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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Charlie Bennett 8 Feb 2018

Edinburgh Rugby face a stern test on Friday night as they welcome three-time European champions Leinster to Myreside in Round 14 of the Guinness PRO14.

Leinster have won their last five league games and ran out 21-13 winners against Edinburgh in the reverse fixture in September.

What’s at stake? Edinburgh are fourth in Conference B, but lie just three points behind third-placed Ulster, so a positive result against Leinster could be crucial to their play-off hopes.

Leinster are fighting it out with Scarlets for top spot and sit two points behind the Welsh side, so a win will be important to keep up their push to finish top of Conference B.

Team News (Edinburgh): Murray McCallum returns to the side after making his Scotland debut against Wales last weekend, starting at prop with Jordan Lay who replaces Rory Sutherland.

There are two changes in the back row, as academy graduate Luke Crosbie comes in at flanker and Bill Mata starts at No.8.

Dougie Fife comes in at full-back and Chris Dean starts at inside centre.

Team News (Leinster): Michael Bent is set to make his 100th cap for Leinster, alongside Richard Strauss and Peter Dooley in the front row.

Will Connors makes his senior Leinster debut at openside flanker, along with Josh Murphy and Max Deegan in a youthful back row.

Dave Kearney starts at full-back for Leinster for the first time since February 2015, as Barry Daly moves to the left wing.

Talking Points: Edinburgh face a tricky run of fixtures in the next four weeks, with matches against Ulster, Dragons and Minster after the visit of Leinster.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “This block of four games is going to be crucial for us. We’ve got to knock some big teams over.

“It will be a test for us mentally, as we’re missing a few senior guys with the national team, but we’ve played pretty well across the squad this year.”

Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty reserved praise for 100-cap Bent: “One of the qualities that Michael has – he’s a quiet character – but he goes to work.

“He has worked on his game, he’s worked on his scrum, and he’s improved hugely. He’s very important for us.”

Key battle: Will Connors v Jamie Ritchie

Will Connors’ debut success could hinge on his battle with Jamie Ritchie.

The Edinburgh flanker has become a first-team regular under Cockerill since breaking into the team a year ago.

Connors will be hoping for a similar rise as he embarks on his senior Leinster career.

Key stat: Edinburgh have won only one of their last fifteen fixtures against Irish provinces: 28-17 over Ulster at BT Murrayfield in November 2016.

Did you know? Leinster have not played at Myreside since a visit in the European Champions Cup in October 2000, with Edinburgh winning 29-21.

Edinburgh: Dougie Fife, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Nathan Fowles, Jordan Lay, Cameron Fenton, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie, Lewis Carmichael, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Ritchie, Bill Mata

Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Rory Sutherland, Matt Shields, Magnus Bradbury, John Hardie, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Junior Rasolea, Glenn Bryce

Leinster: Dave Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid, Barry Daly, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Peter Dooley, Richardt Strauss, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy, Will Connors, Max Deegan

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Oisin Heffernan, Mick Kearney, Peadar Timmins, Luke McGrath, Ciaran Frawley, Adam Byrne

Match officials – Referee: Paul Williams (NZRFU), AR1: Mike Adamson (SRU), AR2: Lloyd Linton (SRU)

TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)

TV: BBC Alba and TG4 (KO – 7.35pm)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Bennett late try hands Edinburgh victory over Leinster

James Andrew 9 Feb 2018

Mark Bennett’s late try helped Edinburgh snatch a dramatic 29-24 GUINNESS PRO14 victory in a nine-try tussle with Leinster at Myreside.Opportunistic scores from Luke Crosbie and Nathan Fowles overturned Max Deegan’s early try for the visitors.

Leinster went 19-12 up with further tries from Scott Fardy and Barry Daly before Murray McCallum drove over to bring Edinburgh to within two.

Duhan van der Merwe put the hosts ahead before Daly’s second made it 22-24, but Bennett struck in the 79th minute.

The bonus-point victory keeps Edinburgh on the tails of third-placed Ulster in Conference B as leaders Leinster suffered a third league defeat of the season.

Edinburgh fell behind early when Leinster at their clinical and accurate best trucked it up, a succession of pick and go’s that Edinburgh couldn’t deal with. Deegan, the number eight, went over, Ross Byrne banged over the conversion and the Irishmen were ahead.

Richard Cockerill’s team lived off scraps for the opening half but they fed heartily on the little ball they had.

Crosbie charged down a Leinster clearance and galloped all the way to the posts, Jaco van der Walt converting. Three minutes later, Bennett ripped ball off Dave Kearney and Fowles scampered clear for Edinburgh’s second.

Leinster’s response was swift and, for Edinburgh, it looked ominous. Fardy and then Daly struck before the break after sustained pressure. Daly, a prolific finisher, had much work to do but he made short shrift of the home defence, blasting through it from close-range.

When McCallum barrelled over for Edinburgh’s third try just before the break it was slightly surreal. The conversion was missed by Bennett but, still, they trailed by just two points having had precious little possession, scoring off every chance and half-chance.

They got on the ball more in the second half and hit the front when Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s clever box-kick eluded Fergus McFadden and Van der Merwe took advantage. A bonus-point try for the home side.

The conversion was missed, this time by Hidalgo-Clyne, but Edinburgh led 22-19. John Hardie was on the field by then, the flanker making his return to the fold after his long suspension.

Edinburgh’s lead was short-lived. Leinster were utterly ruthless all night in turning their possession into points and just after the hour, Daly did it again. That made it 24-22 to the visitors.

The end-game was dramatic. With just two minutes left on the clock, Edinburgh pulled off a sumptuous play, Van der Walt chipping deftly ahead, Glenn Bryce soaring for the ball in the air and knocking it backwards into Bennett’s welcoming hands.

It had to go to the TMO for confirmation, but there was no doubt. Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion was akin to a lap of honour. There was no time left for Leinster to come back.

A sublime piece of rugby settled it, a cool-headed finish that gave Edinburgh a precious victory.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138