Edinburgh put 40 points on Connacht to maintain unbeaten home run

Edinburgh 41 - 14 Connacht

Edinburgh maintained their unbeaten home run in all competitions when they claimed a well-deserved 41-14 Guinness PRO14 bonus-point win over Connacht in tricky conditions at BT Murrayfield.

The result keeps Richard Cockerill’s men at the top of Conference B and on track for a play-off spot.

The hosts recorded penalty tries and touchdowns by Simon Berghan, Pierre Schoeman and Duhan Van Der Merwe, plus three conversions and two penalties from Simon Hickey. For the visitors, Tiernan O’Halloran bagged a double and Jack Carty added both conversions.

Jarred Butler in action. Picture: Sportsfile
Jarred Butler in action. Picture: Sportsfile

A couple of spillages in the opening few minutes offered an insight into the problems created by tricky overhead conditions and the slow start to proceedings continued with a lengthy interruption while Connacht prop Finlay Bealham received treatment before leaving the field.

On the resumption, Edinburgh were handed the first scoring opportunity with a 35-metre penalty, Hickey banging over the kick to open the scoring. A scrum offence 10 minutes later offered the home side a chance to extend the lead and, with the wind at his back, Hickey drilled his effort between the sticks to double the tally.

Connacht had a chance to build some pressure with a penalty that was dispatched into touch close to the home line. However, they failed to secure the subsequent throw and allowed Edinburgh to regain the initiative.

Matt Scott broke from deep and beat five men on his way to the line. There was some doubt over the grounding and the television official confirmed that the Edinburgh centre had failed to touch down. However, he had been thwarted illegally by Carty and the referee awarded a penalty try, sending the Connacht man to the sin bin.

With Carty preparing to return, Edinburgh finally took advantage of their numerical advantage. A penalty booted into touch five metres shy of the whitewash created the platform for a multi-phase attack that ended with Berghan crashing over and Hickey converting.

Connacht finished the half strongly and opted for the scrum from a close-range penalty. Edinburgh managed to repel a series of pick and drive efforts before O’Halloran found a way over, and Carty converted to complete the first-half scoring.

The visitors came close to bagging a second try when Shane Delahunt charged down a clearance kick and was pipped in the race to the line by Damien Hoyland.

Picture: Sportsfile
Picture: Sportsfile

The score was delayed only briefly and another close-range scrum led to an assault on the Edinburgh line that ended with O’Halloran blasting his way over for a second time and Carty again adding the extras to haul Connacht to within a converted try.

However, the responded with a fresh offensive and the hosts gave themselves some breathing space when Schoeman forced his way over between the posts and Hickey again added the extras.

That sparked a chase for a bonus-point try and it came with 14 minutes to play. From a lineout in the Connacht 22, Edinburgh mounted a sustained attack that stretched the visitors’ defence, allowing Hickey to fire out a long pass to Van Der Merwe who went in at the corner.

Hickey maintained his flawless kicking record when he slotted the conversion but posted his first miss shortly afterwards when he slipped on the run-up to a penalty.

Home winger Eroni Sau was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle and he was joined on the sidelines by his team-mate Nick Haining and Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson after they had traded blows. The visitors were then also reduced to 13 after Conor Fitzgerald tripped Charlie Shiel.

However, that had no impact on the final outcome as, by then, Edinburgh had wrapped up the win in style with a second penalty try of the evening.

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