Edinburgh snatch late win in Scotland

11 November 2023

Edinburgh snatch late win in Scotland

Edinburgh 25, Connacht 22

Connacht suffered last-play heartbreak as they went down to their first defeat of the BKT URC season on a bitterly cold Edinburgh night.

But they can take huge heart from the way a side showing eight changes produced such a stirring display, with their losing bonus point being the very least they deserved.

Having defeated the Ospreys, Glasgow and Ulster in Galway to top the table after Round 3, they looked on course to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign when flanker Cian Prendergast forced his way over five minutes from time, with JJ Hanrahan converting to level the scores.

But in the very last minute, former Munster fly-half Ben Healy landed a drop goal to snatch back the spoils to the delight of the home fans inside the Hive Stadium.

It was tough on Connacht who had refused to lie down and just kept on fighting, with full-back Tiernan O’Halloran and lock Joe Joyce also crossing in the second half.

The game had started in less than promising fashion for them when they conceded a try in just the fifth minute.

Edinburgh scrum-half Charlie Shiel was the key man at both the start and finish of the move, ripping the ball away in contact midway inside his own half to set things in motion and then popping up again to send former Hurricanes winger Wes Goosen speeding in at the corner.

Connacht had to be on their mettle defensively to prevent the hosts adding further first-half scores, with Daly and lock Niall Murray both pulling off last-ditch try-saving tackles.

But they stuck in there and reduced the interval deficit to 7-3, with skipper Jack Carty slotting a penalty after opposing prop Javan Sebastian failed to enter through the back door of a ruck.

They were forced into a change early in the second half, when winger John Porch was wheeled off after suffering a leg injury in an aerial collision which meant an introduction for David Hawkshaw.

Edinburgh then extended their lead through another counter-attacking try from deep, with Blair Kinghorn feeding Duhan van der Merwe who exploded away down the left before giving the inside scoring pass to replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacott.

But courageous Connacht swiftly responded as full-back O’Halloran marked his 225th appearance for the province by nipping over between the posts after a passage of patient probing which had seen backs and forwards combine through several phases to take play right up to the whitewash.

That converted score came at a further cost for Edinburgh with Scotland’s Pierre Schoemann being yellow carded for head on head contact on opposing prop Jack Aungier in the build-up.

Connacht capitalised on their extra man just before the hour mark when replacement lock Joyce skittled two defenders out of his way as he ploughed over.

The pendulum swung again 14 minutes from time when Vellacott took a quick tap and fed centre Mark Bennett who stepped inside to the line to stretch the hosts’ lead ahead of the dramatic finale.

Connacht now head out to South Africa for back-to-back games away to the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Durban and the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria.

Edinburgh: Tries - Goosen, Vellacott, Bennett; cons - Healy (2); pen - Healy; drop goal - Healy.
Connacht: Tries - O’Halloran, Joyce, Prendergast; cons - Carty, Hanrahan; pen - Carty.