Ben Healy identifies Edinburgh’s key trait amid match-winning moment and gives view on Ali Price signing
The Edinburgh stand-off was calmness personified as he slotted the ball over with the last kick of the game to give his side a 25-22 victory at Hive Stadium. It was a dramatic conclusion to a thrilling match and means Edinburgh have three wins from four in the United Rugby Championship. None of them came easily and Healy thinks it highlights the durability of a squad which has the potential to do so much more.
“Over the last four weeks we have shown how resilient we are,” said the classy stand-off who joined the club after the World Cup following a long association with Munster. “We are far from perfect, definitely, but the resilience is there and that is the main thing. We can keep building. We don't need to be peaking yet but we are three from four and we don’t need to peak until the play-offs.”
Edinburgh finished a lowly 12th last season and although there is a long way to go, Saturday’s win lifted them into the top eight and felt like a significant moment in the side’s development under Sean Everitt. The new coach grumbled slightly afterwards about the decision to go for the drop goal when they had a penalty advantage. Everitt felt his team could have gone for a fourth try and nicked a bonus point, knowing they would have one final play to fall back on should it not come off. That grouse aside, he was pleased they demonstrated an ability to win in a tight situation against a side who reached the semi-finals of this competition last season.
Connacht may have been missing their World Cup trio of Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen and Finlay Bealham but they matched Edinburgh score for score and looked to have snatched a late draw when Cian Prendergast touched down in the 76th minute and JJ Hanrahan’s conversion made it 22-22. Step forward the unflappable Healy.
“I knew there were four minutes left and I kept saying to the boys that we’d get a chance,” said Healy. “I can’t remember my last drop goal. I had to get that one as I tried three against the Dragons [in the first game of the season] and missed them all so the lads were giving me a hard time, slagging me, but I got the one that mattered.”
Edinburgh had led from the fourth minute, when the impressive Wes Goosen ran in a fine try, until the 76th, when Connacht drew level, but they were never able to shake off their Irish visitors. Ben Vellacott made a significant contribution when he replaced Charlie Shiel early in the second half, scoring one try and setting up another for Mark Bennett, but Connacht scored three of their own through Tiernan O’Halloran, Joe Joyce and then Prendergast.
Vellacott, the co-captain, will find his position under threat from new loan signing Ali Price in the coming weeks but Healy believes the competition will only make Edinburgh stronger. “He will fit in really well,” Healy said of Price. “He is a great squad man and obviously I was with him in the World Cup and last year’s Six Nations so there should be a good link there but we have loads of good nines which is great to add to the depth of the squad.”
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Goosen, Vellacott, Bennett. Cons: Healy 2. Pen: Healy. Drop goal: Healy.
Connacht: Tries: O’Halloran, Joyce, Prendergast. Cons: Carty, Hanrahan. Pen: Carty.
Yellow card: Schoeman (Edinburgh, 51min)
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; W Goosen, M Bennett (C Dean 71), J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Healy, C Shiel (B Vellacott 44); P Schoeman (B Venter 60), E Ashman (D Cherry 60), J Sebastian (A Williams 60), G Young (M Sykes 60), G Gilchrist (c), T Dodd (B Muncaster 71), C Boyle (B Venter 53-60), V Mata.
Connacht: T O’Halloran (JJ Hanrahan 61); J Porch (D Hawkshaw 42), B Ralston, T Daly, A Smith; J Carty (c), C Blade (C Reilly 61); P Dooley (J Duggan 56), T McElroy (D Tierney-Martin 60), J Aungier, N Murray, D Murray (J Joyce 56), C Prendergast, C Oliver, S O’Brien.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU).
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