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Gunners end Connacht’s Heineken hopes

jmcconnell 1 May 2006

Edinburgh Gunners, who had already qualified for next season’s Heineken Cup, ensured that they will be the top Scottish side in the Celtic League for the second time in three seasons with a 22-16 triumph over Connacht at the Sportsground.

For Connacht the defeat not only brought an end to a run five wins in all competitions at the Galway Sportsground but also ended their hopes of making this year’s Heineken Cup qualification play-off.

The hosts, looking for a vast improvement on their 34-3 reverse at Murrayfield in September, took the early initiative and moved ten points clear inside the first ten minutes.

A powerful drive from the Connacht pack led to a penalty in the opening moments that wa slotted over by fly-half Mark McHugh.

Another good forward drive with hooker John Fogarty and No.8 Colm Rigney leading the way set up scrum-half Tom Tierney for the opening try of the game.

McHugh added the difficult conversion to put the home side firmly in control of the contest.

Edinburgh struggled to find their rhythm and a sole penalty from Chris Paterson, after missing an easir attempt earler in the half, just before half-time kept his side in touch.

McHugh restored his side’s advantage just after the break but they were soon down to 14-men when Fogarty was sin-binned for repeatedly killing the ball.

The visitors then rallied when loosehead prop Alasdair Dickinson crossed for a try but again McHugh settled the nerves once again with another penalty.

However, just past the hour mark Edinburgh were awarded a penalty try to which Paterson added the extras to bring the Scottish side to within one point at 16-15.

Sensing the win was there to be had Edinburgh continued to press and although Connacht defended bravely Marcus Di Rollo eventually broke their resolve by darting through a gap for what proved to be the winning try.

Paterson added the conversion to put the seal on the victory.