Posted by: Eoghan | September 13, 2008

Leinster v Edinburgh – Analysis

Read a match report here. Watch this space for Nathalie’s photos from the game.

Magners League – Round 2
Leinster 52
Edinburgh 6

Leinster’s first home game of the season and the first installment in a four-part series these teams will contest this season went the way of the reigning Magner’s League champions.

The result was important not merely for league standings but also with an eye on their opening Heineken Cup pool game in five weeks’ time.

Given the Scots put paid to Leinster’s European Cup ambitions last season in the eerie expanse of an empty Murrayfield, this trip to Edinburgh on 11 October has assumed huge importance. Leinster can’t win the Cup that day but they can certainly lose it. How much can be read into this early autumn’s night romp?

While Edinburgh were missing some frontline players, Leinster are also awaiting the arrival into the squad of Australian flanker Rocky Elsom and South African prop C J van der Linde, both of whom are World XV contenders in their positions. Given the third overseas signing Isa Nacewa has enjoyed a positive start to the campaign, Michael Cheika will be hopeful that the big hitters from the Southern Hemisphere can settle in equally well and show their undoubted quality.

The game itself was encouraging in that Edinburgh fired a lot of ammunition at Leinster early on but the home side absorbed the pressure and kicked well tactically before clinically dispatching the opportunities they got, the first try showing more backline class than we saw in the entire match against the Blues last weekend.

Defensive line-speed and aggression was much better this week too but work needs to be done on the restarts, whose sloppiness on more than one occasion will hurt Leinster against better opposition. Say Wasps, for example.

Edinburgh will be tougher and it will undoubtedly be tighter when the sides meet next but this pummelling cannot have helped the Scottish side mentally.

Taking the long view, Leinster have a chance to build some momentum with two more home matches, including a derby against Munster followed by a trip to Connacht in the league before facing Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup. The early part of the season is not badly set up with key Pool 2 rivals Wasps Dallaglio-less and possibly still without Danny Cipriani when they visit the RDS on 18 October. Leinster have a good chance to take pole position going into the Christmas break.

In the shorter term, Ospreys and Munster will be two big tests over the coming weekends and will reveal a lot about whether Leinster will be serious ERC challengers this year.

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