Connacht get act together with first win of the season

Connacht 28, Edinburgh 15: Pat Lam’s Connacht found their top form and avoided the ignominy of becoming the first champions to lose four straight games in defence of their title with a stunning bonus point win at the Sportsground last night.
Connacht get act together with first win of the season

A third try of the season for Niyi Adeolokun and first Connacht tries for Quinn Roux and Cian Kelleher wrapped up the win early in the second-half, while Peter Robb ran in a deserved fourth for the champions.

On a sour note, injuries to Ireland’s Matt Healy (hand) and Kieran Marmion (ankle), and prop Denis Buckley (leg) will be a real concern ahead of games against Ulster and Toulouse in the next fortnight.

For Connacht this was a much improved performance. The passes that went to ground in recent games mostly stuck, while their ability to offload in the tackle sprung the Edinburgh defence on more than one occasion.

After a shaky start to the season Jack Carty had one of his best performances in a Connacht shirt. He kicked well out of the hand and from the tee and laid on to of the first three tries.

An early Jason Tovey penalty and a torrential downpour didn’t deter Connacht, who retained possession really well in the opening minutes. But the conditions didn’t stop Connacht’s flying winger Adeolokun from crossing for the game’s first try after ten minutes.

With the wind swirling Carty was on the mark with the conversion from the right for a 7-3 lead, and he found the target again eight minutes later following an offside infringement to stretch the lead to seven points.

Connacht’s eagerness to attack from deep proved their downfall in the 20th minute when Edinburgh drew level.

A fine offload from Roux to John Muldoon almost stuck down the left wing, but Edinburgh turned over the ball, Damien Hoyland broke down the short side, which saw Grant Gilchrist stretch across the line to score.

And three minutes from the interval Connacht took a huge step towards their first win of the season with a stunning try, finished off by Roux, which gave the home side an 18-10 lead at the break.

Irish international scrum-half Marmion limped off in the second minute of the second-half, but his loss didn’t disrupt Connacht’s attacking play and four minutes later they ran in a third try.

Once again it was an offload in the tackle that sprung the Edinburgh cover – this time from Carty – but there was no stopping Kelleher who hared in for his first Connacht try.

Michael Allen scored his third try of the season nine minutes from time, but Tovey’s conversion hit the post, and moments later Robb ran in a deserved try to clinch the bonus point.

Scorers for Connacht:

Tries: N Adeolokun, Q Roux, C Kelleher, P Robb; Conversions: J Carty (1); Penalties: J Carty (2).

Scorers for Edinburgh:

Tries: G Gilchrist, M Allen; Conversion: J Tovey; Penalties: J Tovey.

Connacht:

T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki, P Robb, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, C Carey; Q Roux, U Dillane; E McKeon, J Heenan, J Muldoon.

Replacements:

C Kelleher for Healy (4), S O’Leary (37-41, blood), C Blade for Marmion (42), F Bealham for Carey (47), J Connolly for McKeon (59), R Loughney for Buckley (68), D Heffernan for McCartney (72), L Stevenson for Dillane (75), S O’Leary for Aki (75).

Edinburgh:

G Bryce; D Hoyland, C Dean, S Rasolea, M Allen; J Tovey, S Kennedy; R Sutherland, R Ford, WP Nel; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; M Bradbury, J Hardie, C Du Preez.

Replacements:

H Watson for Du Preez (21-28, blood & 59), S McInally for Ford (59), A Dell for Sutherland (63), S Hidalgo-Clyne for Kennedy (63), L Carmichael for Gilchrist (79), B Kinghorn for Tovey (80).

Referee:

Nigel Owens (WRU).

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