Home fly-half Simon Hickey kicked two penalties and three conversions, Lewis Crosbie was the pick of the forwards on both sides of the ball but it was Matt Scott who stole this show. His first-half break, that led directly to a penalty try, was the highlight of a match with all too few to shout about. Like a stage magician, the classy centre had the entire crowd all thinking the exact same thing… why isn’t he in Rome?
The visitors bossed the opening exchanges but it was Edinburgh who scored first; an eighth-minute penalty. The remainder of the first quarter was something of a write off as both teams came to terms with a swirling wind and a wet ball. At one point the ball was dropped almost as often as it was caught.
Connacht prop Finlay Bealham’s evening lasted five minutes but the change of player gave Edinburgh an advantage at the set scrum and they milked it to win a second penalty on 23 minutes with the wind helping Hickey’s 43-yard effort clear the crossbar.
The match sparked into life early in the second quarter when Scott lit up the contest with a brilliant solo run. The centre switched with his stand-off just inside the Connacht half and showed great pace and composure to evade one, two, maybe four tacklers, before carrying Jack Carty over the Connacht try line.
The visiting ten had gone dangerously high on Scott and the referee, after lengthy consultation with the TMO, awarded a penalty try which seems a little unfair on Scott, and flashed a yellow card at Carty. It was the last thing that Scott did as he failed a head injury assessment.
Even without him, Edinburgh made the advantage count. An attacking lineout came courtesy of a penalty and after umpteen pick and drives it was Simon Berghan who scored with Hickey doing the needful off the tee.
Edinburgh should have taken a 20-0 lead into the break but an uncharacteristic handling error from Bill Mata gave Connacht high field position and the visitors showed pedigree and patience for full-back Tiernan O’Halloran to burrow over for a late score.
Damien Hoyland had to look smart early in the second half when Nick Groom had a kick charged down but moments later O’Halloran had a brace after the full-back snaffled a bouncing ball under the Edinburgh posts and dived over for the simplest of scores.
With their lead down to six points the next score was important and, much to the relief of the Edinburgh faithful, it went to fan favourite Pierre Schoeman who barrelled his way over the line after a couple of incisive carries by Mata got Edinburgh into the red zone. When the bonus try came on 66 minutes it was Duhan van der Merwe who claimed it after Hickey’s long pass found him in space on the left flank.
A raft of Edinburgh substitutions , a late rammy and two yellow cards, one to each side, did nothing to dampen their momentum and the game ended with a second penalty try; due reward for Edinburgh’s set scrum dominance.