RaboDirect Pro12: Edinburgh up to eighth after beating lowly Connacht
Last Updated: 29/11/13 10:20pm
Edinburgh moved up one spot to eighth place in the RaboDirect PRO12 table as they ground out a 43-10 bonus point win over basement side Connacht.
Dougie Fife, man of the match Cornell Du Preez, Nick De Luca and Willem Nel touched down for the home side's tries, while the flawless boot of Greig Laidlaw contributed the remainder of the points.
Connacht paid the price for failing to capitalise on lengthy spells in the ascendancy and had only a Robbie Henshaw touchdown to show for their enterprise, while Dan Parks contributed the other points with the boot on his return to the ground he graced in his 66-cap international career, although he was left ruing two penalty attempts that struck the uprights.
The Irish outfit dominated in the opening minutes but failed to convert pressure on the Edinburgh line into points. The closest they came was when Ronan Loughney was held up over the whitewash by De Luca.
However, Edinburgh were presented with the first scoring opportunity when the visitors strayed in front of the kicker as Parks cleared his lines and Laidlaw banged over the resultant penalty.
Parks squared matters after 11 minutes with a neatly-taken drop goal and then thumped over a touchline conversion after neat interplay between the Connacht centres had stretched the Edinburgh defence before Henshaw celebrated the recent signing of his contract extension when he raced in at the corner.
The visitors continued to enjoy the bulk of the possession but it was Edinburgh who added to their points tally when Laidlaw booted his second penalty, this time a long-range effort awarded for handling in the ruck.
International flanker Ross Rennie was making his presence felt on his return to action following an injury-enforced lay off and was thwarted just short of the line after a move he had instigated with a tackle that produced turnover ball.
And the hosts resorted to the boot of Laidlaw to add a further three points following an offside offence at the breakdown.
Edinburgh were now in the ascendancy but a spilled ball handed Connacht possession and a break from Keiran Marmion switched play to the other end, where it took a last ditch tackle by Du Preez to prevent Mick Kearney from going over.
The hosts ended the half strongly and deep into injury time they took the lead when Fife crashed over after a string of attacks. Laidlaw's conversion left the Scots 16-10 ahead at the break.
Connacht came out strongly after the restart and it took a timely tackle by Fife on Henshaw to prevent a second try for the full back.
Took full advantage
Edinburgh took full advantage of that escape when Laidlaw slotted his fourth penalty of the night before Parks hit a post for the second time - his final contribution as he was replaced shortly afterwards by Craig Ronaldson.
Laidlaw maintained his unblemished performance with another three pointer that extended the lead to 12 points entering the final quarter.
And the hosts produced a stunning finale to clinch the bonus point with three tries in the final eight minutes.
The first of that trio came when Fife was hauled down just shy of the line but the recycled ball was moved wide to Du Preez, who powered over for a score - converted from wide on the right by Laidlaw.
Then the alert De Luca pounced for an interception try as Connacht attempted to run the ball from their own 22.
Laidlaw added the extras then did so again after Harry Leonard had sent Nel thundering over for try number four.
Sat 16th May
Cardiff Blues29 - 5Zebre
Connacht20 - 24Ospreys
Edinburgh23 - 36Leinster
Glasgow Warriors32 - 10Ulster
Munster50 - 27Dragons
Treviso13 - 17Scarlets
Fri 22nd May - Semi-final
Glasgow Warriors0 - 0Ulster
Sat 23rd May - Semi-final
Munster0 - 0Ospreys
RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R9
Leinster ran out 36-19 winners over the Scarlets as they moved into second spot in the RaboDirect PRO12.
A late penalty from Gareth Davies earned Cardiff Blues a hard-fought 26-26 Pro12 draw with Treviso at Stadio Monigo.
Munster claimed their eighth RaboDirect Pro12 win out of nine this season with a battling 18-14 victory over Dragons.