Jamie Heaslip scored his third try in two Magners League games as Leinster maintained their run at the top of the table with a 13-3 defeat of Edinburgh.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, February 16
LEINSTER 13 EDINBURGH 6, Donnybrook (Att: 6,500)
Scorers: Leinster: Try: Jamie Heaslip; Con: Felipe Contepomi; Pens: Contepomi 2
Edinburgh: Pens: Duncan Hodge 2
Heaslip, the Ireland-capped number eight, slipped through for the only try on a forgettable night at Donnybrook, as neither side, shorn of their respective international players, managed to hit the heights.
Felipe Contepomi kicked eight points as Leinster moved their unbeaten home run, in all competitions, to 18 matches.
Edinburgh, the last team to beat Michael Cheika’s men away from home in the league, book-ended the tie with penalties from Duncan Hodge.
Heaslip was pinged for not releasing in the tackle in the third-minute, and Hodge, a late switch from inside centre to fly half, dinked over a left-sided penalty for the lead.
It took Leinster only a minute to reply as a ruck infringement from Geoff Cross allowed Contepomi to kick the leveller from close range.
The lively Argentinian then put Heaslip through a giant hole in the Edinburgh defence and Matt Mustchin was whistled up for offside, allowing the Leinster number 10 add his second penalty.
Lacking any real potency, Edinburgh readily worked through the phases but only Scottish internationals Simon Webster, who was disappointingly stretchered off with an ankle injury, and Ally Hogg looked to have any attacking edge.
After Hodge sent a penalty shot to the left of the posts, Leinster had their first dominant spell, although a Contepomi error, right on the Scots’ 22, almost saw the visitors strike on the counter.
Flanker Niall Ronan showed great pace to get back and retrieve the situation, with Webster’s in-field run foiled, and after a turnover on Alistair Warnock, Ronan then linked superbly with Contepomi to send Heaslip in for his 18th-minute score.
Contepomi converted but the floodgates failed to open. Leinster, who had scored eleven tries in their previous two league games, had a couple of chances for a second try before the break.
Most notably from Chris Whitaker’s 31st-minute kick over the top, which saw the Edinburgh rearguard marked absent but when Whitaker re-gathered the ball, his telegraphed pass to Gary Brown was brilliantly slapped away by full-back Warnock.
Leading 13-3 at half-time, the hosts had plenty of try-scoring opportunities in the early part of the second period, with Heaslip proving a menace in midfield, but they could not convert them.
Despite losing Hogg to a 48th-minute sin-binning, Edinburgh’s stout defence kept them in touch with Contepomi also missing two kickable penalties.
Credit to the Lynn Howell-coached Scots, they battled back for a losing bonus point as, with Leinster going off the boil, Hodge landed a 77th-minute place kick.
TIME LINE: 3 minutes – Edinburgh penalty: Duncan Hodge – 0-3; 5 mins – Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi – 3-3; 8 mins – Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi – 6-3; 11 mins – Edinburgh penalty: missed by Duncan Hodge 18 mins – Leinster try: Jamie Heaslip – 11-3; conversion: Felipe Contepomi – 13-3; Half-Time – Leinster 13 Edinburgh 3; 48 mins – Edinburgh sin-binning: Allister Hogg; 49 mins – Leinster penalty: missed by Felipe Contepomi; 57 mins – Leinster penalty: missed by Felipe Contepomi; 77 mins – Edinburgh penalty: Duncan Hodge – 13-6; Full-Time – Leinster 13 Edinburgh 6
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Gary Brown, Kieran Lewis, Christian Warner, Michael Berne; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Chris Whitaker; Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Devin Toner, Stephen Keogh, Niall Ronan, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Stanley Wright for McCormack (9 mins), Guy Easterby for Whitaker (60), Brian Blaney for Jackman (62), Owen Finegan for Hogan (74). Not used: Adam Byrnes, Jonathan Sexton, Fergus McFadden.
EDINBURGH: Alistair Warnock; Matt Dey, Ben Cairns, Peter Jorgensen, Simon Webster; Duncan Hodge (capt), John Senio; Alasdair Dickinson, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Matt Mustchin, Chris Bentley, Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, Allister Hogg.
Replacements used: Lucio Lopez Fleming for Webster, Allan Jacobsen for Dickinson (both 33 mins), David Young for Cross (half-time), Greig Laidlaw for Lopez Fleming (64), Lopez Fleming for Senio (70), Steve Lawrie for Kelly (74). Not used: Simon Cross, Fraser McKenzie.
Sin Bin: Hogg (Edinburgh) (48 mins); IrishRugby.ie man of the match: Ronan (Leinster)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)