A DEVASTATING display of attacking rugby saw Edinburgh return to winning ways last night after they had lost their three games in the URC. Mike Blair’s team were on the back foot for most of the opening half-hour as Connacht began brightly, but strong defence saw them through that passage of play, and three tries in the last 10 minutes of the half saw them in control by the break. They added five more in the second half, and Emiliano Boffelli, in impeccable form with the boot, converted all eight.
For a team who were missing no fewer than 14 international forwards according to Blair, it was a remarkable performance, especially given their own lacklustre opening spell and Connacht’s domination of that period. The head coach was naturally delighted with what was his team’s biggest league win of the season – marginally bettered by their 66-3 Challenge Cup win over Brive – but he had measured words of criticism for that early lack of control.
“We need to address it,” Blair said of a period in which Connacht went 8-0 ahead and could have had double that score. “I thought Connacht missed a couple of opportunities. Eight-nil you can come back from, but if it had got to 16 or 18 then it would have become difficult, because that would have given them a lot of confidence and momentum.
“We talk about fast starts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean fast rugby – it means smart rugby.” There was smart rugby aplenty after that, however, as Edinburgh began to score at will, delighting Blair with what he called their “ruthless” approach to attack.
A Jack Carty penalty opened the scoring for Connacht a few minutes after Mesu Kunavula was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle, and Peter Sullivan added a try after doing well to scoop a poor pass off the deck. Carty pulled his conversion attempt wide.
Edinburgh needed to hit back quickly, and they did through Boffelli after Glen Young won lineout ball and passed to Blair Kinghorn, who jinked past his man and then fed the winger a few metres out. That score fired new life into the home team, and they scored again two minutes later. Chris Dean was the provider this time, Henry Immelman the finisher. Dave Cherry then marked his 50th appearance by scoring his team’s third try from a lineout drive.
A 21-8 lead at the interval was a remarkable turnaround, but Edinburgh knew there was still a lot of work to be done before the game was in the bag. They began the second half just as assertively as they had ended the first, and within minutes Kinghorn got the bonus-point try after a speedy one-two with No 8 Ben Muncaster. Ramiro Moyano scored the fifth, with Kinghorn providing the scoring pass with an overhand offload.
When Immelman scored again from a floated pass by Dean there were still 20 minutes to play. There was little or no life left in Connacht by that time, however, and they conceded again less than 10 minutes later when Young finished off from close range. Boff con.
Edinburgh academy prospects Rudi Brown and Jamie Campbell came on for their debuts late on, and replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacott completed the scoring five minutes from time with a fine solo run through the middle.