Connacht return to winning ways
April 1, 2011
Fion Carr grabbed two tries for Connacht as they returned to winning ways against Edinburgh
© PA Photos
Connacht bounced back from their shock defeat to Aironi with a narrow 27-23 victory over Edinburgh in their Magners League clash at the Sportsground.
Fionn Carr's first-half double, coupled with a penalty try and a second half effort from Gavin Duffy, guided the Irish province to their sixth-successive home win and ensured a valuable bonus point.
Edinburgh, without prop Allan Jacobsen and hooker Ross Ford who are being rested for the remainder of the season, were 22-17 behind at half-time having done very little wrong whilst playing into a blustery wind. Scott Newlands and James King grabbed well-taken tries and Greig Laidlaw mastered the windy conditions to convert both scores, in addition to an early penalty. Driving rain made for a scrappy second half and although Laidlaw added two more penalties, Duffy's 60th-minute try proved crucial for a Johnny O'Connor-inspired Connacht side.
There were barely 30 seconds on the clock when Ray Ofisa fed Carr, a metre out, for the hosts' opening try. Duffy showed early adventure when running a kick back and Carr's support paid off.
Ian Keatley's missed conversion was followed by Laidlaw's first penalty, and David Denton, Esteban Lozada and Fraser McKenzie all carried well for the territory-starved Scots. A tap tackle by centre King on Ofisa prevented a certain try for Connacht midway through the half, and Edinburgh soon bared their teeth in attack.
Nick De Luca, a late addition to the team, broke out of a couple of tackles, Mike Blair raced into the 22 and his long pass had flanker Newlands nipping in at the right corner ahead of the covering Keatley and Mike McCarthy.
Laidlaw added an excellent conversion, which Keatley cancelled out with a penalty, but Nick Scrivener's men moved 17-8 in front on the half-hour mark. King flew through a gap between Troy Nathan and Keith Matthews and had the strength to crash over to the left of the posts for a terrific individual try.
However, Connacht finished the first half on a high with two late tries. A right-wing raid led to a penalty try that saw De Luca sin-binned for tackling Carr before he received the scoring pass. Then a neat backline move involving Nathan and Keatley saw Connacht flood to the right again and Duffy added enough momentum to put Carr over for his second try. Laidlaw opened the scoring after the break for 14-man Edinburgh, clipping over a close-range penalty, but Connacht were winning the collisions and boasted the more reliable set-piece.
Eric Elwood's charges had the lion's share of territory in the third quarter, with Sean Cronin and Keatley threatening in the visitors' 22. It took a clever grubber kick from Keatley to unlock the Edinburgh defence, allowing Duffy to dot down in the left corner. The conversion was missed and a third penalty from Laidlaw set up a tense finish with 12 minutes to go. Play remained in the Connacht half, but a promising run from Edinburgh danger man Tim Visser was snuffed out when Keith Matthews, who was making his 100th appearance for Connacht, won a relieving penalty at the next ruck.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action