Edinburgh rugby secured a comfortable bonus point 28-11 victory over an admittedly weakened Leinster side at a wind-stricken BT Murrayfield last Friday.
The visitors from the Irish capital fielded an undeniably understated team in Edinburgh, as they are yet to receive their full compliment of players after the end of the Welsh-dominated 2019 Six Nations Championship.
Yet let that take nothing away from a resilient Edinburgh side who were themselves down a few star players, such as Blair Kinghorn, as they recover from a physically immense couple of months of international rugby.
Those who braved the Murrayfield gale may have been forgiven for thinking that it would have been a far tighter affair at half time, as a penalty try on the strike of 40 minutes gave the hosts a slender 14-11 lead at the break.
The kicking game of Edinburgh’s half-backs and dominance of an imposing pack, which included Scottish internationals WP Nel and Alun Dell from the bench, used the conditions astutely to put the game beyond reach of the Irishmen in blue.
The industrious Lothian pack, spearheaded by the monstrous Mata of Fiji, proved far too canny and powerful for Leinster, as proved by a penalty try from a scrum and the three further tries all coming from forwards.
Whilst Leinster may well have returned to Dublin with their tails between their legs, they will have faith that this result is merely a blip in what is looking to be yet another promising season.
The return of international stars such as Tadhg Furlong, Gary Ringrose and World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton amongst others, will present a very different and more accomplished side than the Murrayfield crowd saw last Friday.
Leinster sit twelve points clear atop of the Pro14 Conference B as playoffs loom large and they face an oft-subpar Ulster side in the Champions Cup next week, where they seek an unprecedented fifth European Cup title.
Edinburgh’s current situation is far more precarious. This win lifts them into the fourth playoff spot in Conference B, two points ahead of Scarlets, with three games left to play.
The run into the end of the season is far from easy for Edinburgh. One may even be inclined to say that playoff aspirations are hopeful rather than likely. They face immediate table rivals Scarlets (fifth) and Ulster (third), before taking on Conference A leaders and Scottish rivals Glasgow away on the final weekend of the domestic season.
Furthermore, there is the colossal European hurdle of Munster who come to BT Murrayfield in the Champions Cup next week.
A club steeped in European history, Munster will bring an often-immovable pack to Edinburgh next week and excitement in the backline, with the likes of Joey Carbury and Keith Earls.
This will be an exceptionally difficult task for Edinburgh, however they have recently taken one giant Irish scalp and the Murrayfield faithful will be confident of baying their team to victory in the European Cup Quarter-Final.
The wider picture suggests promise for Scottish rugby. Despite an underwhelming Six Nations Championship, save for the final day heroics against England, the domestic scene reveals a far lighter outlook.
Scotland’s two premier teams are fighting for both domestic playoffs and European glory. Glasgow will not be heading to Saracens in their own European Quarter-Final to roll over and accept secondary status to one of England’s top teams. Likewise, a home Quarter-Final is often promising for any team in Europe, even if Edinburgh’s guests are Munster.
Whatever the outcome, club rugby in Edinburgh and Scotland over the last two months of the season will undoubtedly produce fireworks and sparks of brilliance. Any rugby fan around Edinburgh will surely be chomping at the bit to get down to BT Murrayfield this weekend and see the reds of Scotland clash with the reds of Ireland.
Image: Ben Sutherland via Flickr