Leeds left with nothing after Laney leads rout

Leeds 0 Edinburgh 23
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The Independent Online

Edinburgh looked throughout as if they had something important to play for in this disappointingly one-sided Heineken Cup Pool Two match at Headingley.

To describe it as a contest would threaten a visit from a Trade Descriptions Act inspector. Leeds were simply awful. Bereft of imagination, the Tykes gave away far too much ball at the breakdown, while their dreadful control matched their lack of meaningful attacking ideas. Afterwards their director of rugby, Phil Davies, had an understandably haunted look about him. "We were comprehensively beaten," said Davies, refusing to find sanctuary in lame excuses. "We played with a lot of spirit, but we made far too many mistakes, and you can't do that at this level."

Edinburgh are the only unbeaten side in the competition, and they remain on target to become the first Scottish side to reach the quarter-finals of the competition. And all this without the inspiration of their injured captain, Todd Blackadder. Although Edinburgh still have to visit the champions Toulouse, if they beat Neath-Swansea Ospreys and claim a bonus point, at Meadowbank on Friday, they will be almost certain to reach the knock-out stages.

Edinburgh went about their work as if they had nothing more taxing on their minds than putting together a gang to paint the Forth Bridge. There was certainly plenty of colour about their early work. Led splendidly from the front by their workaholic stand-in captain, Brendan Laney, they were given an encouraging start by the big Kiwi, who landed a second-minute penalty and then converted Simon Webster's try.

With nothing much on and Edinburgh shaping for more defensive chores, the No 8, Simon Taylor, intercepted a loose pass and after a moment of one-handed juggling, he sent Webster on a 70-metre dash for the line. So within the first quarter of an hour Edinburgh were 10-0 up, from where they never looked back. Within three minutes of the break, Laney dropped a terrific goal, before Marcus di Rollo compounded Leeds' misery with a second interception try. This time it was Dan Hyde who threw a wayward pass which was grabbed gleefully by the forceful centre, who outpaced Matt Cardey over 45 metres for the touchdown.

Laney converted and then banged over his second penalty before retiring with a back problem with 14 minutes remaining. Edinburgh were obliged to rejig their backline, with Craig Joiner moving to centre and Hugo Southwell coming on to the left wing. Although Leeds were spared the embarrassment of allowing Southwell to score from his first pass, they could hardly have complained had he not spilled the ball in the act of touching down.

Edinburgh: Tries Webster, Di Rollo; Conversions Laney 2; Penalties Laney 2; Drop Goal Laney.

Leeds: M Cardey (L Botham, 70); P Christophers, A Snyman, T Davies, D Albanese; T Walsh (G Ross, 40), R Walker; M Shelley, M Regan, M Holt (G Powell, 59), P Murphy, T Palmer (capt), J Ponton (A Persico, 59), D Hyde, A Popham.

Edinburgh: D Lee; S Webster, M di Rollo (T Philip, 62), B Laney (capt; H Southwell, 66), C Joiner; C Paterson, M Blair; A Jacobsen, D Hall (C di Ciacca, 73), C Smith, N Hines, S Murray, A Dall, A Hogg, S Taylor (A Strokosch, 74).

Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).