Edinburgh 29-24 Leinster
Leinster let a valuable opportunity slip away last Friday with a error strewn final few minutes in Edinburgh. They did manage to get the bonus points for both try scoring and losing by less than seven, but they should have clinched all five on offer.
The squad was missing most of the Ireland internationals, but was bolstered with Luke McGrath and Fergus McFadden, being surplus to Joe Schmidt’s requirements this week for the game against Italy.
These Six Nations games can be real opportunities to blood inexperienced players but you need to mix a certain amount of experience into the team to ensure there is cohesion. It felt that we never defended completely as a team letting in some extremely soft tries.
In the past Leinster has had mixed results in these international window matches despite significant numbers of players being called to the national squad. Last year Leinster won all games during the Six Nations window but they have not had it all their own way before that. Away losses to Cardiff, Glasgow and Connacht in 2016 followed a poor year in 2015 where we lost at home to Dragons, away to Scarlets and only managed a draw against the Ospreys.
The back three looked particularly exciting going forward, Great to see Adam Byrne returning from injury. Dave Kearney was out of his regular position playing full back but did a fine job. His couple of mistakes were costly and probably down to lack of playing time at fifteen.
From a purely biased point of view, I don’t think the match officials got the call right for the final score. The point at which the ball is touched from the kick is about one meter inside the twenty two line. The receiving player catches it two meters inside. Shouldn’t that be a knock on?
We saw one or two balls going forward I the Six Nations games this weekend and being allowed, but that was with players running full pelt and clearly passing backwards. The momentum is what caused the ball to travel forward on the pitch.
In that final phase of play the player has little or no forward momentum, jumping up rather than forward. So the fact that the ball was caught in a forward position should have been spotted.
Not to worry. Two points will have to do and was enough to move us to the top of Conference B with the Scarlets losing away to Treviso. Leinster face the men from the West Country twice during this Spring series and it looks like the Welsh team has been suffering as much or more from the absence of their international players who have been called up to fill in for injuries. This is a good opportunity to steal a march on the conference rivals.