Edinburgh Take Bonus Point Win Against Connacht In An Anything But Regular Murrayfield Friday Night
A win is always a win, especially when you’re fighting to remain at the top end of the Pro14 Conference B table, but it was a rather chaotic end to Edinburgh’s 41-14 win over Connacht at BT Murrayfield on Friday night.
Edinburgh players celebrate their last minute penalty try. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
Edinburgh were able to retain their top of the table spot with a 41-14 win against Connacht in a rain spattered match at BT Murrayfield last night.
It was no try bloodbath – as the score might have you believe – but rather, an impressive utilisation of opportunities that saw Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh men close out the win underneath Murrayfield’s Friday night lights.
“I’m delighted with the win,” Cockerill said following full-time. “I would have been happy with a 3-0 win, given the weather. To get a bonus point was pleasing and a little bit of a surprise, because Connacht are a good side.
“We won’t get too excited with where we are in the table. We’ll just look to keep a lid on things as much as we can and try to keep winning.
“There’s a good vibe around the club. To have that cushion over fourth place is good. It just frees you up a little bit. You’re going to have a bad day at the office at some point, but it’s nice to have the cushion to absorb that.”
It wasn’t the nicest of weather that welcomed players and fans alike to the 7:35pm kick off last night, as the wind blew pesky rain showers throughout the stadium.
Neither team had managed to establish themselves in the match when there was a lengthy halt to play just five minutes in as Connacht’s Finlay Bealham had to be carted from the field. The prop looked to be in a substantial amount of pain having landed awkwardly from a lineout on the far side of the field.
A short while later, Simon Hickey was able to put Edinburgh on the scoreboard with a penalty kick through the posts – it was an impressively accurate kick from the fly-half, given the conditions which forced his scrum-half Nic Groom to hold the ball in place on the tea.
There were handling errors aplenty, from both sides, as the half approached it’s 20 minute mark. Hickey lengthened Edinburgh’s lead with a kick almost 40 metres out once more gliding through the posts to snare the 6-0 lead.
Connacht did have some attacking chances in the Edinburgh 22, but the home defence stood strong and was able to repel the attack. And it was soon Edinburgh that were on the front foot as Matt Scott – having received the pass from Hickey, who had had to spin in on himself to feed Scott – burst through the line.
Scott wove his way past four Connacht defenders, and to the regular viewer, looked to have touched down over the line despite a last ditch defensive attempt from the retreating Jack Carty.
Confusion reigned over Murrayfield, however, as referee Marius Mitrea referred to his TMO for what looked to be a grounding check. When he returned with his decision, he in fact looked to have deemed Carty’s cover tackle as dangerous – his final decision being to yellow card to fly-half and award the score as a penalty try.
Cockerill’s men further extended their lead when a lineout solidly taken by Lewis Carmichael gave hooker Mike Willemse the chance to tear off the back of the maul on his own. The forwards knuckled down on the Connacht line for the repeat short phases, and whoever said backs were the scorers hasn’t seen the Edinburgh forwards go to work on a line.
They battered on Connacht’s defensive door before deciding to simply crash it down as Simon Berghan went over for the try, with Hickey adding the extras to give the prop’s score the full seven point compliment.
Never ones to make things easy for themselves however, Edinburgh were straight into the fire as a bungled restart saw them have to defensively scrummage on their own five metre line.
Connacht ultimately got the last play of the half, as full back Tiernan O’Halloran somehow found himself in amongst some forwards and leapt over for the visitor’s first score. Carty, returned to the field from his sin-binning, kicked the conversion to send the side’s in to the changing rooms.
Just five minutes in to the second 40 minutes, and O’Halloran made his presence known to the home side’s defence once more as he crashed over under the posts with Carty’s boot once more adding the extras.
This would prove to be the last points Connacht saw in the match, whilst Edinburgh continued to rack up their tally. Firstly through Pierre Schoeman, who showed if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as his score was once more a product of the forward’s grunt work on the line. Then, as ever, it was the turn of flying winger Duhan Van Der Merwe to wriggle his way through a defensive tackle to dot down for the score.
These scores allowed Hickey to maintain his perfect record from the boot in the match, but the Kiwi had the record dashed just minutes later as he unfortunately lost his footing on the rain soaked turf, falling over before he could even put boot to ball.
The closing period of play was marred by frustration and cards. Eroni Sau was shown to the sin bin for what was deemed a tip tackle on a Connacht player going up for the high ball. The winger was soon followed by teammate Nick Haining and Eoghan Masterson, both carded for their part in some unfortunate afters on the field – rather ironic given the two forwards left the field shaking hands and laughing/
And finally, Conor Fitzgerald traipsed to the side just a minute before the full 80 having thwarted a Charlie Shiel solo effort run.
In amongst all that disciplinary action, Edinburgh were awarded a second penalty try of the night as Connacht, in frustration and desperation to repel a final attack, brought down a five metre scrum on their line.
Ultimately, it was another tricky and less than pretty match which Cockerill and his side managed to navigate as the light at the end of the tunnel – a place in the play-offs – becomes ever clearer for the Edinburgh side.
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; E Sau, M Bennett, M Scott, D Van Der Merwe; S Hickey, N Groom; P Schoeman, M Willemse, S Berghan, S South, L Carmichael, N Haining, L Crosbie, B Mata. Subs: C Fenton, M McCallum, D Winning, J Hodgson, J Barclay, C Shiel, J Van Der Walt, G Taylor.
Connacht: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, K Godwin, P Robb, J Porch; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, F Bealham, N Murray, J Maksymiw, P Boyle, C Fainga’a, J Butler. Subs: J Murphy, P McAllister, D Robertson-McCoy, E Masterson, E McKeon, C Blade, C Fitzgerald, T Daly.
Referee: Marius Mitrea.
Edinburgh: Tries: Penalty try, Berghan, Schoeman, Van Der Merwe, Penalty try. Cons: Hickey 3. Pens: Hickey 2.
Connacht: Tries: O’Halloran 2. Cons: Carty 2.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): (0-0), (3-0), (6-0), (11-0), (13-0), (18-0), (20-0), (20-5), (20-7) HT (20-12), (20-14), (25-14), (27-14), (32-14), (34-14), (41-14) FT.
Man of the Match: Pierre Schoeman.
Yellow cards (Connacht): Carty, Masterson, Fitzgerald.
Yellow cards (Edinburgh): Sau, Haining.