Wednesday 26 April 2017

Connacht cling on to beat Edinburgh at Myreside and bounce back from shock defeat in Italy

Edinburgh 19 Connacht 22

Bundee Aki of Connacht makes a break during the Guinness PRO12 Round 19 match between Edinburgh Rugby and Connacht at Myreside in Edinburgh. Photo by Kenny Smith/Sportsfile
Bundee Aki of Connacht makes a break during the Guinness PRO12 Round 19 match between Edinburgh Rugby and Connacht at Myreside in Edinburgh. Photo by Kenny Smith/Sportsfile

Alan Lorimer

Connacht returned to winning ways after defeating Edinburgh at Myreside in a match that the Galway men appeared to have won comfortably after fifty minutes but which almost turned to defeat in the final quarter.

The visitors lost the try count by 3-1 and were saved both by the accurate goal kicking of outside half Steve Crosbie and simultaneously by the inaccurate shots at the posts by his opposite number Duncan Weir.

Edinburgh began the game intent on convincing their supporters that they were not as bad as their abysmal record in the Guinness Pro12 suggests. But despite a high tempo start to the game by the home side, crucial errors merely endorsed what facts of Pro12 life for Edinburgh.

In the event Connacht having resisted well in the opening minutes showed how to win matches with slick handling that won the visitors a penalty, translated into points by out half Steve Crosbie.

Minutes later Crosbie was on target with an audacious attempt at goal from the half way line to put his side 6-0 ahead, providing the cushion the Galway men needed to being to truly express themselves.

And they did. A period of dazzling attacking rugby triggered by wing Niyi Adeolokun was converted into points with a delicate pass from Kieran Marmion that sent flanker Eoin McKean racing in under the posts leaving Crosbie with an easy conversion.

Edinburgh meanwhile were putting on a hapless performance illustrated when Weir, for the second time in the first half  hooked a penalty attempt, his depression deepening when opposite number Crosbie hoofed the ball clean through the posts for his third penalty goal to give Connacht a 16-0 advantage.

Two further penalty goals by Crosbie in the third quarter put Connacht ahead by 22-0 and victory seemed certain as Edinburgh continued to play haplessly.

But then in a dramatic turn of events Edinburgh suddenly found their form and started to play effective rugby, that gave them a penalty try when Tieran O’Halloran stopped the home side from scoring from an offside position for which the full back earned a yellow card.

Weir converted before adding the extras to a try by the Scotland flanker Hamish Watson. Edinburgh were not finished and when Glenn Bryce crashed over in the corner for his side’s third try the momentum had shifted tectonically in Edinburgh’s favour.

But the Scots were unable to add further points leaving Connacht relieved to survive the late attack and happy to have halted the slide.

Edinburgh : G Bryce; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh (J Rasolea , R Scholes; D Weir, N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne ); M McCallum (D Appiah 70), R Ford (S McInally 52), S Berghan (K Bryce 70), F McKenzie (G Gilchrist ), B Toolis, V Mata (J Ritchie 67), H Watson, V Fihaki

Connacht : T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun (J Rowland 72), E Griffin,  B Aki, D Poolman;   S Crosbie (J Carty 62), K Marmion (C Blade 60); D Buckley (JP Cooney 62 ), T McCartney (S Delahunt 50),  D Robertson-McCoy (F Bealham  45),   Q Roux (J Cannon 63), A Browne, E McKeon, J Heenan, J Muldoon (N Dalwii 62)

Referee D Jones (Wales)

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