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Edinburgh's play-off bid dented after loss to Leinster

By PA
Jason Jenkins of Leinster during the United Rugby Championship match between Edinburgh and Leinster at The Dam Health Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Edinburgh’s hopes of reaching the United Rugby Championship play-offs were dealt a blow as they were overpowered 47-27 by leaders Leinster – their seventh defeat in their last eight games in the tournament.

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The Irish side had won all 14 of their previous games in the competition and, although the first half was relatively even, in the end had little difficulty in adding a 15th victory, running in seven tries, six of them converted by Harry Byrne.

That first half featured five tries, the first of which saw Edinburgh take the lead through Emiliano Boffelli after good work in midfield from Stuart McInally and Marshall Sykes.

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But the Argentina international was wide with his conversion attempt and that allowed Leinster to go ahead minutes later when Max Deegan shrugged off a Ben Vellacott tackle all too easily to touch down before Harry Byrne converted.

However, that lead did not last long either.

An Edinburgh move up the right quickly gained ground and when the ball came back infield Boan Venter finished off from a couple of metres out. Boffelli was on target this time and added a penalty minutes later.

Again, though, Leinster soon hit back. Steady pressure in front of the posts ended with them being awarded a penalty and some slick inter-passing from the tap saw Scott Penny plunge over.

Byrne’s conversion reduced the Irish side’s deficit to a single point and they went on to regain the lead late in the half with their third try, finished off by Michael Milne after Dave Kearney and Liam Turner had done the initial damage. Another Byrne conversion made it 21-15 at the break.

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Minutes after the restart, the lead extended into double figures.

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A Leinster attack down the right wing sucked in the home defence and when Jamie Osborne saw Kearney unmarked on the far left, he delivered a cross-kick which the winger just secured and downed. The conversion attempt was missed.

Edinburgh replied with an unconverted score by Boffelli but Leinster restored their double-figures advantage when Milne notched his second from close range.

Michael Ala’alatoa got his team’s sixth try and when Penny added his second there was still more than a full quarter to go.

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Edinburgh had the last word minutes from time when Sam Skinner scored the bonus-point try and Charlie Savala converted. Leinster replacement Brian Deeny was yellow-carded for an offence in the build-up.

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Flankly 4 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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