Planet Rugby

Edinburgh miss out on maximum

24th October 2008 20:21

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Mike Blair Edinburgh

Form scrum-half: Blair crosses for smart try

Edinburgh followed up their European exploits with a much-needed Magners League victory as they defeated Connacht 27-14 at the Sportsground on Friday.

But Andy Robinson' s men will surely be kicking themselves for not claiming the vital fourth try following crossing three times in the first half.

Connacht paid dearly for a first-half collapse as the Scottish visitors established a 27-0 half-time lead with Scotland full-back Chris Paterson helping himself to seventeen points.

Simon Webster, Paterson and captain Mike Blair all crossed for tries, but they failed to add in the second forty.

Both teams suffered late withdrawals. Connacht had to replace injured prop Robbie Morris with Ronan Loughney, while Ben Gissing was promoted to Edinburgh's second row in place of Jim Hamilton.

Disrupted by a long injury stoppage for Andrew Farley, Connacht could not find their rhythm and Edinburgh quickly seized control.

Their first try had a slice of good fortune about it as a Connacht block-down played Alan MacDonald onside but the flanker made a surging run before the home defence was punctured.

Michael Swift came up out of the defensive line and Simon Webster sniped through the gap to run in behind the posts.

Paterson converted and knocked over a simple 21st-minute penalty to push Robinson's men into a 10-0 lead.

Although Frank Murphy had his moments, Connacht were decidedly flat and gone was the hunger of their most recent league win over Leinster.

Edinburgh chipped over the top in the 26th minute and with Murphy outpaced by Mark Robertson and Paterson, the latter gathered to score.

Paterson converted his try, tagged on a penalty and worse followed for Connacht on the stroke of half-time when their sleepy defence was sliced open again.

This time, scrum-half Blair dummied and burst past Johnny O'Connor and Ian Keatley to touch down close to the posts.

Connacht had targeted this game to help them in their quest for Heineken Cup qualification and they did muster a spirited comeback.

On the hour, centre Gavin Duffy intercepted a pass from Nick De Luca and dashed over from halfway for an inspiring try.

Keatley converted and Connacht pressed on, with replacements Troy Nathan and Andy Dunne slotting in well.

From a quick turnover, Connacht then went from their 22 right to the Edinburgh try-line to poach a second try.

Keatley passed for Dunne to scamper through the Scottish rearguard and although he was hauled down in sight of the line, Fionn Carr angled his run superbly to get over for the score.

Keatley booted the extras to cut the gap to thirteen points but Connacht's revival was ended by a sin-binning for captain John Muldoon, and despite late territory, Edinburgh missed out on what had seemed an inevitable bonus point.

The scorers:

For Connacht:

Tries: Duffy, Carr

Con: Keatley 2

For Edinburgh:

Tries: Webster, Paterson, Blair

Con: Paterson 3

Pen: Paterson 2

Yellow card: Muldoon (Connacht) - 71 minutes

Connacht: 15 Fionn Carr, 14 Aidan Wynne, 13 Gavin Duffy, 12 Mel Deane, 11 John Hearty, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Colm Rigney, 7 Jonny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Andrew Farley, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Robbie Morris, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 John Lyne.

Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Andrew Browne, 19 David Gannon, 20 Kieran Campbell, 21 Andy Dunne, 22 Troy Nathan.

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Mark Robertson, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Simon Webster, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair (c), 8 Allister Hogg, 7 Alan MacDonald, 6 Scott Newlands, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Craig Hamilton, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.

Replacements: (From) Andrew Kelly, Gavin Kerr, Kyle Traynor, Matt Mustchin, Ben Gissing, Simon Cross, Ross Rennie, Greig Laidlaw, David Blair, Hugo Southwell, John Houston.

Referee: James Jones (Wales)

Touch judges: George Clancy (Ireland), Peter Roche (Ireland)

Assessor: John Sheehan (Ireland)

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