Friday 15 December 2017

Leinster duo Leo Cullen and Brian O'Driscoll hail fans as Leinster secure win

Dave Kearney, Leinster, scores his side's second try. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Dave Kearney, Leinster, scores his side's second try. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, receives treatement for a shoulder injury during the match. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Cian Healy, Leinster, is tackled by Tomas Leonardi, Edinburgh. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Dominic Ryan, Leinster, is tackled by Dimitri Basilaia, Edinburgh. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Dave Kearney, Leinster, is congratulated by brother Rob after scoring their side's second try. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Jordi Murphy, Leinster, is tackled by Alasdair Dickinson, Edinburgh. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Leinster's Rhys Ruddock picks up Edinburgh's Greig Laidlaw after the the award of a penalty to Edinburgh. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Rob Kearney, Leinster, jumps over a ruck as he is tackled by Alex Toolis, Edinburgh. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll after the game. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Leinster 15 Edinburgh 13

Leinster duo Leo Cullen and Brian O'Driscoll hailed their supporters - and they would have wanted to after sitting through a dour RDS struggle that confirmed their date with Ulster in next Saturday's Pro12 semi-final (ko, 7pm).

Tries from Jodi Murphy and Dave Kearney secured the win but the party atmosphere that pervaded throughout had nothing to do with what happened on the pitch.

"We've had so many great days and the supporters have made all those successes, especially our Heineken Cup wins," said Cullen, who will next year become forwards coach.

"When you see 30,000 supporters at a game, it's really special and it's going to be tough to miss it. Winning in 2009 was probably our greatest moment. We need to put in a better performance than this next week.'

Brian O'Driscoll said: "He's the heartbeat, everything that is good about him is good about Leinster."

As for the game itself, Greig Laidlaw kicked an early penalty for the visitors but Murphy ensured the celebratory atmosphere was ramped up even further with a touchdown just six minutes earlier following relentless pressure, featuring a trademark drive from the restored O'Brien.

After that, pretty much not happened until Laidlaw snuck his side ahead with virtually the last play of the half; in between, the home side coughed up a hat-trick of lineouts and a scrum.

With the play-off line-ups guaranteed as Glasgow ramped up a bonus in their game against Zebre in 25 minutes, Leinster were hopefully holding much in reserve.

They nearly coughed up a try too, but a neat move, which upended O'Driscoll amongst others, was ruled out due to a forward pass.

And, worryingly, they lost Richardt Strauss to injury before their lineout calamities ensued, with what for all the world looked like a season-ending hamstring injury; we will know more on Monday.

Leinster protected possession much better as the second act ensued.

Rob Kearney almost got in after sustained pressure but Jimmy Gopperth ensured the minimum return as his side edged back in front by the 51st minute, just as O'Brien trundled off after his pleasantly unexpected run-out.

Six minutes later, Leinster seemed to secure the result when Dave Kearney chose a brilliant line to slice through the away defence from Gopperth's pass; the 57th conversion for 15-6 allowing Cullen a little relief following his replacements just moments earlier.

As they had done most of the game though, they slipped into a deep sleep, with Rhys Ruddock drifting wide at pillar to allow Laidlaw gambol though a gaping hole, feeding Tim Visser for the easy run-in.

Laidlaw's conversion tightened matters to 15-13 with 15 minutes remaining as the intermittent showers threatened to rain on the parade.

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