Connacht snatch a deserved win with five minutes to go.
Edinburgh’s opening home match of the 2014-15 season in the, newly branded, Guinness PRO12 League was against Connacht. After a short period playing at Meggetland at the end of the 2013-14 season, Edinburgh were back home at, the also newly branded, BT Murrayfield and were hoping to follow up last week’s close victory against Munster with a second win in a row, again against Irish opposition. Alas, in spite of all the new stuff, a try for the visitors with five minutes of play left took the match away from Edinburgh.
Two early penalties from Tom Heathcote put six points on the board for the home side and some fine attacking play kept the Irish side out until the 23rd minute when Darragh Leader pulled three points back for Connacht.
Following a bit of probing rugby from both sides, late on in the half, Edinburgh pushed deep into Connacht’s half and almost broke through the defence a couple of times. However a scrum to Connacht with five minutes left gave the Irishmen the ball and they drove Edinburgh back into their 22 where they won a penalty, which allowed them to draw level at 6-6. Straight from the restart, the home side pushed Connacht back and, on the stroke of half time, the ball finally outran the wide defence and Cornell du Preez charged over in the corner for a try. Heathcote missed with his kick and the teams went in with Edinburgh 12-6 ahead.
The first period of the second half was fairly even, with neither side gaining the upper hand, but Connacht aren’t the large ‘whipping boys’ that they used to be and they started to gain a foothold in the Edinburgh camp. They were rewarded 15 minutes in when a scrum infringement saw WP Nel yellow-carded for the second week in a row, and Leader stick the ball between the posts to bring the score up to 13-9.
A swift repost from Edinburgh lead to a kick into Connacht’s 22 being dropped by winger, Adeolokun. He quickly recovered but the Edinburgh forwards then forced the player and ball over the try line for a 5-metre scrum. The home side won the ball and du Preez broke off the rear of the pack and headed for the line. Unfortunately for the, eventual Man-of-the-Match, his dive for the line was stopped short and the TMO deemed he had dropped the ball. Connacht then cleared their lines with some relief.
Despite losing a man to the bin, Connacht hold on and with five minutes to play, a line-out from a penalty award was gathered in and the forwards proceeded to roll their way over the line for a try. Leader missed the conversion, but the visitors were 14-13 ahead, with three minutes left. Edinburgh threw everything at the Irishmen from the restart, but couldn’t break through to threaten the line. The match ended with another penalty to Connacht and, with the ball booted into the stand, the referee blew his whistle to end another disappointing home match for the Edinburgh team.
Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.