Elwood pins hopes on heavyweights

Connacht 23 Edinburgh 24

Five front-line forwards — Mike McCarthy, John Muldoon, Nathan White, George Naoupu and veteran lock Michael Swift — missed Saturday’s Pro 12 defeat to Edinburgh at the Galway Sportsground, and Elwood is praying they will return for the vital European tie.

“We will not know if they will be fully fit until this week, but we are hoping that as every day goes by, we have a chance,” he said. “Certainly we are going to need them because the type of opposition we are playing are very forward oriented and we need our heavyweights back.”

However, Elwood was delighted with the performances of some of the province’s lesser lights against an Edinburgh side boasting nine internationals, pushing them to the bitter end when Connacht out-half Dan Parks missed a drop goal to seal a home win.

Elwood added: “We were under the pump all week with a lot of injuries, but the lads were magnificent. We don’t like losing at home and we had an opportunity to win a home game in the Rabo to push up the table and leapfrog a team or two.

“The young lads did well, but when you make errors and are not clinical, you will get punished. However they all stepped up to the plate, particularly in the forwards, to get so close and have the opportunity to win the game. If they have to step up again next week against Biarritz, I have no doubt they will.”

Edinburgh always had their noses just in front but Danie Poolman’s try and Parks’s conversion put Connacht within striking distance again.

However, after a couple of chances went begging, Parks could not find the target with his late drop goal.

Scorers for Connacht: Tries: Faloon, Poolman. Cons: Parks (2). Pens: Parks (3).

Scorers for Edinburgh: Tries: Visser, Scott, McInally. Cons: Laidlaw (3). Pen: Laidlaw.

CONNACHT: R Henshaw, T O’Halloran, D Poolman, D McSharry, G Duffy (c), D Parks, K Marmion, B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, R Loughney, M Kearney, A Browne, J O’Connor, W Faloon, E McKeon.

Replacements: F Vainikolo for Duffy (23), D Buckley for Wilkinson (55), P O’Donohoe for Marmion (59), JP Cooney for Loughney(66), D Qualter for O’Connor 70).

EDINBURGH: G Tonks, T Brown, N De Luca, M Scott, T Visser, G Laidlaw (c), R Rees, A Jacobsen, A Titterrell, W Nel, P Parker, S Cox, D Denton, R Grant, S McInally.

Replacements: J Yapp for Jacobsen and I van der Westhutzen for Parker (50), C Leck for Rees (59).

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy).

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