Sunday 24 September 2017

Connacht hold off late Edinburgh comeback

Edinburgh 19 Connacht 22

Tiernan O'Halloran of Connacht is tackled by Phil Burleigh of Edinburgh Rugby. Photo: Sportsfile
Tiernan O'Halloran of Connacht is tackled by Phil Burleigh of Edinburgh Rugby. Photo: Sportsfile

Alan Lorimer

Connacht returned to winning ways, defeating Edinburgh at Myreside in a match that they appeared to have won comfortably after 50 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 out-half Steve Crosbie and simultaneously by the inaccurate marksmanship of 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 proved costly.

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 Crosbie.

Connact's Bundee Aki makes a break. Photo: Sportsfile
Connact's Bundee Aki makes a break. Photo: Sportsfile

Minutes later Crosbie was on target with an audacious attempt from the halfway line to put his side 6-0 ahead, providing the cushion the Westerners 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 McKeon racing in under the posts, leaving Crosbie with an easy conversion.

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

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

Denis Buckley of Connacht in action against Simon Berghan of Edinburgh Rugby. Photo: Sportsfile
Denis Buckley of Connacht in action against Simon Berghan of Edinburgh Rugby. Photo: Sportsfile

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 Tiernan 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 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 fightback 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 Dawai 62).
Ref- D Jones (Wales)

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport