Scots on rocks as Elsom blends power and pace

Edinburgh 16 Leinster 27
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The Independent Online

Strange times, these, at the home of Scottish rugby. The sight of Martin Corry and Mike Tindall parading on the pitch in kilts last Monday was bizarre enough. Yesterday, five days on from the Heineken Cup media launch, came a new version of The Rocky Horror Show.

Eighteen minutes into this Pool Two opener, Rocky Elsom plucked the ball from the side of a ruck and set off towards the Edinburgh line, some 25 metres away. He got there with gas to spare, brushing off Mike Blair and Phil Godman. It had not been quite so easy back in Australia, where the blind-side played for the Waratahs and the Wallabies.

Twice in the last two seasons Edinburgh had succeeded in ambushing Leinster at Murrayfield in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup, but yesterday Rocky's opening blow was only the start of the horrors for Andy Robinson's side. Seven minutes later Leinster launched a counter-attack from deep with a pass from Luke Fitzgerald that was not so much forward as halfway to Leith. Somehow it was missed by Rob Debney, the English referee, and his nearest touchline assistant. It was a shocker, but then so was the defending that allowed Felipe Contepomi (pictured) to burst up the middle and feed a scoring pass to Brian O'Driscoll. Sadly for Edinburgh and for Robinson, their head coach of 12 months, there was more of the latter to come before half-time. With 37 minutes on the clock, O'Driscoll shimmied past Blair on the Leinster 22 and advanced deep into home territory before shipping the ball for Contepomi to score. A minute later Jamie Heaslip charged up the right and fed the ball on, via the full-back Girvan Dempsey, for Shane Horgan to score.

And that was just about that. Edinburgh had actually enjoyed the better of the opening 15 minutes but they only had six points on the board by the interval, courtesy of penalties by Godman and Chris Paterson. Still, from 24-6 down, they made something of a fight of it in the second half.

Just before the hour, when the charging lock Jim Hamilton was stopped 10m short of the Leinster line, Blair had three men waiting on the overlap for his recycled pass, which was deliberately blocked by the offside Contepomi. The Argentinian outside-half was sent to the sin-bin and Edinburgh were awarded a penalty try, which Paterson converted. Paterson, playing at full-back, added another penalty for 24-16 but Contepomi returned from the sin-bin to land a three-pointer that snuffed out any prospect of a turnaround.

At one point in the second half Robinson descended the West Stand steps to point out to officials another try-spoiling act . Afterwards his mood was still as black as his suit and shirt, though his ire was directed at his team.

"The referee did not lose us that game," the former England head coach said. "It was down to missed tackles. The first-half performance was unacceptable for a professional side. To concede four tries, and in the manner we did, was unacceptable. We let down the Edinburgh supporters and I take the responsibility for it."

Leinster could hardly believe their luck. "I think the word is 'bonus'," Michael Cheika, their coach, said, reflecting on his team's four-try haul. "That's what it was. We didn't expect that up here."

Edinburgh: C Paterson; M Robertson (J Houston, 60), H Southwell (D Blair, 78), N De Luca, S Webster; P Godman, M Blair (capt); A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, M Mustchin, J Hamilton (B Gissing, 60),S Newlands (C Hamilton, 73), A Hogg, A Macdonald.

Leinster: G Dempsey; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (J Sexton, 79), L Fitzgerald, R Kearney; F Contepomi, C Whitaker (C Keane, 69); S Wright (C Healy, 40), B Jackman (J Fogarty, 74), CJ Van Der Linde, L Cullen (capt), D Toner (T Hogan, 66), R Elsom, J Heaslip, S Jennings.

Referee: R Debney (England).

Edinburgh

Try: Penalty

Con: Paterson

Pens: Godman, Paterson 2

Leinster

Tries: Elsom, O'Driscoll, Contepomi, Horgan

Cons: Contepomi 2

Half-time: 6-24

Att: 5,372

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