CONNACHT 41-26 EDINBURGH
Connacht made it 5 URC wins in a row – and 9 wins from 12 in all competitions – with an outstanding bonus point win over Edinburgh at The Sportsground this afternoon.
It was a perfect afternoon of rugby at Connacht HQ, with the 6,056 supporters treated to a rare afternoon of sunshine and a six-try display by Andy Friend’s side. The result puts Connacht in pole position for a playoff spot which could be secured at home to Cardiff in 3 weeks’ time.
Without the likes of Mack Hansen, Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham and Bundee Aki, it was a game in which Connacht’s young-guns stood up, with the likes of Cathal Forde, Oran McNulty and Shane Jennings all putting in strong performances.
Connacht went into the break 20-7 in front, which was built on a brilliant defensive performance with Edinburgh dominated possession and territory. A stunning solo effort from Cathal Forde set the tone for the rest of the day, with the Corinthians clubman breaking the Edinburgh defensive line on their 10’ to finish in the corner.
By the end of the 1st quarter Connacht led 15-0, with David Hawkshaw slotting over a penalty and the excellent Conor Oliver powering over for the second of the day. Edinburgh finally broke through for their first score on 33 minutes, but one of the key moments arrived just before half-time. With Edinburgh banging down the door, man-of-the-match Caolin Blade claimed the intercept for a 14 point swing, touching down for try number 3.
Third quarters have proved challenging for Connacht in recent games, so the supporters in attendance would’ve been particularly happy by a try from Jarrad Butler, and Connacht’s bonus, which came just minutes into the second half, stretching the lead to 20 points. However that marked the start of a significant period of dominance for the visitors who scored 12 unanswered points, coupled with two yellow cards for Connacht with Conor Oliver and Oisin Dowling both spending 10 minutes in the bin. Connacht’s defensive performance with those 13 men arguably was the winning of the game, and Oliver’s return came at the same time Edinburgh had a man in the bin themselves, meaning 13 v 15 became 14 v 14.
Blade’s second and third try soon followed, his third the pick of the bunch after brilliant work from Shane Jennings, and the game went beyond doubt.
Results elsewhere capped off a brilliant day for the province, who jump from 9th to 6th place and well in the hunt for both the playoffs and Champions Cup rugby next season with just two games to go.