RABODIRECT PRO12: Edinburgh 24 Connacht 32
Little to separate the two sides on the league table, and little to separate them on the evening, but in the end it was Connacht who gabbed the victory to extend their lead over Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro 12 table.
For a long time it looked like Greig Laidlaw boot would prevent the Irish province from grabbing their first win in Murrayfield since 2005 and their eighth victory this season, but Connacht wrested control in the last eight minutes and made it count when Robbie Henshaw grabbed his side’s second try in the 77th minute.
Laidlaw made the difference in the opening half, putting his side 15 — 13 in front with five penalty kicks. When Connacht got on the wrong side of the referee, the Scottish outfit capitalised to edge ahead after Parks had opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
Edinburgh continued to let Laidlaw’s kicking do the talking, edging his side 12-3 ahead before Connacht were finally rewarded when Gavin Duffy’s superb break was finished by flanker Mick Kearney, with Parks converting.
Laidlaw bagged his fifth penalty three minutes later when Parks was yellow-carded, but in his absence Duffy struck a superb kick on the stroke of half-time to close the gap to just two points.
Parks returned just in time to put Connacht ahead for the first time in the 48th minute, and when Connacht forced Edinburgh to concede at the breakdown, Parks nudged his side further ahead.
However when Connacht lost prop Ronan Loughney was sinbinned, the home side regained the lead with yet another Laidlaw penalty.
Parks, however, struck a drop goal but, in the nature of this seesawing contest, Laidlaw potted his eighth effort for a 24 — 22 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. Although Parks missed a 71st minute penalty, Connacht struck for the winner through Henshaw in the 77th minute after the home side failed to deal with a kick. Parks added the extras, and an 82nd minute penalty to deny the Scottish side even a losing bonus point.
Scorers for Connacht: Tries: Kearney, Henshaw. Cons: Parks 2. Pens: Parks 4, Duffy. Drop Goals: Parks.
Scorers for Edinburgh: Pens: Laidlaw 8.
CONNACHT: R Henshaw, D Poolman, E Griffin, B Murphy, G Duffy (cpt, D Parks, K Marmion, B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Loughney, M Swift, M McCarthy, M Kearney, J Muldoon, G Naoupu. Replacements: E Reynecke for Flavin (53), F Vainikolo for Griffin (55), R Ah You for Wilkinson (63), A Browne for Kearney (69), M Fifita for Muldoon (71),
EDINBURGH: G Tonks, L Jones, M Scott, B Atiga, T Visser, P Francis, G Laidlaw (cpt), A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, G Gilchrist, S Cox, S McInally, H Watson, N Talei. Replacements: T Brown for Tonks (13), H Leonard for Francis (55), J Yapp for Cross (72).
Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)