Connacht move into URC top eight with convincing win at home

rugby25 March 2023 17:32
By:Wynona Louw

Connacht put in a strong performance to thump Edinburgh 41-26 (HT 20-7) in their United Rugby Championship clash at The Sportsground on Saturday.

The hosts ran in six tries to the visitors' four, and after a solid first-half display, the Irish side - who were without their Grand Slam heroes as they were given a break - moved up the URC ladder after going into the fixture in ninth spot.

With the race to the play-offs heating up with only three rounds of regular-season action remaining, the hosts will be pleased with what they did in Galway as they bagged their fifth win on the trot.

As good as Connacht were, the experienced Edinburgh side also had much to lament.

They made too many mistakes - rather uncharacteristic ones - which made it even easier for the opposition to pounce.

Connacht got right down to business and scored their first try nine minutes in after Cathal Forde finished superbly in the corner after ghosting Connor Boyle and doing well to hold off Blair Kinghorn and Emiliano Boffelli (5-0).

They added a penalty conversion before the end of the first quarter to cap off an excellent start to the game (8-0). But, as the score would suggest, that was only the beginning.

While their first try was a display of flair extraordinnaire, Connacht’s second was all power.

Conor Oliver barged over after the forwards took the ball through the phases for a converted try (15-0).

It took Edinburgh 35 minutes to get on the scoresheet.

Their opening try came after their pack's resolve saw the visitors force Connacht to commit more numbers in an attempt to resist their forward momentum but, with all their defenders sucked in, Lee-Roy Atalifo capitalised on the open space and stretched out for a full-point try (15-7).

While Connacht’s discipline let them down and allowed Edinburgh to make serious strides towards another score just before halftime, the hosts snatched another try through Caolin Blade, who intercepted a wide pass by Kinghorn and paced away to dot down their third try (20-7).

Connacht grabbed their bonus point five minutes into the second stanza after they caught Edinburgh napping on defence (27-7).

While this proved effectively the final blow, the Scottish side breathed life into the game again when they went over a couple of minutes later to cut the margin down to 13 points. The fact that Connacht were shown yellow shortly afterwards would also have given Edinburgh fans some hope that it might not be over yet.

They made use of their numerical advantage as they managed to run in another try (27-19) after enjoying huge momentum, and while Connacht were dealt another blow as they were reduced to 13 men thanks to another yellow in the 55th minute, the home side bounced back with a top try after their skipper sniped down the side of a ruck (34-19).

With 10 minutes to go, Blade completed his hat-trick to go 41-19 up. While Edinburgh managed to get a consolation try, Connacht had done enough to seal the deal in front of their home crowd.

Connacht next take on Cardiff Rugby on April 15, while Edinburgh will go up against Ospreys later in the day.


Connacht - Tries: Forde, Oliver, Blade (3), Butler Conversions: Hawkshaw (2), Daly (2) Penalties: Hawkshaw

Edinburgh - Tries: Atalifo, Mata, Young, Kinghorn Conversions: Boffelli (2), Konghorn