The Duncan Hodge era got off to a losing start as Edinburgh tasted a heavy defeat at the hands of champions Connacht in Galway last night .
Flying winger Niyi Adeolokun was central to Edinburgh’s loss to Connacht – their fifth win in the last six meeting between the teams – as the home side picked up their first win of the season to end their own period of panic.
Hodge was taking charge of Edinburgh for the first time in the wake of Alan Solomons’ departure and tries from Grant Gilchrist in the first half and Mike Allen nine minutes from time gave his side a sniff of a losing bonus point, but Jason Tovey was off the mark with his late conversion and Peter Robb ran in a deserved fourth try for the home side a couple of minutes later.
In the first minutes of the game Connacht looked back to their best as they held on to the ball for more than two and a half minutes and ran through 17 phases along the way. But it was their visitors that started the scoring on the night when flanker Jake Heenan was unlucky to be penalised at the breakdown in front of the post, which gave Tovey and easy starter for a 3-0 lead in the sixth minute.
That score triggered the rain to lash down on the Sportsground, which meant handling was tricky and underfoot conditions far from perfect. But that didn’t stop Adeolokun from crossing for the game’s first try on ten minutes.
With the wind swirling Jack Carty was on the mark with the conversion for a 7-3 lead, and he found the target again eight minutes later following an offside infringement to stretch the lead to seven points.
Connacht’s eagerness to attack from deep proved their downfall in the 20th minute when Edinburgh drew level. A fine offload from Quinn Roux to John Muldoon almost stuck down the left wing, but Edinburgh turned over the ball, Damien Hoyland broke down the short side, which eventually saw Gilchrist stretch across the line to score. Tovey’s conversion levelled matters, but that was short lived as Carty made it three from three from wide on the right.
And three minutes from the interval Connacht took a huge step towards their first win of the season with a stunning try, finished off by Roux, for an 18-10 lead at the break.
Irish international scrum-half Kieran Marmion limped off in the second minute of the second half, but his loss didn’t disrupt Connacht’s attacking play and four minutes later they ran in a third try.
Once again it was an offload in the tackle that sprung the Edinburgh cover – this time from Carty – but there was no stopping Cian Kelleher who hared in for his first Connacht try. Allen scored his third try of the season nine minutes from time, but Tovey’s conversion hit the post and, moments later, Robb ran in a deserved try to clinch the bonus point for the home side.