Edinburgh stun Connacht in final play at a sodden Sportsground
Nathan Chamberlain crosses at the last to deny Andy Friend’s side a hard-fought win
Edinburgh celebrate their late winning try against Connacht. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Connacht 14 Edinburgh 15
Edinburgh gave themselves a much-needed Champions Cup lifeline when they snatched victory with an injury-time try at the Galway Sportsground.
In what was a dogged performance in poor conditions, Edinburgh’s young outhalf Nathan Chamberlain was the hero when he dotted down under the posts and converted to give Richard Cockerill’s side the win.
Connacht looked to have survived the final 22 minutes without captain Jarrad Butler who was red-carded for a high challenge, but the concession of two rapid penalties gave Edinburgh a last-gasp chance and they took it well.
For Connacht, having already qualified for Champions Cup rugby, it was was another blow in what has been a poor home season, particularly having looked in control for long periods.
Coach Andy Friend had used the opportunity to blood key Academy players and they produced the ideal start when taking advantage of a penalty to touch before a superb long pass from Kieran Marmion found centre Sean O’Brien who burst through for a try on his first start after five minutes.
Carty added the extras, but they struggled against a hugely physical defence and had nothing more to show for their domination. It provided Edinburgh with real hope as they ranked up their attacking rhythm. Michael Willmese and Pierre Schoeman showed their class bursting through from half way to give life to the Scottish capital cause, as did Chamberlain in his first start, and on 32 minutes they were rewarded when the hugely experienced Magnus Bradbury scored from a forward drive, Chamberlain’s attempted conversion was just wide.
Connacht, with the wind at their back, staged one last attack before the break, and on the second attempt, Shane Delahunt touched down from a maul, with Carty’s conversion giving them a 14-5 lead.
It looked to be enough in a dogged second-half. Although failing to add to the score, Connacht produced some huge tackles, led by Alex Wootton, to keep Edinburgh at bay. Eventually, however with Connacht down to 14 men for the entire final quarter, Edinburgh closed the gap with a 70th minute penalty from Chamberlain before he became the hero for the Scottish side.
Scoring sequence: 4m O’Brien try, Carty con 7-0; 32m Bradbury try 7-5; 40m Delahunt try, Carty con 4-5; HT 14-5; 69m Chamberlain pen 14-8; 80m Chamberlain try and con 14-15.
Connacht: A Wootton; B O’Donnell, S O’Brien, T Daly, M Healy; J Carty, Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, J Aungier; N Murray, G Thornbury; C Prendergast, J Butler (capt), E Masterson. Replacements: J Murphy for Delahunt (60m), J Duggan for Buckley and C Kenny for Aungier (both 54m), A Papali’i for Prendergast (49m), C Blade for Marmion (62m), O McNulty for O’Donnell (66m). Red Card: J Butler 58m
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; J Blain, J Johnstone, G Taylor, E Sau; N Chamberlain, C Shiel; P Schoeman, M Wilmese, L Atalifo; M Bradbury, A Davidson; L Crosbie, A Miller,V Mata. Replacements: B Venter for Schoeman (23m), J Hodgson for Davidson (57m), M Kunavalu for Crosibe (60), H Pyrgos for Shiel (49m), M Bennett for Blain and A Williams for Atalifo (67m).
Referee: Chris Busby.