Sexton on the money as Leinster grind it out
Edinburgh 28 Leinster 36
Published 29/10/2011 | 05:00
A 23-point tally from Ireland out-half Jonny Sexton steered Leinster to victory at Murrayfield last night to maintain their challenge in the Pro12 league.
Sexton's accurate goal-kicking punished Edinburgh's indiscipline, with the hosts outscoring the visitors in the try-count by three to two.
It was Leinster who applied the initial pressure with multiple-phase play only for a turnover and then a collapsed scrum to change the early balance.
Edinburgh skipper Greig Laidlaw sent over a penalty, though Leinster looked set to make an instant reply. Rob Kearney was put into the clear only for an excellent tackle by Tim Visser to prevent the try. Edinburgh, however, were penalised at the breakdown allowing Sexton to kick the teams level.
Edinburgh attacked down the left, forcing Leinster to concede a line-out, from which the Scots attacked the try-line with a charge by back-row Dave Denton.
Having defended their own line, Leinster surged to the other end with a break by Isaac Boss. Again no try resulted and again Edinburgh transgressed at the contact area, allowing Sexton to notch his second penalty.
Leinster's lead was short-lived as winger Visser showed his international potential with clever running and sheer pace to score under the posts. Laidlaw converted to earn a 10-6 lead. But Edinburgh instantly fell foul of the referee at the restart and again Sexton made no mistake. Then, after a period of good ball retention, Boss added the finishing touches with a try converted by Sexton for a 16-10 lead.
Laidlaw and Sexton swapped penalties as Leinster headed for the interval with a six-point lead.
But it was all change at the beginning of the second half as Visser again produced a skilful run that took him past Sexton and the Kearney brothers, Dave and Rob, to score his second try. Laidlaw again converted to edge his side into a one-point lead.
Sexton responded once more with his fifth penalty, only for Laidlaw to reply in kind to leave Edinburgh 23-22 ahead.
The pendulum swung again in Leinster's favour as Rob Kearney delivered a clever pass to send Leo Auva'a over in the corner, with Sexton missing a difficult conversion attempt.
The Ireland star then missed a penalty from the left touchline but atoned for that with a sixth successful effort and then a drop-goal to push the Blues into a 33-23 lead.
Edinburgh, however, would not lie down and from a clever chip by teenage out-half Harry Leonard, centre Matt Scott claimed his side's third try, only for Laidlaw to miss the conversion. Then in the final minute of the game Edinburgh were again penalised and, with Sexton injured, Fergus McFadden wrapped up a Leinster win.
Edinburgh -- C Paterson (J Thompson 69); S Webster (T Brown 63), N de Luca, M Scott, T Visser; H Leonard, G Laidlaw; A Jacobsen, R Ford (S Lawrie 70), G Cross, E Lozada, S Turnbull (G Gilchrist 63), D Denton, R Grant, S McInally (N Talei 63).
Leinster -- R Kearney; D Kearney, E O'Malley, F McFadden, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton ( I Madigan 79), I Boss; H van der Merwe, S Cronin (R Strauss 50), M Ross (N White 61), L Cullen, D Toner, K McLaughlin (R Ruddick 58), D Ryan, L Auva'a.
Ref -- L Hodges (WRU).