Connacht salvage late bonus point as Edinburgh open account
Andy Friend’s side outmuscled for the first 60 minutes at Murrayfield
Edinburgh’s Hamish Watson and Pierre Schoeman tackle Finlay Bealham of Connach during the Guinness Pro 14 match at Murrayfield. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho
Edinburgh 17 Connacht 10
Connacht, back at the venue which provided the most jubilant scenes three seasons ago with a Pro 12 title, found Murrayfield Stadium less accommodating on Friday night.
It may not prove the most defining game in Connacht’s season, but having been outmuscled by Edinburgh for 60 minutes, they will take some consolation in bagging a late bonus point.
Edinburgh, winning their first Pro14 game this season after two defeats, had taken an early stranglehold in the opening 20 minutes, forcing Connacht on the back foot. Dominating possession and territory, the hosts carved two clear scoring opportunities, but were only held out by some excellent defence from Andy Friend’s side.
However, Richard Cockerill’s side continued to pepper balls behind the Connacht defence, and made it count in the 26th minute when taking advantage of a sinbinning to visiting captain Jarrad Butler. From a penalty at the scrum in front of the posts, they moved the ball wide for left wing Duhan van der Merwe to cross, and outhalf Yaco van der Walt, a late replacement for Simon Hickey, added the extras for a 7-0 lead.
Connacht No 8 Paul Boyle continued where he left off last week, blazing a path through the cover from the a lineout to set up possession inside the 22, but it was an all too brief moment as Connacht turned over possession.
More dynamic at the breakdown and on top in the scrums, Edinburgh continued to force penalties – outhalf Van der Walt adding three points for a 10-0 half-time lead. But the signs were ominous for Connacht when Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman touched down from an unstoppable rolling maul after 55 minutes.
However, Connacht got themselves back in the game with a 62nd-minute try from Niyi Adeolokun, and Jack Carty tacked on the difficult touchline conversion. Finally with some momentum, Connacht added a penalty to bring them within seven, but that was as close as they could get.
Scoring sequence – 26 mins: Van der Merwe try, Van der Walt con 7-0; 40: Van der Walt pen 10-0; HT 10-0. 55: Schoeman try, Van der Walt con 17-0; 61: Adeolokun try, Carty con 17-7; 74: Carty pen 17-10.
EDINBURGH: B Kinghorn; D Fife, J Johnstone, M Scott, D van der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, S McInally, WP Nel; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; J Ritchie, H Watson, L Hamilton.
Replacements: S Berghan for Nel and M Bradbury for Hamilton (both 53 mins), F McKenzie for Toolis and J Pabloe Socino for Johnston (both 56), A Dell for Schoeman (62).
CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, K Godwin, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; C O’Donnell, D Heffernan, F Bealham; G Thornbury, U Dillane; S O’Brien, J Butler, P Boyle.
Replacements: P McCabe for O’Donnell (36 mins), S Delahunt for Delahunt and C Fainga’a for O’Brien (47), B Aki for Godiwn (50), C Blade for Marmion (51), J Canon for Dillane (56), D Roberton-McCoy for Bealham (60).
Referee: I Davies (WRU).