RaboDirect PRO12: Connacht hold off Edinburgh in thriller
Last Updated: 12/04/13 10:01pm
Mick Kearney: Crossed for Connacht
Connacht produced a 10-minute flourish to see off Edinburgh 32-24 and inflict the Scots' first defeat under the three-match tenure of interim coaches Stevie Scott and Duncan Hodge.
Greig Laidlaw banged over eight penalties for the hosts, while his one-time international colleague Dan Parks contributed four penalties and a drop goal, as well as the conversions of tries by Mick Kearney and Robbie Henshaw. Gavin Duffy weighed in with one penalty.
Parks opened Connacht's account after three minutes with a straightforward penalty from inside the home 22. Within two minutes, Laidlaw booted an equalising three pointer from a similar range.
The home skipper was on target again 10 minutes later, this time from longer range, after an offence at a scrum 35 metres from the Connacht line.
Edinburgh were looking marginally more threatening than the visitors and Tim Visser's first involvement in proceedings yielded two more penalties which Laidlaw steered between the sticks.
The hosts had appeared to be gaining the upper hand, but the momentum swung in the opposite direction in the 33rd minute when Duffy broke clear and sprinted down the left flank then offloaded to Kearney who trotted in for a try.
Parks added the extra two points but was instantly cast in the role of sinner when he offended on the edge of the Connacht 22.
He earned a yellow card for his troubles and Laidlaw gratefully accepted the opportunity to land his fifth kick of the evening.
However, Connacht trimmed the deficit to two points at the interval when Duffy booted an injury time penalty.
With his time in the sin bin over, Parks returned to the fray and kicked two penalties that nudged the Irish outfit into the lead for the first time since the third minute.
Edinburgh responded with a rare sortie into the opposition 22. An offence by Ronan Loughney resulted in the Connacht prop being shown a yellow card and Laidlaw booting penalty number six to bring the Scots back to within a point.
Edinburgh's next attack produced a scrum and they shunted the short-handed Connacht pack to earn another penalty which Laidlaw chipped over to leave the home side with a two point lead entering the final quarter.
The ebb and flow continued and Parks restored a single point advantage with a neatly taken drop goal, only to see that score cancelled out by an eighth penalty from Laidlaw.
With three minutes to play, Edinburgh full back Tom Brown fumbled and, in the disarray that followed, Henshaw plunged over for the second Connacht try.
Parks added the conversion then deprived Edinburgh of the narrow defeat bonus point when he thumped over a long range penalty with the final action of the match.
RaboDirect PRO12 2012/13 Round 19
Ulster will aim to finish at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table when they take on Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill.
Connacht say goodbye to their number seven Johnny O'Connor when they take on Glasgow at the Galway Sportsground.
Paul O'Donohoe's last-minute try salvaged a 23-23 draw for Connacht in Treviso.
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