By Alan Lorimer
Connacht claimed a valuable bonus point with a 74th-minute penalty from outside half Jack Carty after mounting a strong fightback in the last quarter of a match, for the most part, dominated by an Edinburgh side determined to achieve their first PRO14 win after two close defeats on the road.
But in truth, this was a match that exuded caution, neither side playing with the necessary pace and invention necessary to break down defences, though Connacht did improve with the arrival of the Ireland centre Bundee Aki. Impressive, too, was replacement scrum half, Caolin Blade, who helped to inject pace into his side’s game.
Overall though last night’s performance by Connacht at Murrayfield was work in progress for new coach Andy Field.
Edinburgh started well and only out half Jaco van der Welt’s poor pass prevented a try. Scotland flanker Hamish Watson was stopped in front of the posts but in the ensuing play Jarrad Butler earned a sin-binning for ‘slapping’ down the ball in an attempted interception.
From the resulting penalty Edinburgh ran the ball ending with winger Duhan van der Merwe racing in for the game’s first try converted by Van der Welt.
Despite being a player short, Connacht were able to set foot in the Edinburgh 22m area for the first time in the game, all due to a surging run off the tail of the lineout by the visitors’ young back row, Paul Boyle. But hopes of capitalising on the territorial gain were shredded when Connacht turned over ball.
Then after a long period of pressure by Edinburgh Van der Welt kicked a penalty to give his side a 10-0 interval lead.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Van der Merwe was presented with a second try-scoring opportunity but this time the South Africa-born wing fumbled the ball on the line. But when Edinburgh set up a driving maul from a line-out the long-expected try was scored, prop Pierre Schoeman, the scorer, and Van der Welt the provider of the conversion points.
Edinburgh’s armchair ride quickly ended when Connacht showed their attacking prowess that ended with Jack Carty throwing a long pass to Niyi Adeolokun for the wing to score in the corner. Carty showing further skills by adding the conversion goal.
Then after another period of pressure by the visitors Carty kicked a penalty goal to claim the bonus point in the final scoring action of the match.
Scorers for Edinburgh: Tries Van der Merwe, Schoeman Cons Van der Welt (2) Pen Van der Welt
Connacht: Try Adeolokun Con Carty Pen Carty
EDINBURGH: B Kinghorn; D Fife, J Johnstone (J-P Socino 56), M Scott, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (S Kennedy ); P Schoeman (A Dell 63), S McInally (capt), WP Nell (S Berghan 53); B Toolis (F McKenzie 36, G Glichrist; J Ritchie, H Watson, L Hamilton (M Bradbury 53)
CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, K Godwin (B Aki 50), M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion (C Blade 51); C O’Donnell (P McCabe 36), D Heffernan (S Delahunt 46), F Bealham (D Robertson-McCoy 60); G Thornbury, U Dillane (J Cannon 56); S O’Brien (C Faingaa 46), J Butler (capt), P Boyle.
Referee: I Davies (Wales).