Pro14: Edinburgh 41-14 Connacht: hosts secure bonus-point win to stay top
|Pro14: Edinburgh v Connacht|
|Edinburgh (20) 41|
|Try: Penalty try (2), Berghan, Schoeman, Van der Merwe Con: Hickey (3) Pens: Hickey (2)|
|Connacht (7) 14|
|Try: O'Halloran (2) Con: Carty (2)|
Edinburgh stayed top of Pro14 Conference B with a dominant bonus-point win against Connacht at a sodden Murrayfield.
The hosts raced into a 20-point lead through a penalty try and Simon Berghan's score.
But Connacht reduced the gap to six points as Tiernan O'Halloran crossed twice.
However, Pierre Schoeman, Duhan Van der Merwe and a penalty try secured the win for Edinburgh.
They remain three points clear of Munster and are now 13 points ahead of Connacht, who are fourth in Conference B, as Richard Cockerill's side edge closer to securing a play-off spot.
Powerful Edinburgh secure vital win
As ever, Pro14 matches during Six Nations often fade into the background but their importance on the standings at the end of the season never waiver.
Edinburgh, shorn of 12 Scotland internationals, made light work of the dreadful conditions at Murrayfield as they stormed into a 20-point lead, starting with two Hickey penalties, swiftly followed by the penalty try that was all down to the scintillating running of Matt Scott.
The centre carved open the Connacht defence with a nice step inside and managed to hold off two defenders, only for Carty to prevent him grounding the ball under the sticks.
However, a review judged that Carty had hit the Scotland centre high, reaching over the shoulder to dislodge the ball, which gave Edinburgh the score and earned the visiting fly-half 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
Edinburgh took full advantage as Berghan, released from Scotland duty this week, battered over from close range with Hickey adding the extras.
Undeterred, Connacht had a long spell of pressure and managed to make it a six-point game as O'Halloran barrelled over just before, then eight minutes after, the break with Carty converting both efforts.
But Edinburgh were able to stretch their advantage once more with another close-range effort from Schoeman, as their powerful pack asserted their dominance.
And there was a touch of class about the looping pass from Hickey to Van der Merwe for the crucial bonus-point score, then some more brute force from the South African wing as he smashed past three defenders and fought off an attempt to hold the ball up to score.
There was time for a final flurry of cards and another score, as Edinburgh wing Eroni Sau was sin-binned for a high tackle only to be joined by team-mate Nick Haining and Connacht's Eoghan Masterton after a bout of handbags.
Then Conor Fitzgerald ensured both sides finished with 13 men as he was also shown a yellow card for a slide tackle, before Edinburgh's scrum made their dominance tell by forcing another penalty try to cap a powerful performance.
Edinburgh: Damien Hoyland, Eroni Sau, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Nic Groom (capt); Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse, Simon Berghan, Stan South, Lewis Carmichael, Nick Haining, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Murray McCallum, Dan Winning, Jamie Hodgson, John Barclay, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, George Taylor.
Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga'a, Jarrad Butler (capt).
Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.