Friday 21 July 2017

Connacht juggernaut rolls on after gaining a priceless bonus-point win over Edinburgh


Connacht's Phil Burleigh scores a try. Guinness PRO12, Round 17, Edinburgh v Connacht, BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Ross Parker / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's Phil Burleigh scores a try. Guinness PRO12, Round 17, Edinburgh v Connacht, BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Ross Parker / SPORTSFILE

Alan Lorimer

Nothing succeeds like success as Connacht amply confirmed by extending their recent sequence of wins to five with a bonus point victory over Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield tonight that keeps the Galway men at the top of the Guinness Pro12 table.

Connacht,  with an outstanding display by outside half AJ McGinty behind a dominant forward pack that was stronger in the set scrums, fullymerited with a performance that blended strong tight play, exciting backline moves and committed defence.

Connacht looked likely winners in the opening exchanges as Kieran Marmion probed the Edinburgh defence with a clever loop run in midfield, the move resulting in a penalty only for Craig Ronaldson’s kick to hit the up right.

Edinburgh were soon under further pressure after a series of drives by Connacht, the ball was released to Bundee Aki whose expertly times pass gave outside half,  AJ McGinty, his side’s opening try, Ronaldson adding the conversion.

Connacht continued to dominate the game and were unlucky not to add a second try after wing Danie Poolman appeared to have scored in the corner. The television replay however showed that the wing had put a foot in touch just before grounding the ball.

The referee, however, had been alerted to an earlier Edinburgh infringement,  resulting in penalty for Connacht and 10 minutes in the sin-bin for the home side’s Anaton Bresler for collapsing the maul. Connacht opted for the touchline before setting up a lethal driving maul and a try for flanker Jake Heenan, Ronaldson again converting.

Edinburgh had a chance to put points on the board but a missed shot at goal by Sam Hidalgo-Clyne left the capital side trailing 14-0 at the break but three minutes into the second half the home side made amends with an unconverted  try in the corner by centre Chris Dean, facilitated by the absence of the yellow-carded Tiernan o’Halloran.

But any worries about an Edinburgh fightback were quickly dispelled after Aki went through the Edinburgh defence as though he was untouchable to bag Connacht’s third try, the trusty Ronaldson providing the extras.

Edinburgh hit back with a try in the corner by their young winger Damien Hoyland this time converted by Hidalgo-Clyne. Then after another attack inspired by Hoyland , Edinburgh’s number 8 Cornell Du Preez barged over in the left hand corner. Sadly for Edinburgh, Hidalgo-Clyne’s conversion attempt rebounded off the post. 

The Edinburgh scrum half was on target with a 68th minute penalty that reduced Connacht’s lead to just one point. But the home side’s hopes of staging a late fightback suffered a set-back when replacement Eoin McKeon scored under the posts from a scrum pick-up for the bonus point, this time McGinty kicking the conversion.

Then on full time Edinburgh were awarded a penalty goal, Hidalgo-Clyne’s successful kick allowing the Scottish Capital side to take a bonus point from a game which on the night belonged to Connacht. 

Edinburgh – B Cochrane; D Hoyland, C Dean, M Scott (S Beard 23), T Brown; P Burleigh, S Hidalgo-Clyne; R Sutherland (A Dell 48 ), N Cochrane, J Andress (S Berghan 40 ), A Bresler (A Toolis 69), B Toolis, J Ritchie, H Watson, C Du Preez

Connacht – T O’Hallaran; D Poolman, B Aki, C Ronaldson (P Robb 70), M Healy; A J MacGinty, K Marmion (C Blade 69) ; D Buckley, T McCartney (D Hefferman 75), N White (R Ah You 40 ), Q Roux, (D Qualter 68) A Muldowney, S O’Brien (E McKeon 69), , J Heenan, J Muldoon

Ref – B Whitehouse (Wales)

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