Edinburgh pile on the pain for Connacht
Three late tries add gloss to home win as Pat Lam’s side guilty of not taking their chances
Edinburgh 43 Connacht 10
Another tale of missed opportunities for Connacht. In a game that until the 60th minute was well within their grasp, Connacht succumbed to an Edinburgh outfit that made fewer mistakes and took their chances at Murrayfield.
Led by returning international Greig Laidlaw, who kicked 23 points, Edinburgh strolled home in the end to record their first bonus-point win in this season’s RaboDirect Pro 12.
Their worst result for some time, Connacht, still rooted to the bottom of the table, looked a demoralised outfit in the end - nothing like the side that had put Saracens and Leinster to the sword earlier in the season.
And they could have enjoyed a dream start when Dan Parks’s pinpoint penalty kick to touch gave the visitors their first opportunity to attack just five metres out. Mick Kearney, in his first start of the season, was driven over from the lineout, and although referee Leighton Hodges could not see the grounding, Connacht failed to make their positional dominance count in the face of staunch Edinburgh defence.
An offside error from Connacht provided Laidlaw with the first of his five penalties and the Scottish international made no mistake from to open the scoring after nine minutes.
Connacht swiftly responded with an attack into their opponents’ half and Parks took the opportunity to convert a drop goal from 30 metres to level the scores two minutes later. Within minutes Robbie Henshaw, who scored his first try for the province at the venue in last season’s victory, crossed in the corner. It was a well executed passage of play with Matt Healy and Dave McSharry injecting the necessary pace before Jake Heenan, from the floor, supplied Henshaw who finished off before Parks converted from the left touchline.
Edinburgh started to string passages together with influential Nick de Luca picking holes in the cover before the big boys took over. Ross Rennie, in his first start after a long injury stint, came closest, aided and abetted by prop Willem Nel and David Denton, and the net result was two penalties for failing to roll away in the tackle, which Laidlaw kicked to close the gap to 9-10.
Points went abegging when Mick Kearney once again was just shy of the line following another piece of well-executed offloading involving backs and forwards, while Parks’s 34th minute penalty hit the upright.
Crucially, however, Edinburgh made no mistake in finishing off their last attack of the half, taking advantage of two penalties to build up steam before Dougie Fife broke through in the 42nd minute , with Laidlaw adding the extras for a 16 -10 lead.
It did not get any better for Connacht after the break. Good work from Fionn Carr forced the Edinburgh knock-on and from the turnover Henshaw broke through from half way. However, man-of-the-match Cornell de Preez managed the ankle tap just a metre short, and the in-rushing Healy failed to control the pass.
Laidlaw extended Edinburgh’s lead when Connacht, in possession ,were penalised for hands in the ruck, while Parks had another effort from the 22 hit the upright and another Edinburgh penalty followed before Connacht rallied again.
Two penalties to touch were snuffed out by an Edinburgh defence that dominated the breakdown and, as Connacht’s frustrations intensified, it invariably led to mounting mistakes from which Edinburgh capitalised.
They grabbed three tries in the last eight minutes as Connacht fell apart. Du Preez got his name on the scoresheet in the 72nd minute, De Luca and Nel followed, and Laidlaw kept his perfect kicking record intact to move his side up to eighth place.
Connacht: R Henshaw, F Carr, E Griffin D McSharry, M Healy, D Parks, K Marmion, R Loughney, S Henry, N White, M Kearney, C Clarke (cpt), A Muldowney, J Heenan, E McKeoin. Replacements; J Harris-Wright for Henry, D Buckley for Lougheny, R Ah You for White (all 49m), C Ronaldson for Parks (56m),J Muldoon for Muldownet (60m), G Duffy for Duffy (63m), F Murphy for Marmion (65m), M Swift for Kearney (67m).
Edinburgh: G Tonks, D Fife, N De Luca, B Atiga, J Cuthbert, H Leonard, G Laidlaw (cpt), A Dickinson, A Lutui, WP Nel, O Atkins, I van der Westhuizen, C Du Preez, R Rennie, D Denton. Replacements: S Cox for Atkins(51m), R Grant for Rennie (56m), W Blaauw for Dickinson (65m), S Beard for Atiga (67m), J Hilderbrand for Lutui (73m)
Referee: L Hodges (WRFU)