Connacht missed the chance to leapfrog Leinster in going down at home to Edinburgh. The Scots picked up a bonus point, scoring five tries in beating the disappointing Westerners by 35-24.
Following on from their away win over Llanelli, a win over Edinburgh would have given Connacht great momentum in the Celtic League. It wasn’t to be, however, as Edinburgh took out their frustration at last week’s defeat to Leinster on the Westerners.
Edinburgh looked slick and unusually potent through their backline in scoring five tries to earn a bonus point. They had only scored six tries in the league prior to this weekend.
Whereas Edinburgh now have their eye on mid-table respectability, Connacht knocked on the chance to go third in the table with a win here. In fairness to the Scots, they had been better than their results indicated and once again, Connacht caught a team’s backlash.
Brendan Laney’s performance personified the Edinburgh performance. Initially error-prone, he overcooked a punt, blew a restart and was blocked down before finding his feet. He ended the match looking like God, throwing an outrageous dummy before darting in for a try, before showing surprising pace down the line and feeding Webster for a try that closed out the game at 35-17.
It started nicely for Connacht, taking advantage of Edinburgh errors and penalties to lead 9-0 on 18 minutes. Paul Warwick has been impressive with the placed ball all season.
However, Edinburgh got the break they needed when centre Marcus Di Rollo jinked over from close range following pressure from the forwards.
Connacht struck back when Darren Yapp, playing his first game of the season, carved up the middle. Good handling by the forwards resulted in the South African Pieter Myburgh scoring in the left corner.
Edinburgh upped the ante and got the reward for more fluent work just before the interval. Derrick Lee created the space and Blackadder went forth to bag the try. Paterson’s kicking has been as impressive as Warwick’s and he duly landed the convert to equal the scores. Still, there was time for McHugh to land a monster kick as his is wont before the interval.
Edinburgh’s willingness to go wide stretched Connacht in the second half. They keep the ball alive very well, offloading before contact. Allan Jacobsen got his second try in two weeks when he was the beneficiary of a quick lineout. A Derrick Lee knock-on denied them a score before they got a peach. It came from an attacking lineout for Connacht that went astray and from which Edinburgh countered from their 22, ending with Laney’s moment. The bonus point was in the bag after 55 minutes.
Laney then sent Webster in, taking Warwick’s last-man tackle, to see Edinburgh out of sight at 35-17, Paterson landing five from five conversions.
Connacht went back to basics and got some reward when Matt Lacey was rolled over the line with 14 minutes left to offer a faint glimmer. Although Darren Yapp also crossed, the effort was ruled out by referee Hugh Watkins. Replacement centre James Downey made a couple of good midfield breaks and there were a couple of 5m scrums, but Edinburgh held out fairly comfortably.