailer was an astute character after all.  Because Edinburgh fielded a bunch of big girls in this opening Heineken match and got what they deserved against visiting Leinster.

The ELVs seem to have produced even more aimless tactical kicking than before.  This afternoon was no exception.  But when Chris Paterson launched a superb kick to the Leinster 22 with five minutes to go and a possibility of at least a losing bonus point, no-one bothered to chase.  The Leinster back three were nowhere to be seen, but no-one bothered.  The ball was sitting perfectly with the tryline free, but no-one bothered.

True, the referee did Embra few favours.  The first three results from a quick Google search have revealed English club coaches "blasting", "raging" or launching a "scathing attack" on the unfortunate gentleman.  This fits in quite well with the home assessment of his performance this afternoon.  But no matter how inconsistent he may have been, you are not going to win any game if you fall off tackles - or miss them altogether - the way Edinburgh did today.  I would have felt a lot happier if the visiting Brechin Micro Pirates had taken on the defensive chores.  There's a club that can handle adversity.

The galling thing was that Edinburgh had all the pressure virtually throughout the first half and much of the second.  Their scrummage and even the lineout were sound.  But the cutting edge remains elusive.

Leinster have not been in great form themselves this season, aside from the small matter of a 52-6 clobbering of today's opposition.  Today they did not do much.  They didn't need to.  Four flashes of quality were enough to wrap up the bonus point before the break and they cruised relatively comfortably through the next period to get their Heineken campaign off to a good start.  Ordinarily, with one away win in the bag, they would be looking good for qualification already.  But as abject Edinburgh are likely to roll over equally timidly for Wasps and Castres, they may have to break a bit of a sweat during the pool stages if they are to make sure of their spot.

Edinburgh had all the territory in the opening minutes and a brilliant de Luca break on 10 minutes saw them threatening.  Jackman was lucky not to be penalised for lying all over the ruck ball.  Leinster were looking comfortable in defence, though, so it was a relief when Godman knocked over a long range penalty on 14 minutes to secure some points from the period of home superiority.

I thought that the arrival of coach Robinson had genuinely changed the Edinburgh mindset, but I was wrong.  Classic cluelessness after the restart saw Edinburgh easily turned over following a bit of aerial ping-pong.  Dempsey was not on his feet when he won the ball, but impressive Australian blindside Elsom evaded three weak tackles to scoot over for the opening try on 17 minutes, goaled by Contepomi.  The score was totally against the run of play, but Leinster had shown Edinburgh just what to do with a half chance.

They did it again on 24 minutes.  The officials missed a clear forward pass in the build up to O'Driscoll's try, but Leinster should not have come even close to the 22.  This one was gifted to them by atrocious defending.  Was it confusion induced by this new defensive coach Steadman?  Or do these professional players just not know how to execute one of the most basic skills of the game?  Argentine Ace Contepomi added the extras.

After Paterson had missed a penalty on 26 minutes, more madcap defensive antics saw Contepomi score from long range after O'Driscoll had skipped beautifully through an admittedly incompetent defensive line.  It was a good try to score, but a criminal one to lose.

Immediately from the restart, Heaslip and Dempsey on the counter put Horgan away for the bonus point try with a couple of minutes left in the half. Embarrassing, unacceptable.

Paterson pulled back a penalty on the stroke of half time to make the score 6-24.  Big deal.

The Embra corpse twitched a bit after the break as Leinster took the foot off the gas.  "Big" Jim Hamilton, who was one of the few to have a decent game, reached his top speed of about 3 mph on a fine tackle-shedding solo rumble which ended just short of the Leinster line.  Embra recycled quickly, the offside Contepomi intercepted and was carded.  Edinburgh were awarded a penalty try.  Frankly, this was just about the only way they were going to cross the whitewash this afternoon.

But Leinster saw out the power play very well.  A combination of tactical injuries and pick and drives deep in the Embra 22 snuffed out the home threat.

Although Edinburgh were second best at the breakdown most of the match - how they miss Ross Rennie - they did start to up the tempo after the hour.  Quick ball saw MacDonald delay his pass well, but Paterson did not have enough room on the wing to cap a flowing move with a try. 

He knocked over a penalty on 66 minutes, though, after Edinburgh looked certain to go over.  Hugo's pass was deliberately knocked on by Whitaker deep in the 22 with attackers spare.   The Australian should have been carded and it was surely every bit as much a penalty try as the previous one.  But Mustchin was sin binned for a late tackle shortly afterwards.  Contepomi knocked over another penalty and Edinburgh's interest in the competition effectively ended.

After the match, coach Robinson said:

"It's very disappointing. We certainly have to understand how to tackle. The first-half tackles that we missed were poor.
"Leinster hadn't really created anything, they just broke our line and scored four tries just from unstructured play. Credit to them for their support play.
"We have to understand that you've got to start well and from there, it's a basis to go and win a game.
"Too often we say, 'if only this or if only that.' We can't keep doing that. It's not good enough."

Hopefully someone in the dressing room took that on board.

The Heineken is over for another season.  On today's showing, Edinburgh do not deserve to play another match.

I don't know about you, but I'm beyond angry.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Leinster's Australian flanker ROCKY ELSOM, who had a fine game as the visiting back row reigned supreme at the breakdown.
 
Scorers:

Edinburgh: Paterson 2P 1C, Godman 1P, Penalty Try 

Leinster: Contepomi 3P 2C 1T, Elsom 1T, O'Driscoll 1T, Horgan 1T

Edinburgh: C Paterson, M Robertson, Hugo, N De Luca, S Webster, P Godman, M Blair (capt), A Jacobsen,R Ford, G Cross, M Mustchin, J Hamilton, S Newlands, A MacDonald, A Hogg.
Replacements: A Kelly, G Kerr, B Gissing, C Hamilton, G Laidlaw, D Blair, J Houston.

Leinster: G Dempsey, S Horgan, L Fitzgerald, B O'Driscoll, R Kearney, F Contepomi, C Whitaker, S Wright, B Jackman, CJ van der Linde, L Cullen (capt), D Toner, R Elsom, S Jennings, J Heaslip.
Replacements: J Fogarty, C Healy, T hogan, S Keogh, C Keane, J Sexton, G Brown.

Referee: R Debney (RFU)