Edinburgh 29 Leinster 10: O'Driscoll's agony as Leinster sink to knees

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The Independent Online

The last time Brian O'Driscoll visited Murrayfield on provincial team duty he sank to his knees at the final whistle, a picture of utter dejection, Duncan Hodge's last-minute sucker punch of a drop goal having consigned Leinster and their captain to a 25-24 defeat. On Saturday, some 13 months on, O'Driscoll departed before the end, hobbling off the field in injury time, shaking his head as he went.

The sometime centre of excellence had just been nailed by his opposite number, the excellent Nick de Luca. Over the preceding 80 minutes, De Luca and his Edinburgh colleagues had done much the same to Leinster and their Heineken Cup hopes.

The great Irish pretenders (semi-finalists the season before last, assured victors against Leicester in their opening pool match this time round) were left looking like would-be emperors in need of a trip to the nearest Oxfam shop for something to cover their modesty. Leinster's shortcomings were brilliantly exposed on a chilly afternoon in the Scottish capital by a side drilled to the heights of all-round efficiency by their coach of three months, Andy Robinson. Admittedly, the home pack spent the afternoon almost entirely on the back foot, but when it came to manning the last-ditch barricades Edinburgh were awesome.

Three times in one prolonged Rorke's Drift spell before the interval, Leinster appeared to have forced their way over the line, requiring the assistance of the television match official, Tony Rowlands. The video analysis showed one spillage by Jamie Heaslip, the Leinster No 8, and two try-saving hold-ups by Mike Blair and Phil Godman, the Edinburgh half-backs.

Leinster did get a score on the board, the referee, Tim Hayes, awarding them a penalty try when De Luca took out O'Driscoll off the ball with steamroller subtlety when the Ireland captain was chasing a grubber kick by Felipe Contepomi. That, however, was the sum product of Leinster's attacking endeavour.

Edinburgh, in contrast, were sharpness personified when they had possession. Seven minutes before the interval they cut the Leinster defence to shreds. From quick line-out ball on the right, Andrew Turnbull made the decisive break, drawing in O'Driscoll and Girvan Dempsey before feeding fellow-wing Simon Webster for a score in the left corner.

The contest was as good as over in the 54th minute when the full-back, Ben Cairns, snaffled a loose pass from Rob Kearney to run in Edinburgh's second try. There was also a peach of a drop goal, executed with the left foot, by Mike Blair, Edinburgh's captain and orchestrator-in-chief, plus six place kicks out of six by Godman.

As for Leinster, they departed with Shane Horgan suffering from suspected cracked ribs and, collectively, with a probable facture of their Heineken Cup dream.

Edinburgh: Tries Webster, Cairns; Conversions Godman 2; Penalties Godman 4; Drop goal Blair. Leinster: Try Penalty Try; Conversion Contepomi; Penalty Contepomi.

Edinburgh: B Cairns (C MacRae, 79); A Turnbull, N De Luca, J Houston, S Webster; P Godman (D Blair, 79), M Blair (capt; B Meyer, 79); A Allori (G Cross, h-t), R Ford (A Kelly, 70), C Smith, M Mustchin (C Hamilton, 68), B Gissing, S Cross (R Reid, 50), R Rennie, D Callam.

Leinster: G Dempsey; S Horgan (L Fitzgerald, 26), B O'Driscoll (capt; J Sexton, 80), G D'Arcy, R Kearney; F Contepomi, G Easterby (C Keane, 69); O Le Roux (C Healy, 74), B Jackman, S Wright, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, S Keogh (K Gleeson, 49), S Jennings, J Heaslip.

Referee: T Hayes (Wales)