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Leinster: 19 (9) Edinburgh: 18 (8)

On the face of it, a bonus point loss at the RDS is not a disaster.  Indeed, at the business end of the season, the point Edinburgh secured on Saturday evening may still prove important in the hunt for a play-off spot.

But this defeat was, once again, an opportunity squandered.  Leinster were resting their Irish internationals prior to the forthcoming Autumn series; Edinburgh, meanwhile, were fielding a strong side and should have been confident.  Once again, though, they failed to take the match by the scruff of the neck and instead it was Leinster who dominated.  As a result, there was no platform for that much-needed away victory and the Gunners continue to languish in the lower reaches of the Magnersleague.

Some years ago, I recall making a pleasant trip to see the pool game in Toulouse during the quarter final season.  In the first half, Toulouse rarely, if ever, shifted the ball beyond Freddy Michalak at 10.  Instead, their big runners bombarded the Embra defence like siege guns and the fearsome Toulouse pack attacked the Embra scrummage with extreme venom.  At the break, forty minutes of cutting down Trevor Brennan, Isitolo Maka and their chums running at full pelt had clearly taken their toll on the visitors.

In the second half, by dramatic contrast, it was showtime.  The Toulouse backs ran the ball from everywhere, zinged it from wing to wing and generally made merry as they won the match at a canter.  That fun was made possible by the rather less glamorous first half forward effort.

That was a rather extreme illustration of a famous maxim of Andy Robinson’s - that you have to ‘earn the right to go wide’.  So far this season, Embra have not done that. 

A lack of confidence is one of those things that sorts itself out once things start to click.  There are, in any event, various players in the squad who are already playing with a fair bit of it already, notably the try machine Tim Visser.  The worrying thing, though, is that the Embra selection policy continues to baffle.  Yes, this is a talented squad who can score from anywhere, beat anyone in Europe on their day etc etc.  But no matter how flashy your passing or sleight of hand may be, you still need to have the ball in the right position on the park to do some damage.  And this Edinburgh pack, in particular, simply does not seem to be set up to deliver that.

They undoubtedly missed the bulk and competitiveness of Fraser McKenzie on Saturday - one young player who has really risen to the challenge this term.  But the blend in the back row continues to look wrong and the packs that are being selected are just not big enough.  Frankly, unless there is a change of approach, things look unlikely to improve a great deal.

Although Edinburgh made a perky start, it was Leinster who were on the board first, a Nacewa penalty giving them the lead on five minutes.  Good Embra defence saw a try threat averted shortly afterwards as flying winger Conway was nailed just short of the line, the breakdown king Ross Rennie nicking possession to clear the danger.

And Edinburgh then scored the first try of the evening, an alert Blair M dink over the home defence from inside his own half seeing Tim Visser showing his soccer skills to dribble the ball over for yet another touchdown to add to his season’s tally.

After Nacewa had scored another penalty, a Grove flip did not quite go to hand in the danger zone as Edinburgh pressed.  Paterson’s penalty gave them the lead again shortly afterwards.  But Nacewa’s third penalty of the evening gave the home side a narrow lead going into the break.

Former Embra man Nathan ‘Wagga’ Hines, set up the first score of the second period, a super offload to the cantering Conway saw the young winner barge through both Blairs and over for the converted try.

Although Mossy replied with a penalty shortly afterwards, the Leinster lead was stretched by yet another Nacewa penalty after David Young had been carded for an offence at the maul that looked to have been more of a Jacobsen effort.  18-11 Leinster.

 Yet Edinburgh stuck at their task and were rewarded with a second try.  This time, a massive Ross Ford Rumble saw the hooker take the ball up deep into enemy territory.  Quick ball allowed Blair M to feed Paterson, who crossed for an easy score, converted by himself.  19-18 Leinster with a full quarter to go and very much game on. 

Sadly, the Gunners were unable to get themselves into a scoring position and their disappointing form continues.

Benetton Treviso are next up at Murrayfield on Friday.  These guys are no mugs; and, indeed, sit above Edinburgh in the table.  It will take a focused performance to beat them.  Losing is unthinkable.



Scorers: Leinster: Try: Conway. Con: Nacewa. Pens: Nacewa (4).

Edinburgh: Tries: Visser, Paterson. Pen: Paterson 2. Con: Paterson.



Leinster: I Nacewa; S Horgan, E O'Malley, F McFadden, A Conway; I Madigan, P O'Donohoe; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, M Ross, L Cullen (cpt), N Hines, D Ryan, S Jennings, S Keogh. Replacements Used: R Ruddock, I Boss, S Berne.

Edinburgh: C Paterson; J Thompson, A Grove, J Houston, T Visser; A Blair, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, S MacLeod, E Lozeda, N Talei, R Grant (cpt), R Rennie. Replacements Used: K Traynor, D Young, C Hamilton, S Newlands, G Laidlaw, D Bishop, M Robertson.

Referee: Damasco (Ita)