Macken brace key for Leinster22/09/2012 - 20:17:04
Leinster 22 Edinburgh 16
A second-half brace of tries from Brendan Macken steered Leinster to a hard-earned RaboDirect PRO12 win over Edinburgh at the RDS.
Jonathan Sexton, the hero against Benetton Treviso, slipped through for an eighth minute try to get them off the mark against Michael Bradley’s men.
But Edinburgh, winless in Dublin for seven years, came to the fore in the second quarter with Greig Laidlaw rewarding them with a brace of penalties.
That left Leinster hanging on to a 10-6 lead at the break and although Macken’s tries extended the advantage, Edinburgh showed great resolve to take the game right down to the wire.
The Scots bounced back from two sin-binnings to grab a late try from South African prop Willem Nel, ensuring a nervy finish for the home side.
Proceedings began on a sombre note as a minute’s silence was impeccably observed in honour of Ulster’s Nevin Spence, who died tragically last weekend.
The match got under way amid a fans’ rendition of ’Stand up for the Ulstermen’ and Leinster built up an early head of steam, threatening from quick ball.
Sexton sent Cian Healy hurtling through a sleepy Edinburgh midfield, and the out-half followed up to spear through a gap in the drifting defence and score the opening try.
The left-sided conversion was added by Sexton, who moved Leinster into double figures by the end of the first quarter, landing a penalty from the right after Andrew Conway was kept out close to the try-line.
Missing the services of ace finisher Tim Visser, Edinburgh were unable to fire a shot until Netani Talei and Stuart McInally made a couple of midfield busts.
A snappy break from Richie Rees got the Scots into scoring range and, after Nick De Luca’s near miss from a hanging kick, their captain Laidlaw potted a simple penalty for 10-3.
Edinburgh drew closer thanks to a longer strike from Laidlaw just past the half hour mark, as an increasing amount of unforced errors left Leinster frustrated.
Lee Jones was thwarted by Isa Nacewa in a one-on-one out wide and the hosts had to scramble as eye-catching bursts from De Luca and Ross Ford almost led to a late try.
As the second half began, Leinster needed a spark of inspiration and it came from replacement centre Macken, who launched a superb counter attack from deep.
Backs and forwards combined to keep the move going and Edinburgh prop John Yapp’s efforts in slowing up a close-in ruck resulted in him being yellow carded.
As Leinster pressed again, the Scots had lock Sean Cox sin-binned for killing the ball.
The under-strength Edinburgh scrum managed to stave off a pushover score though, and debutant Tom Denton was also tackled into touch.
The numerical advantage eventually paid off for Leinster in the 57th minute as they flooded forward in support of the fast-breaking Fionn Carr, who passed for Macken to finish off in the right corner.
Sexton was unable to convert and Edinburgh responded with another Laidlaw penalty on the hour mark to stay in the hunt.
However, a bout of hard running and crisp passing helped Leinster take a sizeable leap towards victory.
Man-of-the-match Macken snuck through for his second try, profiting from Jordi Murphy’s pass out of a tackle.
Edinburgh were far from finished, their forwards carrying with purpose in the shadow of the posts and a lovely pop pass from Rees put replacement Nel over in the 71st minute.
Laidlaw converted to give the Scots a deserved losing bonus point, but there were no further scores despite plenty of action in the late stages.
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