Exiles exposed as Edinburgh surge into quarter-finals
Edinburgh 34 London Irish 11
Edinburgh advanced to the knockout stage of the Heineken Cup for the first time in eight years after producing some scintillating rugby to sweep aside a toothless London Irish at Murrayfield.
There were almost six minutes on the clock when Irish had their first visit to Edinburgh territory. That venture yielded a penalty which Adrian Jarvis steered home to put his side ahead.
The lead lasted only two minutes as Greig Laidlaw gathered at the breakdown and slotted a kick between two opposition defenders. The ever-alert Tim Visser – operating on the "wrong" wing – won the sprint to the line and Laidlaw added the extra two points from wide on the right. The captain extended the Scots' lead with a close-range penalty following an offence at a scrum with 20 minutes played but that was swiftly nullified by Jarvis.
However, Edinburgh were soon back on the offensive and, when Irish strayed offside 25 metres from their posts, Laidlaw added three more points to the home tally. Four minutes before the interval, the Scottish side earned further reward for their dominance when, after a series of phases which carried them to within two metres of the line, the ball was moved wide and Laidlaw fired out a pass that found James Thompson in space. The full-back raced over untouched and Laidlaw added the conversion to send Edinburgh in at the break with a 20-6 advantage.
Irish showed greater urgency after the restart but, despite almost 10 minutes of uninterrupted possession and numerous phases of play, they were easily repelled. Having spent almost 20 minutes on defensive chores, the hosts launched a fresh assault when Roddy Grant burst through and offloaded to Matthew Scott. He in turn sent Visser scampering in at the corner – only for the referee to call back play after adjudging Grant's pass forward. Irish responded with a rare flash of urgency. Ross Samson's quickly taken free-kick allowed Jon Joseph to race down the flank and exchange passes with Adam Thompstone, taking the return and powering past two defenders for an unconverted score that left Edinburgh 20-11 ahead with 14 minutes to play. However, Edinburgh were not to be denied and another spell of pressure allowed Netani Talei to crash over.
Edinburgh set off in pursuit of the bonus point score, which came with three minutes to spare when Lee Jones raced down the right flank to score. Laidlaw maintained his unblemished form with the boot.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries Visser, Thompson, Talei, Jones;
Conversions Laidlaw 4; Penalties Laidlaw 2. London Irish: Try Joseph; Penalties Jarvis 2.
Edinburgh: J Thompson; L Jones, J Houston, M Scott, T Visser; G Laidlaw, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross (J Gilding, 73), G Gilchrist (E Lozada, 73), S Cox, S McInally, R Grant, N Talei.
London Irish: D Armitage; T Ojo (S Shingler, 58) J Spratt (J Joseph, 58), S Hape, A Thompstone, A Jarvis, P Hodgson (R Samson, 52), A Corbisiero (M Lahiff, 52), J Buckland (B Blaney, 38), L Halavatau (F Rautenbach, 47), J Sandford (N Kennedy, 52), B Casey, M Garvey, J Sisi, A Gray.
Referee P Fitzgibbon (Ireland).
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