Edinburgh victorious with three late tries

Edinburgh 32 London Irish 25

Gary McCallum
Saturday 11 January 2003 01:00

Edinburgh produced a superb comeback to warm a shivering Murrayfield crowd and gain a measure of Heineken Cup revenge against London Irish last night.

The Scots looked to be dead and buried 15 minutes from time, trailing by 12 points and with a man in the sin-bin, but a fired-up side suddenly found their feet to score three tries in the closing five minutes.

The stand-off Brendan Laney, the winger Conan Sharman and the captain Todd Blackadder all notched touchdowns as the match was turned on its head.

It had looked as if the Scots would pay the price for conceding a string of penalties which allowed Mark Mapletoft to keep the Exiles ahead. He notched his first after just 90 seconds and only some desperate defending in the home ranks prevented a try by the visitors.

That feat looked certain to be achieved when Craig Joiner crossed the Exiles line following excellent work by Simon Taylor, but the former Scotland centre was unable to ground the ball.

Taylor scored a sizzling try after 35 minutes. Having started the move in his own half, he was on hand to finish it after an eight-man drive which featured crucial work from Sharman and Nathan Hines.

Mapletoft missed a penalty but the former England international made no mistake on the restart as Irish stretched their lead again, but within minutes the Gunners took the lead for the first time. Blackadder boldly decided to run a penalty in front of the posts and was rewarded, plunging over the line himself.

However, Laney missed the conversion and Mapletoft quickly put the visitors back in charge with two penalties.

It looked even better for Irish when Hines was sent to the sin-bin for foul play and Chris Sheasby notched the visitors' only try, Mapletoft converting before Edinburgh's stirring fightback.

Edinburgh: Tries Sharman, Laney, Blackadder 2, Taylor. Conversions Laney 2. Penalties Laney. London Irish: Tries Sheasby. Cons: Mapletoft Penalties Mapletoft 6.

Edinburgh: Lee; Sharman, Joiner, Dickson, Paterson; Laney, Burns; Jacobsen, Di Ciacca, Brannigan, Hines, Murray, Blackadder, Leslie, Taylor. Substitutes: Hall, Smith, Kellock, A Dall, A Hogg, Blair, Philip.

London Irish: Horak; Sackey, Burrows, Appleford, Bishop; Mapletoft, Edwards; Worsley, Drotske, Halford, Delaney, Casey, Gustard, Danaher, Sheasby. Substitutes: Martens, Everitt, Dawson, Kirke, Cockle, Hatley, Hardwick.

Referee: E Darrière (France).

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