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Connacht Crumble As Edinburgh End Winless Run

jmcconnell 21 Mar 2008

Andy Robinson’s Edinburgh side ended a run of three matches without a win at Murrayfield on Friday as they scored 31 points without reply – including four second half tries – to grind Connacht into submission and move up to third in the Magners League table.

Edinburgh ended a run of two defeats and a draw in all competitions to prosper at a chilly Murrayfield and reclaim third spot in the Magners League.

The Scottish side’s victory owed much to a 20-minute spurt in the second half during which Craig Smith, Hugo Southwell, Allister Hogg and Matt Mustchin all helped themselves to tries.

Still lacking some much-needed firepower in attack, Connacht put up a stubborn resistence and with 30 minutes on the clock, the Irish province led 8-7 thanks to a penalty and try from fly-half Tim Donnelly.

Bidding for their first win on Scottish soil since they beat the now defunct Border Reivers in September 2006, Connacht made a promising start.

An offside decision in the eighth-minute allowed Australian Donnelly to kick the visitors in front. But they lost influential prop Robbie Morris to a yellow card on the quarter-hour when he was pinged for tugging an opponent’s jersey and then offering some back-chat.

Just a minute later, the Edinburgh supporters were toasting their side’s first try when Phil Godman managed to score after a superb maul from his forwards and some poor Connacht tackling.

Godman added the conversion but he blotted his copybook in the 27th-minute when he threw a poor pass which Donnelly intercepted.

The Connacht number 10 was able to exchange passes with Danny Riordan before the latter’s pass out of a tackle from Hugo Southwell put Donnelly in behind the posts.

While that try did edge the league’s basement side back in front, it marked the end of the evening for Donnelly who injured himself when scoring and he had to be replaced by Connemara clubman Troy Nathan.

Nathan, who hails from New Zealand but is Irish-qualified, came on to make his debut for Connacht but only after Riordan’s drop-kicked conversion attempt had come back off an upright.

Connacht’s confidence grew again when Godman missed a subsequent penalty kick and their lineout was causing plenty of problems, with former Ireland Under-20 international Andrew Browne impressing.

However, Edinburgh took a 10-8 advantage into the break when after Simon Webster and Craig Smith had gained decent yardage, Godman stepped up to slam over his first successful penalty.

As Connacht tried to press for a score late in the first half, Edinburgh had a player of their own sin-binned when centre Ben Cairns saw yellow for not rolling away in the tackle.

Edinburgh threatened on the restart with Godman stepping his way into space and only a knock-on prevented Robinson’s men from really getting within range.

A forward pass from Mike Blair allowed Connacht a decent platform off a scrum, close to the Edinburgh 22, but an infringement at the set piece from Morris let the Scots off the hook.

From there on, Edinburgh began to take more control. Cairns came back from the sidelines to field a Godman chip kicka and he linked with John Houston before prop Craig Smith, lurking out on the left, touched down in the corner.

Godman made it a seven-pointer and Edinburgh finally had some breathing space. Connacht were badly stretched in the 60th-minute when passes from Hogg, Webster and Godman inspired a try for full-back Southwell.

Godman converted again for a 24-8 score-line and just five minutes later, Edinburgh had chalked up their bonus point-clinching try.

It fell to flanker and captain Hogg who ran a great line in support of Craig Hamilton and the Scottish international powered over close to the posts.

Godman converted to put 23 points between the sides and another luckless night for Connacht was crowned when a pass from their Ireland-capped full-back Gavin Duffy wss intercepted by Mustchin, five minutes from time, and the former Ulster lock had the gass to make the line from 35 metres out.

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