Lam looks up as Connacht do enough

Connacht 11 Edinburgh 7
Results matter more than performances for Connacht as they gave themselves a much-needed fillip in this season’s Pro 12 on Saturday.

Rooted to the bottom of the table and without a win since the Dragons’ visit in December, Connacht did just enough to edge what has traditionally been a close contest with Edinburgh.

Munster’s 36-8 victory over Zebre at Thomond Park consigned the Italians to the bottom, and Lam says Sunday now represents a real opportunity to put daylight between themselves and the Parma outfit.

“We head to Zebre and we have already beaten them three times this season [twice in the Heineken Cup], so realistically, if we do the work and our jobs, there is no reason whey we shouldn’t get the four points and keep climbing the table.”

Two continuing worries for Lam are his side’s poor goal-kicking record, and mounting injuries. Outhalf Craig Ronaldson missed three penalty opportunities and a conversion that could have put daylight between the sides — two hitting the uprights. And up front Jason Harris-Wright and replacement prop Ronan Loughney were both forced to depart with niggles. Yet, with the regular front row of Brett Wilkinson, Nathan White and Sean Henry still unavailable, Denis Buckley and Rodney Ah You fronted up in a pack that once again provided the platform for this victory.

Edinburgh scored their only points in the eighth minute when Nick de Luca capitalised on a midfield turnover before flanker Roddy Grant crashed over from their first foray into the Connacht 22. Out half Carl Bezuidenhout, one of six South Africans in the Scottish XV, converted.

Connacht’s reply came courtesy of a Ronaldson penalty from their dominant scrum.

The turning point came seven minutes after the restart when Connacht opted to kick for touch from a succession of penalties. And with Edinburgh’s No 8 Cornell de Preez binned, the home side took advantage and veteran Michael Swift eventually dived over. With a one-point lead, Connacht maintained the initiative and extended the lead with a Dan Parks’ penalty, which gave them a four-point cushion heading into the final 10 minutes.

CONNACHT: R Henshaw, F Carr, E Griffin, D McSharry, T O’Halloran, C Ronaldson, K Marmion, D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, M Kearney, M Swift, A Browne, J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (50), D Parks for McSharry (52), A Muldowney for Swift (63), R Loughney for Ah You (65), D Leader for Henshaw (68), G Naoupu for Browne (71), R Ah You for Loughney (72).

EDINBURGH: J Cuthbert, D Fife, N de Luca, A Strauss, T Brown, C Bezuidenhout, G Hart, W Blaauw, J Hilterbrand, W Nel, G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen, M Corman (cpt), R Grant, C De Preez.

Replacements: R Ford for Blaauw (32), O Atkins for Westhuizen (63), S Hidalgo-Clyne for Hart and H Leonard for Bezuidenhout (70), T Leonardi for Coman (71).

Referee: C Blessano (Italy).


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