Swift’s try helps Connacht move off bottom of the table
Crucial fillip for Pat Lam’s side in advance of the trip to Zebre next week
Denis Buckley receives his man of the match award from Connacht president Eamonn Feely after the win over Edinburgh at the Sportsground. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Having been rooted to the bottom of the table, Connacht did just enough to edge what have traditionally become close contests with Scottish visitors Edinburgh on Saturday.
Connacht, missing a host of front-line players, produced a dominant second half to claim their third win of the season.
Coach Pat Lam was relieved to see his struggling side leapfrog the Italians as they head into their fourth fixture with Zebre this season.
“The win was massive for us and with what is coming up. We knew it would get us off the bottom of the table and, after last week, that was our target. That box is ticked off and now we have a bit of work to do as we head to Parma again.”
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 frontrow 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 did the damage, capitalising on a midfield turnover before flanker Roddy Grant crashed over from their first foray into the Connacht 22. Outhalf Carl Bezuidenhout converted for a 7-0 lead.
Connacht’s first reply came courtesy of a Ronaldson penalty but, despite five more first-half penalties, the home side failed to add any more points as Edinburgh edged the aerial contest.
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, kept control of the possession, and extended the lead with a Dan Parks’ penalty to give them a four-point cushion heading into the final 10 minutes.