A FIRST-HALF display by Edinburgh that briefly threatened to trouble the undefeated league leaders was succeeded by a sub-par second 40 last night. The outcome, inevitably, was a seventh defeat in eight league outings – and a result that further jeopardises the capital club’s hopes of reaching the URC play-offs.

A try minutes from time by Sam Skinner at least secured a bonus point, the other touchdowns having come from Emiliano Boffelli with two and Boan Venter. But with only three regular-season games to go, solitary bonus points and decent first halves are well short of what Mike Blair’s team need.

“I was really proud of what we put on the pitch in the first half,” the head coach said after a result that saw his team drop to 12th in the 16-team table.

“In the second half they [Leinster] got a huge amount of momentum in their attack. They were very efficient at the breakdown and very good coming on to ball.

“They were good, but we need to be better as well. We need to slow the ball down and get bodies in front.

“It may sound strange to say, but there was some gutsy defence in that second half. We got a bonus point, but we are aware that playing at home there is no way we should just be content with a bonus point.”

There may have been gutsy defence, but there was also inaccurate defence, insufficient defence, and perhaps – at least once the game had gone – despairing defence.

Although the return from injury of Boffelli and Stuart McInally appeared to provide a real boost to the home team’s morale in the opening half-hour or so, the effervescence on display then was conspicuous by its absence for much of the second half.

This was the team’s first game since Blair announced he was stepping down at the end of the season, and although the overall performance was an improvement on the loss to the Scarlets a fortnight earlier, there is still a feeling that this Edinburgh side have lost their way.

True, they were missing some of their most important players through Scotland duty – including Grant Gilchrist, who is still awaiting the outcome of the disciplinary hearing into his sending-off against France – but they were not alone in that. Leinster had 17 players out on international duty.

It was Boffelli who opened the scoring, from a Ben Vellacott pass after good work by McInally and Marshall Sykes. But the full-back missed the conversion, and that allowed Leinster to take the lead minutes later when Max Deegan shrugged off a Vellacott tackle all too easily to equalise.

Harry Byrne’s conversion put the visitors in front, but that lead did not last long either. An Edinburgh move up the right quickly gained ground, and when the ball came back infield Venter finished off from a couple of metres out. Boffelli was on target this time to make it 12-7, and stretched that lead by three points with a penalty minutes later.

However, Leinster hit back when man-of-the-match Scott Penny plunged over, and they then regained the lead late in the first half when Michael Milne finished off with ease. Byrne’s conversion of the prop’s score made it 21-15 at half time.

Minutes after the restart, the lead extended into double figures when Dave Kearney touched down in the left corner from a crossfield kick. Edinburgh hit back when Boffelli claimed his second try of the evening, but by this time it had become obvious that Leinster were able to score almost at will, and the visitors restored their double-figures advantage when Milne scored his second from close range.

Michael Ala’alatoa and Penny got tries six and seven for the visitors midway through the second period.

But Leinster slackened off after that, and Edinburgh had the last word minutes from time when Skinner touched down and Charlie Savala converted.

Leinster replacement Brian Deeny was sent to the sin-bin for an offence leading up to that try.

Scorers, Edinburgh – Tries: Boffelli 2, Venter, Skinner. Cons: Boffelli, Savala. Pen: Boffelli.

Leinster – Tries: Deegan, Penny 2, Milne 2, Kearney, Ala’alatoa. Cons: Byrne 6.

Edinburgh: E Boffelli (J van der Walt 71); D Hoyland, M Bennett, J Lang, W Goosen (C Dean 32); C Savala, B Vellacott (C Shiel 60); B Venter (J Jack 71), S McInally (D Cherry 53), L Atalifo (E Millar-Mills 53), M Sykes (J Hodgson 60), S Skinner, L Crosbie (captain), H Watson, V Mata (N Haining 18-27, 70).

Leinster: C Frawley (C Tector 69); J Larmour (R Russell 60), L Turner, J Osborne, D Kearney; H Byrne, L McGrath (N McCarthy 60); M Milne (J Boyle 60), J McKee (L Barron 55), M Ala’alatoa (T Clarkson 60), R Molony, J Jenkins (B Deeny 55), R Ruddock (captain, W Connors 55), S Penny, M Deegan.

Referee: C Evans (Wales). Attendance: 7,240.