Ben Healy drop-goal at the death hands Edinburgh victory over previously unbeaten Connacht

Planet Rugby
Ben Healy on a run.

Ben Healy on a run.

A last-gasp drop-goal from new signing Ben Healy helped Edinburgh claim a 25-22 United Rugby Championship win over previously unbeaten Connacht.

Connacht, looking to win their opening four games of the season for the first time since 2002, battled their way back into the game and seemed to have avoided defeat when Cian Prendergast touched down with three minutes left before JJ Hanrahan’s conversion made it 22-22.

But there was still time for Edinburgh to mount another attack and Healy broke Connacht hearts right at the end as the Scottish side picked up their third win of the United Rugby Championship season and left their opponents nursing a first loss.

Click here for scorers

After an even opening spell at the Hive Stadium, Edinburgh took the lead with a fifth-minute try by Wes Goosen.

Charlie Shiel began the move with a turnover in midfield, the ball went right, Mark Bennett broke the first line of defence, and then Shiel himself was up in support to lay on the scoring pass for the winger, with Healy adding the conversion.

Connacht pressed hard for the bulk of the first quarter after that setback, but they were kept out by a determined home defence in which Pierre Schoeman, celebrating his 100th appearance for Edinburgh, was particularly prominent.

The home side steadily grew into the game towards the closing stages of the first half, but Connacht first stifled their attempts to add to their lead, and then with half-time approaching opened their account with a Jack Carty penalty after Javan Sebastian had offended at the breakdown.

Connacht winger John Porch was taken off injured minutes after the restart, then a Healy penalty went just wide of the posts.

Ben Vellacott then came on for Shiel, and made an instant impact.

Blair Kinghorn ran back a kick from inside his own half before feeding Duhan Van der Merwe, who made ground down the left then found Vellacott on the inside. The scrum-half then reached the line before any of the remaining three defenders could get a hand on him, and Healy added the two points to put his team 14-3 clear.

That lead was soon reduced, though, as Tiernan O’Halloran finished off from close range after being fed from the bottom of a ruck. Schoeman was shown a yellow card for head contact in a tackle in the build-up, and Carty added the conversion.

Healy was then on target with a penalty, but Connacht replacement Joe Joyce touched down to make it 17-15, with Carty missing the chance to level the scores with his conversion attempt.

Edinburgh moved clear again with 15 minutes left when quick thinking by Vellacott from a tap penalty laid on a try for Bennett, although Healy was again off target with the conversion attempt to keep Connacht within seven points.

Connacht laid siege to the Edinburgh line after that, and with four minutes left Prendergast touched down for his team’s third try.

Hanrahan’s conversion made it 22 apiece and appeared to salvage a draw for the visitors, but then up stepped Healy for that dramatic finale.

The teams

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Tom Dodd, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 4 Glen Young, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Chris Dean, 23 Ross McCann

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Byron Ralston, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Andrew Smith, 10 Jack Carty (c), 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Seán O’Brien, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Darragh Murray, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Tadgh McElroy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 JJ Hanrahan

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Mike Davidson (Scotland), Ru Campbell (Scotland)
TMO: Wayne Davies (Wales)

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