DCSIMG

Connacht 23 - 24 Edinburgh: Dan Parks denied by Edinburgh

Capital gains: Edinburghs No.8 Stuart McInally goes over to score the visitors third try in their narrowest of wins over Connacht in Galway last night. Photographs: David Maher/Sportsfile

Capital gains: Edinburghs No.8 Stuart McInally goes over to score the visitors third try in their narrowest of wins over Connacht in Galway last night. Photographs: David Maher/Sportsfile

  • by JOHN FALLON
 

Dan Parks has tormented many teams with late scores but he could only watch in agony at the Sportsground last night as a late drop goal in front of the posts missed the target.

The former Scottish international seemed poised to snatch victory for a battling Connacht side but he never got hold of the kick from outside the 22 and Edinburgh survived.

It was an agonising finale for the home side as Parks had been outstanding all evening against an Edinburgh side who started with nine current internationals and secured only their second away league win since January thanks to tries from Tim Visser, Matt Scott and Stuart McInally.

But they struggled to impose their superiority on a Connacht side who fought to the end despite a heavy casualty list.

Eric Elwood’s injury-ravaged side needed a positive start but instead they gifted Edinburgh an early try when a promising attack broke down inside the 22 for the Scots to counter and Visser displayed his trademark speed to score his tenth try of the campaign, with Greig Laidlaw’s conversion making it 7-0 after five minutes.

But the Connacht response was excellent and after a Parks crossfield kick forced a lineout when Nick De Luca had to step in touch, the home pack got a great drive going with Jason Harris-Wright getting the touchdown and Parks equalising with the conversion.

Laidlaw responded with a penalty almost immediately and with both teams willing to go wide there was plenty for the crowd to enjoy.

Parks tied the game after 17 minutes with a penalty from 30 metres after a late tackle on Robbie Henshaw by Perry Parker. Connacht, already without 17 injured players, then lost captain Gavin Duffy who limped off after 23 minutes in his first start since a hamstring problem in September.

The tempo of the game dropped after that with both defences on top but Edinburgh edged in front five minutes from the break when Laidlaw chipped inside the 22 for Scott to take the ball at pace and elude the tackle of Parks to score beside the posts. Laidlaw converted to make it 17-10. But Connacht finished the half strongly and Parks’ value to the side was again emphasised three minutes from the break when he landed a difficult 35-metre penalty from the right wing to reduce the deficit to 17-13 at the interval.

Scott should have grabbed a second try ten minutes after the restart but knocked on with the line in sight having done all the hard work, before Parks reduced the deficit to the minimum with a penalty from distance on the right.

Edinburgh looked the more threatening going into the final quarter and Laidlaw created the opening which sent McInally racing through to score 15 minutes from time, with Laidlaw’s conversion making it 24-16.

That suggested Connacht might not even get a bonus point but they set up a gripping finish with a fleeting move from right to left which finished with Danie Poolman sliding over in the left corner.

Parks landed the touchline conversion to leave just a point between them going into the final ten minutes but Connacht just could not conjure a winning score.

They had plenty of possession and had the Edinburgh defence working overtime to keep them at bay as they sprayed the ball in the hope of a match-winning try.

In the end it looked as if Parks would snatch it but he watched in dismay as his effort missed the 
target at the death.

 

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