Leinster hold off Edinburgh
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Jamison Gibson-Park’s late try sealed a hard-earned 21-13 victory for Leinster at home to Edinburgh, with the hosts keeping up the pressure on Scarlets at the top of Conference B.
Leo Cullen’s men shaded the first half 14-13, Jordi Murphy and Joey Carbery touching down either side of Jason Tovey’s intercept score.
And after 33 scoreless minutes in a nip-and-tuck second period, finally Leinster broke through with Gibson-Park crashing down for the decisive try.
Leinster were looking to bounce straight back from a setback against the Cheetahs last week in South Africa, but it was visitors Edinburgh who started brightly at the RDS.
Tovey was pulling the strings beautifully as Richard Cockerill’s men kept the ball in hand, James Johnstone made a lovely break, and eventually they settled for three points in front of the posts as Devin Toner was penalised for a high tackle.
And Tovey doubled his tally in ten tenth minute from the tee as Leinster were pinged for offside – with Johnstone, Phil Burleigh and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne showing great hands in the build-up.
But out of nowhere Leinster were ahead two minutes later. Tom Brown was penalised for taking out Dave Kearney in the air, and from the resulting lineout the Boys in Blue were unstoppable and Jordi Murphy rumbled over.
Jonathan Sexton, skippering the hosts, made no mistake with the conversion to make it 7-6 – but Leinster were not in front for long as a loose pass cost them seven points.
Tovey picked it inside his own half and sprinted 70 metres to score under the posts, outpacing the chasing Leinstermen.
The hosts almost hit back immediately moments later with Seán Cronin making a searing break to move his side into the Edinburgh 22, but after Sexton chipped over the top, Scott Fardy knocked on with the line at his mercy.
But Leinster were not done there and piled on the pressure, with Edinburgh first offside and then pinged for not rolling away, giving Sexton the chance to kick to the corner.
And as the Boys in Blue pounded away at the line, Carbery finally wriggled across the whitewash past the tackle of Glenn Bryce as the clock ticked into the red, and Sexton’s conversion made it 14-13 at the break.
Edinburgh were defending deep in their own half at the start of the second period, but two crucial turnovers kept Leinster at bay, with Hamish Watson getting over the ball brilliantly.
However, when Jamie Ritchie saw yellow for a late hit on Luke McGrath, Leinster almost made their extra man count immediately as a powerful lineout maul was just stopped short.
But Edinburgh escaped unscathed from Ritchie’s ten-minute sin-bin, and went on the offensive, seeing Dougie Fife’s 64th-minute try chalked off by the TMO for crossing.
Entering the last ten minutes this clash could have gone either way, but it was Leinster who struck the hammer blow as Glenn Bryce hit an errant clearance and Jamison Gibson-Park was the benefactor.
Ross Byrne hit a brilliant conversion to take the gap to eight points, and from there Leinster held on for a 21-13 triumph.
Tries: Murphy, Carbery, Gibson-Park
Cons: Sexton 2, Byrne
Pens: Tovey 2
Yellow card: Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh, 50)
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Rory O'Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Seán O'Brien, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Jordan Larmour.
Edinburgh: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Tom Brown, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Dougie Fife, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Fraser McKenzie (captain), 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Darryl Marfo.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Murray McCallum, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 John Hardie, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Robbie Fruean.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Kieran Barry (Ireland)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)