URC: dramatic finale gives Edinburgh victory over Connacht

Ben Healy drop goal in stoppage time inflicts first defeat of season on Irish province

Ben Healy
Ben Healy scores the winning drop goal for Edinburgh against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 25
Connacht 22

STUART BATHGATE @ Hive Stadium

A THIRD win in four games for Sean Everitt’s Edinburgh also meant a first defeat after three victories for Connacht, who before this round of games had sat proudly atop the URC table.

And as well as being win No 3 for the new ‘senior’ coach, this battling performance was also the third example of the season of a result which Edinburgh would almost certainly have failed to achieve last term. True, they took an early lead and were never behind, but when Connacht pulled it back to 22-22 with minutes to go, the home team’s heads might well have gone down.

Instead, they fought their way back upfield and got into position for Ben Healy to score a dramatic winner with the last kick of the contest – a drop-goal from well inside the 22 and right in front of the posts.


URC: Ospreys v Glasgow: Warriors maul their way to bonus-point victory

Super Series play-off: Ayrshire Bulls recover from first half wobble to defeat Watsonians

Premiership: Hawick edge past Marr in top of table clash


“I’m delighted with the win,” senior coach Everitt said. “I thought the guys were outstanding tonight defensively, although we leaked the three tries. 

“I thought they were really resilient for 80 minutes. We asked for an 80-minute effort this year and they brought it tonight, so I’m very proud of them.

“Ben clicked it over and I think it’s just a great win for us. Because this team now believe they can win in tight situations against top teams.”

Edinburgh went ahead with a superb score after five minutes, started by a Charlie Shiel turnover in midfield. The ball went right, Mark Bennett broke the first line of defence, and then Shiel himself was up in support to lay on the scoring pass for Wes Goosen. Healy added the conversion from close to the right touchline.

The rest of the opening quarter was mainly about Connacht’s attempts to build pressure and open their account, but the home defence denied them, with Pierre Schoeman, celebrating his 100th appearance, being especially noticeable for his maul defence.

While Healy’s intelligent kicking was often required to clear the lines, Edinburgh did have several chances to counter-attack as the match approached the half-hour mark. However, first Healy, then Blair Kinghorn, and then Duhan van der Merwe all slipped on an increasingly tricky surface before they had the chance to initiate anything.

The home side began to gain more territory in the last ten minutes before the break, and both Goosen and Kinghorn briefly threatened to break clear. But Connacht were able to stifle their attempts to add to their team’s lead, and then with half-time approaching opened their account with a Jack Carty penalty after Javan Sebastian had strayed offside. 

Edinburgh had time for one more attack down the left, but just as things began to look promising the ball was lost forward and referee Ben Whitehouse blew for half-time.

 

The second half was barely started when play had to be stopped for an injury to Connacht winger John Porch, who appeared to have fallen awkwardly. He needed on-field treatment before being taken off and replaced by David Hawkshaw.

Soon after play resumed, Edinburgh were awarded a penalty a few metres inside the opposition half. Healy’s kick was long enough, but drifted just to the right of the posts.

Ben Vellacott then came on for Shiel, and made an instant impact. Kinghorn ran back a kick from inside his own half before feeding Van der Merwe, who made ground down the left then cut inside. With the defence closing in, the winger found Vellacott on the inside, and the scrum-half got to the line before any of the remaining three defenders could get a hand on him. This time Healy was on target, adding the two points to put his team 14-3 clear.

That handsome advantage was soon reduced, though, as Tiernan O’Halloran finished off from close range after being fed from the bottom of a ruck. Schoeman was shown a yellow card for head contact in a tackle in the build-up, and Carty added the conversion.

Healy then made no mistake with a penalty from in front of the posts, putting his team seven points clear. But Connacht again hit back rapidly, through replacement lock Joe Joyce. Like Vellacott, Joyce had barely come off the bench when he found himself in the right place to finish off from close range. Carty’s conversion attempt missed.

With 15 minutes left, Edinburgh were awarded a penalty in front of the Connacht posts. The Irish side, expecting the kick, appeared to lose focus for a second. And that allowed Vellacott to take a tap penalty then loop a pass out to Bennett, who touched down in the left corner. Healy’s conversion attempt missed.

Connacht laid siege to the Edinburgh line after that, and with four minutes left Ciaran Prendergast touched down for his team’s third try. JJ Hanrahan’s conversion made it 22 apiece, but then came Healy’s late riposte.

As well as being pleased by Healy’s contribution, Everitt also praised Vellacott, who had missed the previous week’s game for personal reasons.  “Ben was made captain for a reason – he leads by example,” the coach added.

“Coming onto the field as a substitute and pulling that off says something about the confidence that he brings to the team. He was just outstanding tonight in every department, so I’m very happy for him. Unfortunately he missed last week – I think he wanted to prove a point tonight. And with Ali Price arriving there’s great competition for the No 9 jersey now.”

Vellacott added: “It was a bit of a nail-biter towards the end. We want to be an 80-minute team and I think we showed that today. 

“Ali Price’s arrival makes the club better. We want to be competitive in all positions so it will be awesome.”

