Four second half tries propelled Leinster to a 30-23 GUINNESS PRO12 bonus point win over Edinburgh at the RDS…
Leo Cullen’s men extended their lead at the top of the table to five points, but a late penalty from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne earned Edinburgh a deserved losing bonus point.
Two Ian Madigan penalties had cancelled out Jason Tovey’s third-minute opener as Leinster led 6-3 at half-time, a poor return given Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie’s 33rd-minute sin-binning.
But tries from Luke McGrath and Josh van der Flier, either side of a Tom Brown effort, catapulted the league leaders clear and Fergus McFadden’s brace had the bonus point secured with 17 minutes left.
Replacement Mike Allen squeezed in an intercept effort for the visitors, who ended the game strongly with another five-pointer from Sean Kennedy and Hidalgo-Clyne’s closing penalty.
A high tempo start saw Tovey boot Edinburgh in front before he was pinged for not rolling away and Madigan levelled matters. Luke Fitzgerald and Ben Te’o initiated a break down the left wing that was eventually rewarded with three more points.
Tovey then missed out on an intercept try as play was called back for a prior knock-on, while Leinster’s midfield axis of Te’o and Noel Reid increased their ball-carrying threat in the second quarter.
Edinburgh’s well-organised defence held firm, though, winning a couple of key ruck penalties in their 22 after multi-phase Leinster moves.
However, having got a team warning, Edinburgh lost teenage forward Ritchie to the sin-bin for infringing at the breakdown. Again, the visitors managed to frustrate Leinster who fell short with a couple of promising mauls.
The fit-again Rob Kearney, enjoying his first appearance in blue since January, was making some purposeful runs, and the breakthrough finally came in the 43rd minute. Madigan’s flat pass back inside released Fitzgerald through the middle and he ran hard up into the 22 before sending the supporting McGrath in under the posts.
However, Madigan’s conversion was followed by a quick response from Edinburgh as Tovey’s long pass looped over McFadden and allowed Brown to finish smartly in the left corner.
Tovey’s conversion attempt fell short and he blundered when missing touch from a penalty. Replacement Kennedy’s subsequent pass was intercepted by Reid who offloaded for man-of-the-match van der Flier to race through for a real sucker-punch score, converted by Madigan.
Leinster soon sucked in enough Edinburgh defenders for Reid and Fitzgerald to pass wide and send winger McFadden over in the right corner.
Former Ulster back Allen read a short Madigan pass to claw seven points back, but McFadden brilliantly barged over past Blair Kinghorn and WP Nel for his second try of the night.
Kennedy went clean through from a ruck in the 70th minute, and Edinburgh’s high level of endeavour – typified by a terrific Damien Hoyland break – saw them close the gap to seven thanks to Hidalgo-Clyne’s close range strike.
Leinster return to the RDS Arena on 7th May to face Treviso in the final game of the regular season. Purchase your tickets from €;20.
LEINSTER SCORERS: L. McGrath (1 try), J. van der Flier (1 try), F. McFadden (2 tries), I. Madigan (2 conversions and 2 penalties)
EDINBURGH SCORERS: T. Brown (1 try), M. Allen (1 try), S. Kennedy (1 try), J. Tovey (1 conversion and 1 penalty), S. Hidalgo-Clyne (1 penalty)
15. Rob Kearney
14. Fergus McFadden (Luke Fitzgerald, 77)
13. Ben Te’o
12. Noel Reid
11. Luke Fitzgerald (Dave Kearney, 75)
10. Ian Madigan (Cathal Marsh, 65)
9. Luke McGrath (Eoin Reddan, 65)
1. Cian Healy (Peter Dooley, 52; Cian Healy, 75)
2. Richardt Strauss (Sean Cronin, 52)
3. Mike Ross (Tadhg Furlong, 52)
4. Ross Molony (Devin Toner, 65)
5. Mick Kearney
6. Rhys Ruddock CAPTAIN (Dominic Ryan, 51)
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jordi Murphy
EDINBURGH: Blair Kinghorn; Damien Hoyland, Chris Dean, Phil Burleigh, Tom Brown; Jason Tovey, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford CAPTAIN, WP Nel, Anton Bresler, Ben Toolis, Jamie Ritchie, John Hardie, Cornell du Preez.
REPLACEMENTS: Stuart McInally, Rory Sutherland, John Andress, Alex Toolis, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Sean Kennedy, Mike Allen.
REFEREE: Marius Mitrea (FIR); ASSISTANT REFEREES: Andy Brace, Leo Colgan (both IRFU); CITING COMMISSIONER: Tim Lowry (IRFU); TMO: Dermot Moloney (IRFU).