Edinburgh v Connacht: hosts return to winning ways in style

Nick Haining set to miss Scotland's Six Nations clash against Italy next weekend

Edinburgh's man-of-the-match Henry Immelman dives in for his try against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Edinburgh's man-of-the-match Henry Immelman dives in for his try against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 56

Connacht 8

DAVID BARNES @ The DAM Health Stadium

AFTER a scrappy start, Edinburgh produced a performance full of purpose and vigour to run in eight tries, lifting themselves to third in the United Rugby Championship table behind Glasgow on points difference. They could drop back to fifth if the Warriors (against Scarlets away) and Munster (against Dragons at home) pick up wins tomorrow (Saturday) evening, but they are right back in the battle for a top four finish.

After three away defeats on the bounce, this was a big confidence boost for the capital men heading into their 1872 Cup clash against Warriors at Scotstoun a week on Friday.

There was impressive performances across the park. Full-back Henry Immelman was named man-of-the-match, Emiliano Boffelli scored eight from eight off the tee, including some beauties from the touchline, Blair Kinghorn was a real catalyst at stand-off, Ben Muncaster was a real physical presence at blindside flanker and the pack in general fronted-up, particularly at set-piece time.


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“I didn’t know the exact numbers but Stevie [Lawrie – assistant coach] told me in the technical box that we were missing 14 internationals iun the pack, and I thought we dominated at scrum time,” said satisfied head coach Mike Blair afterwards. “I am delighted with Angus Williams [at tight-head prop] and Courtney Harrison [at loose-head] who have been phenomenal in training recently.

“Ben [Muncaster] is a real power athlete and he stepped up with his carrying today, his intent to make extra yards was really noticeable. It’s brilliant that he’s been able to get this run of games and we have b a few long term injuries in the back-row so there will be more opportunities for him.

“For someone who had had a difficult five, six week period away with Scotland, back with us, away with Scotland, Blair stood up really well and led the team really well.

“I find it strange that people challenge what Blair can do as 10, especially if they’ve watched Edinburgh this season because he’s got a real understanding of where space is and he communicates that. He’s got brilliant soft skills as we saw with his offload to Emiliano for the first try.

“I’m really confident in what we’re try to do with Blair and was really confident that he was going to play well on the night and he did.

“I thought Henry [Immelman] was outstanding. I remember at the start of the season I likened him to Gavin Hastings as he is that sort of big, powerful kind of man who is solid and reliable.

“We’re pleased with our ruthless edge,” he added. “We didn’t just get a few tries, win the game then rest up. We were a lot better converting pressure into points and hopefully the stats will say the same.”

Blair also revealed that Nick Haining is set to miss Scotland’s Six Nations clash against Italy next weekend. “It’s his shoulder, his AC joint,” he explained. “We’re not too sure the length on that but it’ll be weeks rather than months.”

 

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After a frantic start to this contest, Edinburgh lost No 8 Mess Kunavalu to the sin-bin after the Fijian international was wrong footed and stretched out and a desperate arm which caught Connacht scrum-half Caolin Oliver, and the visitors took quick advantage of their numerical advantage with a Jack Carty offside penalty from in front of the posts edging them into a 3-0 lead.

The hosts survived the rest of that period at a numerical disadvantage without conceding any more points, but it was scrappy stuff – which isn’t surprising given how many players were missing through either international commitments or injury. In total 18 front-line Edinburgh players were listed as unavailable for this game, although that includes only four backs.

It wasn’t a great shock when winger Peter O’Sullivan scrambled over on the left after a long period of pressure to stretch Connacht’s lead to eight points with 24 minutes played.

Then, it eventually it clicked for the home side just before the half hour mark, when Kinghorn sent a message to some of those doubting whether he’s got what it takes to be a top-class stand-off with an excellent dummy, jink then offload which sent Emiliano Boffelli scurrying unmarked up the left touchline to score, with the Argentinean winger nailing the tricky conversion for good measure.

Suddenly Edinburgh’s tails were up and they started to play with real purpose and accuracy, scoring again just four minutes later with Chris Dean the creator and Henry Immelman adding the finishing touches this time.

And try number three came with just two minutes of the first half to play when a powerful line-out drive rumbled over the line and hooker Dave Cherry marked his 50th appearance for the club by dotting down.

 

That made it 21-8 at the break, and the capital men came firing out the blocks straight from the restart with Kinghorn taking a central role yet again, sending Ben Muncaster through a yawning gap in the middle of the park with a fine flat pass and then collecting the return to canter under the posts unchallenged.

When another lovely piece of handling from Kinghorn sent Ramiro Moyano in for the home team’s fifth with just 52 minutes played, the rout was on, and it wasn’t long before Boffelli went over on the left for his second try of the night.

Edinburgh cleared their bench, but that didn’t disrupt their momentum, and Glen Young burrowed under the posts to keep the scoreboard ticking over, before Ben Vellacott finished off a Dean break to take Edinburgh past the half century. Boffelli added the conversion to make it eight from eight off the tee.

 

 Teams –

Edinburgh: H Immelman; R Moyano (J van der Walt 61), J Lang (M Currie 61), C Dean, E Boffelli ; B Kinghorn, H Pyrgos (B Vellacott 50); B Venter (H Courtney 63), D Cherry (A McBurney 61), A Williams (L Atalifo 61), P Phillips, G Young (J Campbell 69), B Muncaster, C Boyle, M Kunavula (R Brown 63).