 

Teams –

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; W Goosen, M Bennett (C Dean 72), J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Healy, C Shiel (B Vellacott 45); P Schoeman (B Venter 61), E Ashman (D Cherry 61), J Sebastian (A Williams 61), G Young (M Sykes 61), G Gilchrist (captain), T Dodd (B Muncaster 72), C Boyle (B Venter 53-60), W Mata.

Connacht: T O’Halloran (J Hanrahan 62); J Porch (D Hawkshaw 42), B Ralston, T Daly, A Smith; J Carty, C Blade (C Reilly 62); P Dooley (J Duggan 57), T McElroy (D Tierney-Martin 61), J Aungier (S Illo 51), N Murray, D Murray (J Joyce 57), C Prendergast, C Oliver (J Butler 62), S O’Brien.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).

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.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3 (h-t) 12-3; 14-3; 14-8; 14-10; 17-10; 17-15; 22-15; 22-20; 22-22; 25-22.

Yellow card –

Edinburgh: Schoeman (51 mins).

Attendance: 6,717.


URC: Ospreys v Glasgow: Warriors maul their way to bonus-point victory

About Stuart Bathgate 1363 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

14 Comments

  1. We are definitely performing way better than last year. My worry is our lack of tries with only 3 teams scoring fewer tries and as a result our BP’s are non existant which will make a huge difference at the end of the season.

  2. Into each life, a little rain must fall.
    While I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s game, Healy (as I commented last season) needs to develop a better running threat,as at this moment it’s well nigh nonexistent. Shiel had a decent half hour last week, but last night, showed exactly why we needed another scrum half.
    Agree with the comments re Ashman and Mata but all the good work was nearly undone by a silly yellow card and an inability to take advantage of numerous visits to the red zone.
    I remain cautiously optimistic but we shouldn’t get too carried away, we’ve all been here before.

    7
    8
  3. Three good tries and I thought we defended really well. A couple of poor moments gave Connacht very easy entry to the 22 for their 2nd and 3rd tries. It should have been a more comfortable win really.

    Other than that there were a few too many aimless kicks for my taste. A more creative team than Connacht might have done more with those.

    But don’t be sad, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. (sorry)

    Big couple of weeks coming up. Let’s hope the lads can keep progressing.

    • Interestingly I think our defence has gone back the way since Callum Macrae left for Benetton . Guess who has lowest points scored against so far this year – yes Benetton . They are the only unbeaten team in league now – will be interesting to see how they go against warriors. Losing Callum was a big blow and there is little doubt in my mind that he was really missed last year.

  4. Loving the desire to get over the winning line. 3 out of 4 wins is a fantastic start to the season. Bonus points might be our achilles heel this year. We had a free play to go for the full 5 but took the drop goal. Can’t fault them too much though, the killer instinct is something we didn’t have last year and they’re finding a way to win. Great crowd as well.

  5. Exactly why Edinburgh signed Healy – does the basics of a good stand-off well:- Kicks well out of hand, top penalty kicker and a winning drop goal. Think we won all our line outs which is not something you can say too often. A lot of good defence although the one area of slight concern is allowing Connacht to get into that last 10m too easily once from a drop straight from the kick-off. When the irish teams get in the last 10m they nearly always score. We didn’t have the same accuracy when we got there.

    The scrum situation is going to be interesting – Shiel played reasonably well except for a couple of box kicks and was good last week, Vellacott comes on and gets MoM. So where does Price feature – is he immediately going to start ahead of them and then there is still Steele to come back. Surely one too many and on a day that Dobie gets injured at Glasgow.

    12
  6. Ashman hits lines with speed like no other (SQ) front row forward, impressive. Velacott obviously benefitting from the fear factor of having more competition, upped tempo as soon as he arrived, and got MoM for playing half the game. Biggest difference in the backs for me was the balance in 10-12-13 that Lang brought. Don’t know if it was just that, but Healy looked so much more assured, and so pleased for him to get the winning DG.

    A great win, now means that no teams are 4 from 4…. Only Benetton undefeated

  7. Hats off to Vellacott. What a great way to respond to the AP situation.
    Masterclass in closing the game down. Can’t see why he couldn’t step up to the National squad.

    13
  8. Tremendous fare.

    Really good game culminating in a impressive win for Edinburgh. Thrilling tries for Vellacott and Gossen. Healy a very professional and calm player, top quality kicker.
    Vellacott changed the game with his quick thinking and effervescence.
    Furthermore need to remember Boffelli Graham Ritchie Crosbie Nel Watson Skinner to come in.
    I thought Ashman had his best game for Edinburgh/ Scotland, solid throwing and barnstorming in the loose.
    Positive signs

    12
  9. Excellent 👍👍

    Good performance bar:

    1) the number of entries to the 22 with no points and
    2) can’t think of a 2 !!!

    • Restarts were awful after scoring.

      Much better performance overall from the previous weeks. Expect the team to only improve with time together under the new coach. Thought Ashman and Mata offered what we missed against Leinster… metres made in the carry & front foot ball. Ashman in particular hit really nice lines at speed.

    • I knew there was a 2) …. Restarts!!!

      Agree with others re standouts … In particularly thought Big Bill had his best game for some time

Comments are closed.