Edinburgh V Connacht
Edinburgh secured their first win of the season after a second-half try on his home debut from Pierre Schoeman proved the difference against a dogged Connacht outfit.
Despite a turgid first-half, in which both sides struggled to grab a hold of the encounter, Richard Cockerill’s side eventually made the initial break through as winger Duhan van der Merwe crossed the whitewash for his first try of the season.
Jaco van der Walt hit a further penalty on half-time to give his side a 10-0 lead, before the capital side accelerated into another gear to begin the second period.
As Schoeman crashed over the try line, Edinburgh held a 17-0 lead and appeared to be in a position to push for bonus-point, however when Connacht’s Niyi Adeolokun slid over in the corner, the match was left in the balance – especially after Jack Carty hit a further penalty to make it a seven-point game.
The visitors pushed for an equalising try in the closing minutes, but Edinburgh’s defence held firm. A powerful last-gasp scrum saw Connacht penalised, much to the relief of the home support as Richard Cockerill’s side closed out the match for the deserved victory.
Speaking following the match, Head Coach Richard Cockerill was left frustrated with his side’s performance, but admitted it was satisfying to get their first of the season in the books.
“We had a mindset to come out and play and be aggressive, kicking to the corners and making sure that we put pressure on them, and I think that worked,” said Cockerill.
“It’s a good win, we take the four points, it’s been a tough start but it doesn’t get any easier as we go to the European Champions next week. But that’s the competition and we just want to go and play and put our best game on the field.
“If we get beat, it’s because we’re not good enough, or we don’t play well enough or the opposition are better than us, simple as that. We’ve just got to keep working hard.
“We’ll go to Leinster, they’re a very strong side, and we’re going to go there with a team that we think can compete.” Added the Head Coach.
“It’s all for us to play for. As you well know, we’re going to go everywhere to try and win. Simple as that.
“We’ve got to keep battling away. You know, six points from three games – it’s not perfect but there have been some tough games.”
The first chance of the evening arrived after only 11 minutes as Jaco van der Walt made an exhilarating break through the Connacht defence. The stand-off – who was a late call-up to the starting XV following Simon Hickey’s injury in warm-ups – fed Matt Scott on the wing, who was only inches away reaching the whitewash.
Edinburgh continued to push, and as Blair Kinghorn grew more influential on the game, so did his side’s attack.
The full-back made an electric break, setting up Hamish Watson for what appeared to be a straightforward try, however the back-row was dragged down only metres from the try-line.
With the ball looking to be slung wide, Connacht captain Jarrad Butler deliberately knocked-on and was sent to the bin only minutes later.
Edinburgh finally made the breakthrough on 27 minutes. With the front-eight gaining the momentum, the ball was fed down the blindside to Van der Merwe who grabbed his first try of the season.
As his compatriot, Van der Walt, nailed a penalty on the stroke of half-time, Edinburgh held a comfortable, but tight lead.
The capital side continued to push in the second-period and whilst Van der Merwe should have had his second score of the evening after brilliant footwork from Kinghorn, the second score of the evening arrived from the impressive home debutant, Schoeman.
As Edinburgh secured the lineout drive, the burly South African showcased his power with an emphatic finish, giving his side a 17-point advantage.
Although Richard Cockerill’s side were made to sweat in the closing stages following Adeolokun’s score, they held on to secure the all-important first win of the new campaign