Both Dan Leavy and James Ryan had to leave the field with head injuries, not to return in Leinster’s 31-7 victory over Edinburgh.
Leinster left it late to beat the twenty-three point spread but Gary Ringrose’s late try achieved this after a break out from their twenty-two. Edinburgh had built up some sustained pressure despite having had a man sent off but lost the bull forward in just one of many mistakes in an error strewn evening.
The red card seemed to surprise the replacement prop, Peter Schoeman. He used used forearm rather than hand when fending off Leavy’s tackle. Leavy was slow to get to his feet and had to go off for a head injury assessment not having been on the field for all that long. He played no further part in the game.
This type of fend off has been focussed on by referees recently, and it’s about time. It can be equivalent to a full punch in the head; it should not be tolerated. Ben Teo was sin binned on multiple occasions for the same offence during his time here. I would not have complained had the referee used red rather than yellow.
This was not a pretty match, up the jumper stuff for long periods, with a lot of tight goal line defending by both teams. A few players made the difference for Leinster.
Cian Healy won the man of the match award. He was tenacious in the tackle in the opening quarter and carried the ball well in the tight, forward dominated exchanges. In one memorable moment he showed off some fancy footwork with not one but three spins to put off potential tacklers. Leinster were dominant in the scrum, winning penalties as often as not, and Healy was on of the key players there.
Larmour really is a player working at a different pace to the rest of the team. He seems to be a step beyond everyone when he has the ball. It was difficult to find gaps in a well drilled Edinburgh defence, but his try was a perfect demonstration of his skill, first jinking to the left then the right to completely fool the defenders. He made it look easy, effortless.
At full back we witnessed him linking up at will with James Lowe regularly and they had some fun together. Lowe is from a different planet in terms of offloading — well a different hemisphere anyway — but he was the recipient of a beautiful one from Larmour to go in for a try just before half-time to settle the home crowd’s nerves.
The scrum was solid tonight and Tadhg Furlong’s entry in the second half made it dominant.
Sexton was the subject to a few tough tackles and left the field after scoring a try in the corner and taking a hit in the process. He nailed the conversion and left the pitch mouthing off to the referee. It was a tactical rather than injury substitution so with luck there will not be any serious injury concern.
Three head injury assessments and a blood injury in one game is worrying especially as two international players were involved. Concussion is a career ending injury. The game’s lawmakers are going to have to address this soon. The World Cup has the possibility of being a car crash for the players if improvements to player safety are not made.
The backs had the monopoly on scoring as far as the blues were concerned. McFadden, Lowe, Sexton, Larmour and Ringrose dotting down with Sexton managing to convert three of his four attempts. The response from Edinburgh was a solitary and converted try from their number eight.
Not a bad night but much left to mull over. The try given away is bound to annoy the hosts, however, their defensive play apart from that was awesome.
Special shout out to Toner for his charge down which broke the deadline and got Leinster off the mark. He sped after the ball, collected it and just about presented it for McFadden, quick in support, to grab it and get over the line.
A few rounds of local derbies away to Connacht and home to Munster (or at least close to home, the game is being held down the road in the Aviva) before we really start the season with the European cup games. Lots to look forward to in the coming weeks.