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DICKINSON DISPLAY DISPATCHES LEINSTER

Gunners: 41 Leinster: 33



There are two sorts of people in the world: those who mark their comeback from injury with a pretty useful display, all things considered; and those who do not. And the Gunners' outstanding returning back-rower tonight is certainly one of the former. It's good to have him back.

But enough about Simon Cross. Simon Taylor also returned after over a year out and looked in fine fettle too, putting in an hour of good quality work, and notching an alert score before making way for David Callam in a seven try, 41 - 33 Edinburgh win that was more emphatic than that scoreline suggests.

Both stellar breakaways, though, were rather overshadowed by an extraordinary performance from Ally Dickinson. The young prop scored two touchdowns, scrummaged strongly in a Gunners pack that was all over the enemy, and was to be found scorching up the wing in dangerous fashion on a regular basis.

And the home maul was rumbling ominously from the beginning, three times coming close to the Leinster line in the first five minutes. Then Di Rollo almost put Webster away in a great Edinburgh counter. Although Leinster's own enterprise suggested that the crowd were in for an entertaining, if rather parky, evening, it was the Gunners who scored first. And it was that man Dickinson who popped up in the midfield after the Gunners had probed from wing to wing in the enemy 22. A Laney pass saw the young loosehead gather superbly then barrel over for the unconverted try, with two defenders hanging off him.

Webster came close on the half hour off a well-timed Lee pass after Smith had alertly snaffled a Leinster lineout overthrow. Then another desperately poor Blaney throw at a defensive lineout sailed into Taylor's arms in the tailgunner spot. The British and Irish Lion was driven over for the converted try that opened up a healthy gap.

Back came Leinster, though, with quick ball off the back of a scrum seeing winger Lewis use his pace to dash over on the blindside to narrow the gap to five. And this was a pattern to be repeated throughout the game. Although the Gunners were always in control, and their defence looked rock solid throughout, they occasionally seemed to fall asleep, allowing alert Leinster to profit from slackness.

With the half drawing to a close, though, the Gunners avoided a particular pet-hate of this column - failing to secure the bonus point when you are on top - with two quick-fire tries. First, off a lineout on the Leinster 10, another great driving maul saw Blair, Taylor, and Hines offload well in the tackle, before the ball was spun across to Lee on the other wing at the Leinster 22. It was a score as soon as he caught the ball, thirty yards out.

Five minutes later, more excellent Gunners mauling followed another steal at a Leinster lineout. After various Edinburgh digs, with the referee playing a series of advantages for visiting offences at the maul, a cute Laney pass put Godman over for the converted try. It was just reward for the five-eighth combination, who worked well together all evening.

But doh! Easterby sensibly took a quick tap penalty on the stroke of half-time to scoot through the dozing home defence to leave the score at the break 24-14. Closer than it should have been on the run of play.

And Leinster began well from the restart, with Australian centre Warner diving on a good Holwell grubber for an unconverted try to take the visitors to only 24-19 down. The Gunners came back into it, playing some good stuff. But ironically the game was decided by a botched Leinster attack on 52 minutes. A floated pass on the Edinburgh 22 was grabbed by "The Grim Reaper" Di Rollo, who showed the defence a clean pair of heels to scorch over from 80 yards. The Reaper's general wizardry in midfield is reminiscent of Gavin Henson, so perhaps a pair of silver boots might be merited in future? He can safely give the shaved legs a miss, though ...

Shortly after a clever Laney inside pass had almost seen Nitro Webster away, the game saw the best try of the night with an hour gone. From the latest forward rumble surging down the left wing, the ball was zipped right. Webster hit the line at the speed of a Lotus Elise; Laney's pass was perfect; the speedster didn't break stride and sliced clean through the defence from the enemy 10 for the touchdown. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And the Chainsaw's conversion made the score 36-19.

With the usual raft of substitutions on both sides indicating that the game was over, Dickinson found time to power down the right wing, just bundled into touch when a try was in the offing. He only had to wait two minutes for his brace, though. Blackadder went close on the left, before the ball was spun across to the right. The ball reached Dickinson just inside the 22, with a lot to do, but he weaved his way over for the Gunners' seventh and final try.

The closing stages were enlivened by a slightly eccentric kicking display from Mike Pyke, the Cantering Canuck. And slack defence allowed Leinster to claw back two converted tries in the ten minutes before no-side. Indeed, such was their enterprise that they were perhaps unlucky not to emerge with two bonus points for a close loss as well as for their four tries.

But in truth, this Edinburgh victory was well deserved, and they are now bearing down on Glasgow for the top Scottish Heineken slot next season, with the precious advantage of three more home games still to go. Next to visit the capital are Connacht. Once again, nothing less than a home win will do. And no soft scores next time please.

MAN OF THE MATCH:

Who else could it be but ALLY DICKINSON for a storming performance in tight and loose. Surely only his substitution denied him a deserved hat-trick?

SCORERS:

EDINBURGH: Laney 3C , Dickinson 2T, Taylor 1T, Lee 1T, Godman 1T, Di Rollo 1T, Webster 1T

LEINSTER: - Holwell 1T 4C, Warner 2T, Easterby 1T, Lewis 1T

TEAMS:

EDINBURGH RUGBY: Lee; Pyke, Di Rollo, Laney, Webster; Godman, Blair; Dickinson, Hall, Smith, Hines, Kellock, Blackadder ©, Taylor, Cross. Replacements: Kelly, Wharakura, Pringle, Callam, Dewey, Lawson, Joiner.

LEINSTER: Hewitt; McWeeney, Warner, Quinlan, Lewis; Holwell, Easterby; Lyne, Blaney, Nebbett, Costello, Gissing, Potts, Miller, Jennings (c). Replacements: Coyle, G Hickie, McCullen, Dillon, O'Riordan, McAllister, Norton.

Referee: Dickinson (Oz)