Connacht 22 - 21 Edinburgh: Lacklustre Edinburgh sink to dispiriting loss

EDINBURGH head coach Rob Moffat was honest in assessing his side's disappointing loss in a "flat performance" in Galway last night.

"We got our just desserts tonight," said a clearly disappointed Moffat after the game. "There are no complaints at all, we were very lacklustre and half-hearted, they started brightly and they should have been further ahead than they were."

Regarding what will now be an increasingly fraught run-in to the play-offs, Moffat added: "Of course we can win our last three games, but we have made life very hard for ourselves. We are desperate to reach the play-offs. We came here tonight and tried to win, and to win well, and we didn't.

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"We always thought it was going to go down to the wire and it will be very, very tight. We are always looking at ourselves, but well done Connacht."

Edinburgh played the opening spell of the game as though all they had to do was take to the field to win. But this was a Connacht team who were defending an unbeaten home record since September 2009, the same month incidentally that Edinburgh recorded their last away win.

Connacht had only narrowly lost to European champions Leinster last week in Dublin and they have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Amlin Cup, Europe's second tier competition, while they are also looking to chase down Ulster to finish the third best Irish team in the Magners League. In short, they are no mugs.

After only 14 minutes Edinburgh were down 11-0, and this almost became 18-0 after 20 minutes when Connacht lock Michael Swift was held up inches short of the line.

Edinburgh were justly penalised by debutant referee Leighton Hodges for a variety of offences in the opening stages of the game and Connacht stand-off Ian Keatley kicked to the corners to keep Edinburgh pinned in their own 22. The Scots were arguably fortunate not to be down to 14 men from the kick-off after Alan Macdonald up-ended Mike McComish in the opening exchange of the match.

Inexplicably, Hodges did not even give a penalty.

Keatley soon got the scoreboard moving with a penalty goal when Roddy Grant failed to roll away in the tackle. The stand-off was then instrumental in the opening try of the game, releasing wing Brian Tuohy to pick a great line running from deep to cross over. Keatley missed the conversion but was on target minutes later with a long-range drop goal.

Edinburgh then invited further pressure on themselves after Jacobsen was adjudged to have pulled the scrum down – and Keatley kicked to the corner again. Edinburgh just survived the resulting series of drives, and Connacht fudged another try-scoring chance when winger Fionn Carr was a little heavy with a hack ahead that ran over the dead ball line.

With only ten minutes to go in the half, Edinburgh had barely ventured into Connacht territory. Now that they did, initiated by a Roddy Grant break, they were clinical with possession and field position. From a Jim Hamilton line-out five metres from the Connacht line, captain Mike Blair passed left to Phil Godman who popped a short ball to Tim Visser, who touched down under the posts without a hand being laid on him. Godman converted.

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Edinburgh then brilliantly turned defence into attack. Visser expertly turned over Troy Nathan in the tackle on the Edinburgh 22. The ball was quickly carried back into the Connacht half in a move where Scott MacLeod showed impressive pace. When Blair was held he managed to find Andrew Kelly who covered a few yards before feeding to wing Mark Robertson who cut inside the trailing defence to score under the posts. Godman converted to give Edinburgh a 14-11 lead at half time.

Edinburgh started the second half well. One rampaging burst down the middle by No8 David Callam should have come to more but for a sloppy off-load. Yet just when it seemed the visitors were going to push further ahead Keatley snapped up a loose Edinburgh pass to run in a try from his own 22, managing to keep the chasing Godman at bay. He missed the difficult conversion from the right touch line but slotted a penalty shortly afterwards to give Connacht a 19-14 lead.

The try and penalty were largely against the run of play and Edinburgh soon re-asserted their dominance with a series of heavy forward drives towards the Connacht line. When these were just held up under the posts Blair fed to Godman who passed inside to Macdonald who plunged over for the try, which Godman converted.

But the visitors could not turn their dominance into more points and, with just four minutes remaining, Connacht sensed the win was there for the taking as the clock wound down. Edinburgh again failed to roll away in the tackle, enabling substitute stand-off Miah Nikora to step up and slot the penalty that gave Connacht the lead and a deserved win.

Scorers: Connacht: Pens: Keatley 2, Nikora. Drop Goal: Keatley. Tries: Keatley, Tuohy.

Edinburgh: Tries: Visser, Robertson, Macdonald. Cons: Godman 3.

Connacht: G Duffy; B Tuohy, T Nathan, A Wynne, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, S Cronin, J Hagan; M Swift, B Upton; M McCarthy, J O'Connor, M McComish. Replacements used: R Loughney, A Browne, M Nikora.

Edinburgh: J Thompson; M Robertson, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser; P Godman, M Blair (captain); A Jacobsen, A Kelly, G Cross, S MacLeod, J Hamilton, A MacDonald, D Callam, R Grant. Replacements used: R Ford, K Traynor, S Turnbull, S Newlands, G Laidlaw, S Webster.