Edinburgh Rugby vs Connacht , Fri, 04/03/2016 - 19:35

A resilient Edinburgh fought back from a 14-point point half-time deficit to claim a losing bonus point, as league leaders Connacht secured a 28-23 win over the home side at BT Murrayfield.

Connacht were  the dominant of the two sides in the opening 40 minutes, yet Edinburgh came out firing in the second period and closed the deficit to just one point after 68 minutes. 

However, Connacht put themselves out of touching distance with a 73rd minute try to which Edinburgh’s only retort was a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty to salvage the losing bonus-point.

There is now a two-week break in the Guinness PRO12, before for the final five rounds of the league, where, first-up, Edinburgh will meet Dragons at Rodney Parade in another crucial encounter.

 Run of play

 The opening quarter was a dogged affair, with neither side prevailing from the physical battle.

 Connacht came closest to scoring in the 20 minute period as centre Craig Ronaldson struck the post with a penalty attempt after just five minutes, to let Edinburgh off the hook after a period of sustained pressure.

 As the game moved into the second quarter, Connacht began to open up and, after a period of prolonged attacking pressure, the away side grabbed the first try of the match through USA international stand-off AJ MacGinty, with Ronaldson’s conversion giving the Galway men a 7-0 lead after 21 minutes.

 The home side lost one of their key man just minutes later as centre Matt Scott, recalled from his international duties for the game, was carted off with an arm injury, to be replaced by Sam Beard.

 Connacht looked to have extended their lead in the 31st minute as wing Danie Poolman scampered into the corner. However, the action replay showed that Tom Brown’s superb covering tackle was enough to force the ball out of Poolman’s hands, and the referee denied the Galwaymen the five points.

However, advantage was being played at the time and referee Ben Whitehouse brought play back for a collapsed maul, showing lock Anton Bresler a yellow card for the offence to put Edinburgh down to 14-men.

Connacht took immediate advantage of their extra-man, as, from the subsequent penalty of Bresler’s offence, back-row Jake Heenan peeled off the driving lineout maul for the score. Ronaldson again converted to give the away side a 14-0 lead after half-an-hour.

The numbers were evened up on the cusp of half-time as Connacht full-back, Tiernan O’Halloran, joined Bresler in the sin-bin for a high tackle on Hamish Watson, as the flanker darted down the wing.

From the penalty, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne had the chance to get Edinburgh on the scoreboard as the time past the 40-minute mark, yet his first attempt at goal was wide of the target.

Half-time: Edinburgh 0 v 14 Connacht

Head Coach Alan Solomons made one change at the break as the newly re-signed Simon Berghan replaced John Andress at tighthead prop.

It took just three minutes for Edinburgh to initiate their second-half fight-back as centre Chris Dean scored in the corner, following some well-worked phase-play in the middle of the park and a wonderful miss-pass from Damien Hoyland, which found the centre for the try. Hidalgo-Clyne was unable to add the extras.

Connacht gave a quick response to widen the gap once again, as outside centre Bundee Aki punctured the Edinburgh defence for an easy-run in under the sticks. Ronaldson made no mistake with the conversion (5-21).

Edinburgh made further changes to their front-row on 50 minutes as Rory Sutherland was replaced by Allan Dell at loosehead prop.

Edinburgh fought back and Hoyland, the provider for the previous score, was this time the beneficiary as Edinburgh shipped the ball wide from a driving lineout, for the winger to finish the move off with a try in the corner. Making amends for his previous misses, Hidalgo-Clyne slotted the difficult conversion to close the gap once again (12-21).

Having found their spark, Edinburgh started to take control of the game, and grabbed their third try of the match through Cornell Du Preez after 59 minutes. The combative back-row found muscled his way into the corner, after some great initiative in the build-up, in which the Edinburgh back-three launched a counter-attack from a quick throw-in.

Hidalgo-Clyne hit the bar with the conversion attempt, yet slotted a 68th minute penalty to close the gap to one point in favour of the visitors (20-21).

However, the momentum again swung in the direction of the Irishmen as an Edinburgh defensive mishap allowed Connacht to gain good territory and another chance to score from an attacking position as the game drew to a close.

The Irishmen, who had been clinical throughout, took full advantage of their possession as they added a fourth try in the 73rd minute through replacement back-row Eoin McKeon, who picked off the back of a five-metre scrum to batter his way over the line. Ronaldson’s conversion gave Connacht an eight-point lead with five minutes left on the clock.

Despite a spirited effort to grab a fourth try, and snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat, Edinburgh could only manage to secure a losing bonus point as Sam Hidalgo-Clyne slotted a penalty after time to take the final score to 23-28 in favour of Connacht.

Full-time: Edinburgh Rugby 28 v 23 Connacht

Team lineups

Edinburgh Rugby
Connacht

Backs

15 Tiernan O'Halloran
14 Danie Poolman
13 Bundee Aki
12 Craig Ronaldson
11 Matt Healy
10 AJ McGinty
9 Kieran Marmion

Forwards

1 Denis Buckley
2 Tom McCartney
3 Nathan White
4 Quinn Roux
5 Aly Muldowney
6 Sean O'Brien
7 Jake Heenan
8 John Muldoon

Substitutes

16 Dave Hefferman
17 Finlay Bealham
18 Rodney Ah You
19 Danny Qualter
20 Eoin McKeon
21 Caolin Blade
22 Peter Robb
23 Fionn Carr

GUINNESS PRO12 2015/16 table

PosTeamPWLDPts
1Leinster 22166073
2Connacht 22157073
3Glasgow Warriors22147172
4Ulster22148069
5Munster22139063
6Scarlets22148063
7Cardiff Blues221111056
8Ospreys221110155
9Edinburgh Rugby221111054
10Dragons Rugby22418026
11Zebre22517024
12Benetton Treviso22319020