EDINBURGH produced their highest winning score since the Magners League started with a dominant performance over Connacht at Murrayfield last night.
Last season’s runners-up received a standing ovation from the 3,000 supporters as they followed their opening away victory over Cardiff with a eight-try blitz.
Two in the first half and six in the second completed the haul, with full-back Chris Paterson racking up 27 points. His 100 per cent kicking record contributed 22 points, helping Edinburgh surpass their previous highest score, a 62-0 win over Caerphilly in 2001.
Edinburgh simply ran the show after striding into a 20-6 half-time lead. They may not have it all their own way in the opening 20 minutes, but for Connacht the dam suddenly burst in the second half when they again suffered two critical sin-binnings – first captain John Muldoon and then replacement Mike McCarthy.
The hosts had held the upper hand at half time, courtesy of tries from right wing Mark Robertson and centre Ben Cairns, but few would have expected they would overwhelm Connacht with another six tries.
Connacht had enjoyed a bright start, winning five penalties on the trot, but they struggled to get their hands on the ball for much of the opening 40 minutes.
Aggressive rucking had Edinburgh in trouble early on, with Ian Keatley taking one of two penalty chances that came his way. Referee James Jones lost his patience with the hosts, sending flanker Alan MacDonald to the bin, but during this period Connacht failed to capitalise and Edinburgh racked up 10 points.
From a line-out off the top, right wing Robertson split the crowded midfield and raced through clear from the 10m line, with Paterson adding the extras.
Connacht continued to win the battle on the floor, and Keatley struck a difficult side-line kick superbly to narrow the gap to 7-6 on 11 minutes.
Edinburgh, however, regained the initiative with Phil Godman directing the play, as Paterson’s boot pushed them out to 13-6.
Ben Cairns then claimed a breakaway try that proved the turning point, as the tries came thick and fast in the second half. Paterson got over on 45 minutes, and when Muldoon and McCarthy were sin-binned seven minutes apart, Edinburgh turned the screw.
Robertson, captain Alister Hogg, Alan MacDonald, left wing Andrew Turnbull, and flanker Roddy Grant all got in on the act, with Connacht’s only second-half score coming from a breakaway from Fionn Carr in the 67th minute.
EDINBURGH: C Paterson; M Robertson, B Cairns, J Houston, A Turnbull; P Godman, G Laidlaw; A Jacobsen, A Kelly, G Cross; C Hamilton, S MacLeod; A Macdonald, R Grant, A Hogg (capt).
Replacements: R Ford for Kelly (22), Cross for Traynor (46), M Blair for Laidlaw, N de Luca for Godman, S Jones for Houston (55), S Newlands for Hogg (60), F McKenzie for MacLeod (63).
CONNACHT: G Duffy; B Tuohy, T Nathan, K Matthews, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; R Loughney, S Cronin, J Hagan; A Browne, B Upton; J Muldoon (capt), R Ofisa, M McComish.
Replacements: M McCarthy for McComish (h/t), C O’Loughlin for Murphy, M Nikora for Keatley, J O’Connor for Ofisa (48), A Flavin for Cronin (52), A Wynne for Nathan (58), C Higgins for Loughney (60).
Referee: James Jones (Wales).
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