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O’Driscoll fires Leinster victory

jmcconnell 23 May 2006

British and Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll put in a man of the match performance at Murrayfield on Friday evening as Leinster dismantled a brave Edinburgh Gunners side 8-31.

The Leinster skipper scored two and made another as Leinster had to win to keep up the pressure on Ulster in bthe race for the League title.

The victory was not enough however, as Ulster had already won narrowly in Wales.

Leinster, backed by a big and noisy travelling support, dominated the opening exchanges. But they could not turn pressure into immediate points through a combination of handling errors and stout home defence.

Argentinian playmaker Felipe Contepomi was in the thick of the action and he was involved in two near things. He set up the first real opportunity with a darting run, only for Gordon D´Arcy to spill his clever flipped pass over the shoulder.

He then set up a penalty line-out in the Gunners´ danger zone and, after the ball was held up over the try-line, he created another opening which ended with yet another frustrating knock-on.

Despite being a man down after Will Green was sinbinned, Leinster seized control with O´Driscoll´s quickfire one-two. First, he was in the right place at the right time to latch on to a perfectly-weighted Shane Horgan feed.

Then he found an extra yard of pace to dart in under the crossbar when the home markers were expecting the ball to be sent wide.

O´Driscoll almost made it a hat-trick when he raced after Contepomi´s grubber kick, but Phil Godman reached it a split second ahead of him.

With the two conversions to his credit, Contepomi was unlucky to see his long-range penalty crash back from the woodwork.

Gunners steadied the ship and stayed in the hunt thanks to a try by veteran lock Scott Murray four minutes before the interval.

Rory Lawson took a quick penalty and Murray muscled over following excellent link work by Matt Mustchin, Al Dickinson and Andy Kelly.

Another two-try burst earned Leinster the precious bonus point and ended the Gunners´ challenge.

O´Driscoll turned from scorer to provider as his interception sent Horgan clear – then the brilliant Contepomi bagged a typical opportunist effort. He converted both and added a penalty for good measure.