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Laidlaw and Fife see off Leinster as Edinburgh march on

Greig Laidlaw returned to the side to help Edinburgh record an 11-6 win over reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions Leinster and make it five wins from seven in all competitions.

Laidlaw was one of a trio of Scottish internationals rested by head coach Alan Solomons for last week’s Heineken Cup win over Gloucester.

And he returned refreshed and raring to go, kicking two penalties and making a series of impressive breaks as Edinburgh recorded their first victory over the Irish side in six attempts.

Dougie Fife dotted down for the only try of the game in the first half as Leinster, who recorded two Ian Madigan penalties, suffered their first RaboDirect PRO12 defeat since round five against Munster.

With driving rain and windy conditions, it was always going to be a difficult night for flowing rugby and the early exchanges reflected that with several knock-ons from both sides.

Edinburgh were having the better of the early scrum exchanges, and an early penalty against Leinster on ten minutes saw Greig Tonks punt the ball long for an Edinburgh line out, but it failed to come to anything.

Leinster threatened to mount an attack on 17 minutes with a quick move that saw them move to within five metres of the line.

And while the hosts’ defence held firm, Leinster did get the first points of the game on the board four minutes later as Madigan kicked a simple three points from in front of the posts for a 3-0 lead.

But the hosts got themselves in front on the half hour mark when Fife slid over in the corner, although the beginning of the move came from a marauding run by Laidlaw a good five minutes earlier.

From then it was all about patient Edinburgh pressure and when Tonks asked for the ball on the left, he spun the ball to Fife for an easy score, Laidlaw pulling his conversion wide to leave the score at 5-3.

The momentum was with the hosts with the forwards making sure to leave their mark, as a driving maul was edged towards the Leinster line.

And when the visitors were penalised for coming in from the side, Laidlaw gratefully took the three-point option to put his side 8-3 up heading into the break.

A second Madigan penalty shortly after the break brought Leinster back to within two points but with Leinster penalised for not releasing, Laidlaw was on hand to slot over his second penalty of the game to leave the score at 11-6 after 46 minutes.

Edinburgh were continuing to enjoy more of the territory and another fine break from Laidlaw brought them into the Leinster 22 before he chipped over and Leinster ran the ball out just five metres from their line.

From the resulting set piece, Cornell du Preez looked to navigate his way through to line but after being held up, he was pinged for not releasing and Leinster cleared.

Laidlaw had an opportunity to extend his side’s lead to eight points on 74 minutes but he was unable to convert on the angle with the scores staying at 11-6.

Leinster were not about to throw in the towel just yet as they launched one last attack, but despite pummelling the line with two minutes to go, a knock-on handed Edinburgh the scrum.

Leinster put pressure on but the hosts watched the clock down for Laidlaw to kick into touch and confirm victory.

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