There was no repeat of last year’s eight-try mauling as Connacht kept pace throughout and created the chances to win it at the end.
Connacht coach Eric Elwood said his side lacked composure to make it count when opting for a scrum five metres out with a minute remaining, but insisted it was another positive step for his side nonetheless.
“This has always been a difficult place to come and given the results in the last couple of years, we are taking the positives,” he said. “Considering the number of players we have missing, the young players certainly put their hands up for selection.”
Left wing Brian Tuohy was the hero of the opening half for Connacht, posting two tries on his first return to Magners League action this season. He proved the ultimate finisher as the Irish side demonstrated their willingness to recycle, looking more comfortable and penetrative with ball in hand.
A turnover in their opponents’ 22 provided the platform for the opening score and while Mike McCarthy and Johnny O’Connor initially made the hard yards, quick ball stretched the Edinburgh defence and Tuohy ran in from 10 metres to finish in the corner.
In the bitterly cold conditions, punctuated by continuous light snow flurries, a handful of knock-ons were inevitable, but Connacht continued with their attacking game.
A counterattack involving some slick handling between Gavin Duffy and Ian Keatley set up the second try on 19 minutes, and from Miah Nikora’s well-judged cross field kick, Tuohy did well to claim possession and score.
Nikora was unfortunate to miss both touchline conversions — the second bouncing off the crossbar — but it shook the hosts out of their lethargy and they immediately responded with a penalty from Chris Paterson.
A missed tackle in Connacht’s midfield enabled the veteran full-back to run in for a 32nd-minute try, which he converted. A penalty each from Paterson and then David Blair immediately after the restart put the hosts in front for the first time in the match, before they struck for a second try.
The forwards did the damage with a driving maul, but it was a quick reverse pass from Ben Cairns that enabled Tim Visser to step inside the cover and race clear from 20 metres, though Paterson missed the conversion.
Although Connacht struggled at times in the face of a well-organised defence, they started to make inroads. The reward was three successive penalties from Keatley, which reduced the arrears to 24-19 by the 70th minute.
With Edinburgh captain Roddy Grant then yellow carded, it set up a tense final 10 minutes, but the hosts withstood Connacht’s late rally.
Scorers for Edinburgh: C. Paterson try, con, 3 pens; T. Visser try; D. Blair pen.
Scorers for Connacht: B. Tuohy 2 tries; M Nikora. pen; I. Keatley 2 pens.
EDINBURGH: C. Paterson; J. Thompson, B. Cairns, J. Houston, T. Visser; D. Blair, G. Laidlaw; K. Traynor, A. Kelly, D. Young; C. Hamilton, F. McKenzie; N. Talei, R. Grant (capt), S. McInally.
Replacements: S. Newlands for Talei (37), G. Cross for Young (41), S. Turnbull for Hamilton (66).
CONNACHT: G. Duffy; S. Monahan, E. Griffin, K. Matthews, B. Tuohy; M. Nikora, F. Murphy; B. Wilkinson, D. Murphy, J. Hagan; M. Swift, M. McCarthy; A. Browne, J. O’Connor, J. Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: I. Keatley for Griffin (10), B. Wilkinson for Loughney (14-16), D. Rogers for Hagan (56), T. Nathan for Monahan (59), C. Willis for Murphy (64), B. Upton for Browne (67).
Referee: D Jones (WRU).