Connacht: J Porch; P Sullivan, S Arnold, T Daly, A Wootton (T Farrell 47); J Carty, C Blade (K Marmion 69); J Duggan (T Tuimauga 50), D Heffernan (S Delahunt 50-69), J Aungier (D Robertson-McCoy 52), O Dowling, L Fifita (N Murray 52, C Oliver 65), C Prendergast, C Oliver, P Boyle (A Papali’I).

Referees: Craig Evans (WRU)

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Try: Boffelli 2, Immelman, Cherry, Kinghorn, Moyano, Young, Vellacott; Con: Boffelli 8.

Connacht: Try: Sullivan; Pen: Carty.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-3; 0-8; 5-8; 7-8; 12-8; 14-8; 19-8; 21-8 (h-t) 26-8; 28-8; 33-87; 35-8; 40-8; 42-8; 47-8; 49-8.

 

Yellow cards –

Edinburgh: Kunavula (7 mins)


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About David Barnes 3043 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

13 Comments

  1. And there is the nub, an impressive display by all 8 forwards, and Kinghorn used this to his advantage, plenty space to play, I’ve been a critic but credit to him for taking full advantage.
    Unfortunately for him he’s never gonna get a dominant forward display such as that experienced against Connacht?

  2. On the subject of stand offs – Glasgow with a (on paper) a better set of backs than Edinburgh (but Weir at 10) kicked long and aimlessly, giving Scarlets what they love (ball in the hands of their flair players in space). Edinburgh have given Kinghorn the freedom to play, Glasgow have a glacially slow Weir kicking possession away…….

    • Yes, the common factor here seems to be away performances, though to be fair Edinburgh I thought performed reasonably well in those three games with so many players out at Interational duty. Glasgow however looked a bit clueless once Scarlets woke up.

      However, great to see us 3rd and 4th in the table, and the first Welsh team 7th !!

  3. I had visions of Edinburgh’s season deflating like a slow puncture after a couple of very poor displays away against the top two Irish sides. And I feared worse still after Connaught went 8-0 up. Then bang, everything clicked into place and Edinburgh payed with both grunt real panache Kinghorn had a great game, with some beautifully timed passes and intelligent running both on and off the ball. Boffelli, the man with the boot, was faultless and is probably the best bit of business the club have ever done. Hugely looking forward to young Muncaster getting more game time, for the more I see of him the better he seems to get. At just 20 he promises to mature into a fine Edinburgh regular and international player. But he is an old man in comparison to 18-year-old debutant Rudi Brown- what a monster he is in the making! Vellacott’s service was so much sharper than Pyrgos’s, but he needs to learn how to tackle. All good stuff though – and that was without nine squad members on international duty and a further nine on the treatment table!

  4. Great performance by Edinburgh but the fact that there were 14 international forwards not playing and young players like
    Boyle and Muncaster allowed to star , shows that we need more Pro game time for the inflated Edinburgh and Glasgow
    Squad members . A third Pro side is NOW a priority to bring on the growing number of Pros available in and outside of Scotland

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  5. 20 minutes of fumbling and being 2nd best then boom. Immelman immense, Kinghorn a stand out, Muncaster and Boyle sensational. Boffelli’s kicking is a wonder. I could name the whole squad but Special mention to Chris Dean (mom for me), his pace, angles of running and distribution was first class. We’re a real force at home, just need a statement win on the road (cough, cough, who’s up next?)

  6. Just watched the highlights and that was impressive from Edinburgh. I have been hard on Kinghorn at 10 but the pass for the 4th try was as good as I have seen all year so far and most of his other passes looked on the mark. He was very impressive tonight. Great game from the rest of the guys as well.

  7. 20 minutes of fumbling and being 2nd best then boom. Immelman immense, Kinghorn a stand out, Muncaster and Boyle sensational. Boffelli’s kicking is a wonder. I could name the whole squad but Special mention to Chris Dean (mom for me), his pace, angles of running and distribution was first class. We’re a real force at home, just need a statement win on the road (cough, cough, who’s up next?)

  8. A big night by the front five and particularly the the tighthead Angus Williams – what a debut. Once rustiness and early anxiety were quelled, it was a dynamic and dominant performance with some outstanding vision and skills around the park. More please.

  9. Wow – what a stunning performance. After the initial start I thought we were in for a tough night as Connacht looked really dangerous and then it all changed. I thought the forwards were outstanding – we were missing 2 complete back rows of internationalist so this was our 3rd choice back row and they were immense. Boyle and Muncaster both outstanding and both 2nd rows were tops. Phillips doesn’t get much game time but he looked solid. I’ve got to now turn to the backs and let’s give Kinghorn the praise he deserves. I have been unsure about him but this was an excellent display. Because his is a big hard runner he draws in defenders and this creates space around him and he throws some good long passes. The try he made on the blindside was due to his size and pace ability to offload. I think he is now a proper stand off – still things to improve on of course but the real thing.

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  10. For all the stuff said about Blair Kinghorn in past wee while he was superb last night given a wee bit space /time (like last night) he was very impressive. Chris Dean is playing the best rugby of his career.
    Boyle and Muncaster both impressed too on a very enjoyable rugby watching evening

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  11. Some very good stuff tonight. I had Edinburgh down for a hard fought narrow win against a tough Connaught who actually did look pretty threatening for the first 15 mins or so. This was a win powered by a strong performance from all 8 forwards who got on top in all areas. MB’s claim of the youngsters learning on the job carries more weight now. With a good supply of go-forward ball, backs should always be decent, but this was a collective display of fast accurate running and passing that at times had the opposition clutching at shadows. Long May it continue.

  12. Impressive Performance. The URC/past iterations have never been this competitive at the top. Have Edinburgh and Glasgow ever run this well at the same time? The overseas signings have been a big step up from past seasons and the young talent coming through is improving, whats not to like.

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