Connacht get back to winning ways on the road
Steve Crosbie’s penalty taking was key as the western province squeezed past Edinburgh
Connacht’s Steve Crosbie slots over a penalty in their Pro12 clash with Edinburgh. Photo: Craig Watson/Inpho
Edinburgh 19 Connacht 22
Connacht halted a confidence-sapping run of two defeats on the road by beating Edinburgh at Myreside in a match that threatened to slip away from the Galway men after building up a commanding lead.
But overall Connacht deserved their win after putting in a performance that avoided errors and which had enough flair to suggest that the Galway side are back in business.
Edinburgh seemingly were unable to execute even the simplest of moves and, at the end of an first half in which the home side had made life all too easy for the visitors, Connacht had built up a 16-0 lead.
That extended to 22-0 before the end of the third quarter but then Edinburgh, perhaps sensing a mass suicide attempt by their supporters, suddenly started playing rugby, but despite scoring three tries the Scots were unable to bridge the gap.
Edinburgh’s error riddled start and then a missed penalty goal attempt by Duncan Weir did not dent the confidence of the home side who showed skill and panache with a number of attacking moves. But when Connacht replied in kind Edinburgh were penalised for not rolling away allowing outside half Steve Crosbie to register first points for the visitors.
With both sides running the ball and playing with pace and width the game, if not producing a mountain of points, was at least offering more than a smidgeon of excitement. The flow was broken with a penalty attempt by Crosbie, after Kieran Marmion had been tackled in the ruck, the outside half’s successful 50 metre kick giving Connacht a 6-0 lead.
It was the cushion Connacht needed. The Galway men then probed the Edinburgh defence with a snipe by Niyi Adeolokun before Marmion showed soft hands to send Eoin McKean gliding through a narrow gap to score under the posts leaving Crosbie with the easiest of conversions and a 13-0 lead for the visitors.
From the restart Edinburgh won a scrum and in quick succession a penalty but Weir, whose confidence is evaporating by the day, missed the relatively simple kick. By contrast Crosbie made no mistake with his fourth shot at goal, maintaing his unblemished record for the night with his third penalty goal.
Connacht pressed for further points with some excellent fingertip passing but when they turned over ball Edinburgh hoisted the ball in the air, the visitors knocked on and the home side breathed more easily as Dan Jones blew for half time.
Edinburgh’s skill with the blunderbuss aimed at the foot was again in evidence nine minutes into the second half when they gave away a needless penalty at the breakdown, the punishment coming in the form of a fourth penalty goal by Crosbie.
Connacht came close to a second try after a putting together several slick passes only for the stylish O’Halloran to knock on with the line beckoning. It hardly mattered, though. Connacht soon resumed normal service with their trademark passing, an entertaining passage of play ending with yet another penalty and another success off the tee for Crosbie.
Edinburgh finally showed some flair and seemed set to score when Connacht intervened, but illegally according to referee Dan Jones who awarded a penalty try, O’Hallaran’s offside offence in stopping the try earning the full back a yellow card.
Encouraged by this score and enjoying a one-man advantage, Edinburgh suddenly produced the form that has deserted them of late, their pressure producing a try for Scotland flanker Hamish Watson and the conversion by Weir.
The shift in momentum continued as Edinburgh continued to attack, their reward a try in the corner for full back Glenn Bryce, but this time Weir was unable to add the extras with his touchline kick.
With three minutes of the match remaining and three points separating the teams Edinburgh won set-piece possession but reverting to their style of earlier in the game, they misfired in midfield, leaving Connacht winners, but only just.
Edinburgh: Tries: Watson, G Bryce, penalty try; Cons: Weir (2).
Connacht: Tries: McKean; Cons: Crosbie; Pens: Crosbie (5).
EDINBURGH: G Bryce; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, R Scholes; D Weir, N Fowles; M McCallum, R Ford, S Berghan, F McKenzie, B Toolis, V Mata, H Watson, V Fihaki.
Replacements S McInally for Ford 52, D Appiah for McCallum 62 , K Bryce for Berghan 70, G Gilchrist for McKenzie 60, J Ritchie for Mata 62, S Hidalgo-Clyne for Fowles 65, T Brown for Scholes 68 , J Rasolea for Burleigh 60.
CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, B Aki, D Poolman; S Crosbie, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, D Robertson-McCoy, Q Roux, A Browne, E McKeon, J Heenan, J Muldoon.
Replacements S Delahunt for McCartney 50, JP Cooney for Buckley , F Bealham for Robertson-McCoy 45, J Cannon for Roux , N Dawai for Muldoon 62, C Blade for Marmion 60, J Carty for Crosbie 62.
Referee: D Jones (Wales).