Pro12: Edinburgh 23-28 Connacht

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland
Edinburgh's Chris Dean battles with Connacht's Craig Ronaldson
Connacht were well worth their victory at Murrayfield
Edinburgh (0) 23
Tries: Dean, Hoyland, Du Preez Con: Hidalgo-Clyne Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne (2)
Connacht (14) 28
Tries: McGinty, Heenan, Aki, McKeon Con: Ronaldson (3), MacGinty

Edinburgh lost ground on the top teams in the Pro12 with a 28-23 loss to leaders Connacht at Murrayfield.

Alan Solomons' team had not been at the races in the first half and trailed 14-0 at the break, AJ MacGinty and Jake Heenan scoring for Connacht.

But the hosts stormed back with tries for Chris Dean, Damian Hoyland and Cornel du Preez.

Connacht scored a third try, however, through Bundee Aki before their substitute Eoin McKeon blasted over.

The score gave Connacht a bonus-point win; for Edinburgh, there was the small consolation of a losing bonus point when Sam Hidalgo-Clyne put over a penalty with the last kick.

The visitors owned the first half, the only wonder being that they did not turn around at the break with a greater advantage than 14-0.

They scored their first, richly deserved, try just after the first quarter when a sustained battering of the Edinburgh line led to MacGinty going over.

Craig Ronaldson, Connacht's inside centre, put over the conversion and the visitors were on their way.

The hosts could not get anything going. Their scrum was a beaten docket, their possession and territory non-existent.

Connacht, as befitted their status as Pro12 front-runners, were precise and dynamic.

Edinburgh's stout defence could not hold out. The line-out maul was a useful tool for Pat Lam's team and, in the space of a few minutes just after the half-hour, it caused the home side huge damage.

Connacht's Aj MacGinty tackles Edinburgh's Phil Burleigh
Connacht's Aj MacGinty (left) scored the first try for the visitors

Firstly, they lost Anton Bresler to the bin when he dropped a Connacht maul. Then Connacht regrouped and mauled again, Heenan, their open-side, peeling away to score.

Again, Ronaldson converted for a 14-0 lead. The only succour for Edinburgh was the sin-binning of Tiernan O'Halloran, the Connacht full-back, for a high tackle on half-time.

This was the third game in a row in which Edinburgh had been outplayed in the opening half. In the other two - both against the Scarlets - they rallied in the second half and that trend continued at Murrayfield.

Hoyland's terrific long-range left-handed pass was the key play. It fell into Dean's hands and the centre had a straightforward job of going over in the corner.

Having missed a difficult penalty at the tail-end of the first half, Hidalgo-Clyne missed the conversion, another tester.

Connacht hardly batted an eyelid. Two minutes later, they suckered Edinburgh when Aki strolled around the side of a ruck inside the hosts' 22 and found a huge gap, which he went through with ease.

Ronaldson converted again. The maddening thing for the hosts was not just the soft concession but the fact it happened while Connacht were still playing with 14 men.

Edinburgh stirred once more. Blair Kinghorn released the excellent Hoyland for Edinburgh's second try - converted by Hidalgo-Clyne - and then, right on the hour, Du Preez, who came alive in the second half, finished brilliantly in the corner for their third.

Hidalgo-Clyne hit the crossbar with the conversion to leave it at 21-17 to Connacht. The gap narrowed further when driving work from Allan Dell helped win Edinburgh a penalty, put over by Hidalgo-Clyne.

It was now, thrillingly, a one-point game, 21-20 to the visitors. Not for long.

McKeon's bullocking run was too much for Edinburgh. It won the match and may have done serious harm to Edinburgh's prospects of a top-four finish.


Edinburgh: Kinghorn, Hoyland, Dean, Scott, Brown, Burleigh, Hidalgo-Clyne, Sutherland, Cochrane, Andress, Bresler, B. Toolis, Ritchie, Watson, Du Preez.

Replacements: Beard for Scott (23), Dell for Sutherland (48), Berghan for Andress (41), A. Toolis for Bresler (67). Not Used: Turner, Bradbury, Kennedy, Fife.

Sin Bin: Bresler (31).

Connacht: O'Halloran, Poolman, Aki, Ronaldson, Healy, MacGinty, Marmion, Buckley, McCartney, White, Roux, Muldowney, O'Brien, Heenan, Muldoon, Ah You.

Replacements: Blade for Marmion (61), Heffernan for McCartney (74), Ah You for White (41), Qualter for Roux (60), McKeon for O'Brien (68), Bealham for Ah You (67). Not Used: Robb, Carr.

Sin Bin: O'Halloran (40).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)