Thursday 17 August 2017

MacGinty inspires fifth straight victory as Connacht pull away from pursuers

Edinburgh 23 Connacht 28

AJ MacGinty squeezes his way over for a Connacht try against Edinburgh Photo: Sportsfile
AJ MacGinty squeezes his way over for a Connacht try against Edinburgh Photo: Sportsfile
Bundee Aki, Connacht, scores his side's third try Photo: Sportsfile
Quinn Roux, Connacht, wins possession in a lineout Photo: Sportsfile

Alan Lorimer

Nothing succeeds like success as Connacht confirmed by extending their sequence of wins to five with a bonus point victory at Murrayfield last night that stretches their lead at the top of the Pro12 table to six points.

With an outstanding display by out-half AJ MacGinty behind a dominant pack, Connacht fully deserved their win with a performance that blended strong tight play, exciting backline moves and committed defence.

Connacht seized the initiative early on, and missed the chance to go ahead when Craig Ronaldson's penalty hit the upright.

However, the visitors soon put Edinburgh under further pressure, and after a series of drives, the ball was released to Bundee Aki, whose expertly timed pass sent MacGinty crashing over, with Ronaldson converting.

Wing Danie Poolman had a try disallowed by the TMO for a foot in touch, but Edinburgh second-row Anton Bresler had pulled down a maul in the build-up, and he was sin-binned.

Connacht opted for the touchline before setting up a lethal driving maul and a try for Kiwi flanker Jake Heenan, with 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 Scots trailing 14-0 at the break.

However, 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.

Connacht quickly responded when Aki waltzed through the Edinburgh defence as though he was an untouchable to bag Connacht's third try, the trusty Ronaldson adding 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, home No 8 Cornell Du Preez barged over in the left-hand corner. Sadly for Edinburgh, Hidalgo-Clyne's conversion attempt rebounded off the post.

The 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 barged over at the posts from a scrum pick-up for the bonus point, this time MacGinty kicking the conversion.

Then on full-time Edinburgh were awarded a penalty, Hidalgo-Clyne's successful kick allowing the Scots to salvage a bonus point from a game which 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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