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Blade leads way for Connacht as Edinburgh slump to sixth straight loss

John Porch makes a break forward for Connacht. (Getty)

Edinburgh’s post-lockdown lethargy continued as they suffered their sixth straight defeat after a 37-26 loss to Connacht at Murrayfield. Richard Cockerill’s team suffered a deflating end to last season’s delayed finale as they missed out on a place in the Guinness PRO14 final and the last four of the European Challenge Cup as they fell to Glasgow, Ulster and Bordeaux.


And this season has got off to just as dispiriting a start after defeats to Munster and Ospreys were followed by their latest set-back.

Mike Willemese grabbed a double in between scores from Nic Groom and Andrew Davidson as Edinburgh at least claimed a bonus point.

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But Alex Wooten’s brace and tries from Caolin Blade, Sammy Arnold and Tiernan O’Halloran gave Connacht their first away win since March.

It looked to be going so well for Edinburgh as they responded to Connor Fitzgerald’s penalty by grabbing the opening try on 10 minutes when Groom found the smallest of gaps to squeeze over the line.

But the hosts have had trouble keeping their discipline in check lately and it hurt them again five minutes later as Pierre Schoeman was pinged for a breakdown infringement.

Connacht’s line-out ploy did not go exactly to plan as the ball squirmed out of the maul, but Blade improvised brilliantly as he kicked down the empty short-side before diving over for the touchdown.


Fitzgerald’s goal kicking was off target as he missed two conversion attempts in the opening half but he was on the money with a perfect little dink through for Connacht’s second as Arnold dotted down on 20 minutes.

Edinburgh were on the back foot but Jack Blain tried to inject some impetus as he drove into the Irish half. But when his side made a mess of a line-out soon after they were punished again as John Porch dropped a gear and took off down the left wing before allowing Wooten to score.

Edinburgh wing Eroni Sau thought he had reduced the deficit but saw a try ruled out after Chris Dean’s illegal block in the build-up.

Connacht hoped to take a 16-point lead in at the break after Tom Daly’s penalty but Edinburgh’s late pressure told as Willemese crashed over three minutes into first-half stoppage time from a line-out drive to give Cockerill’s team belief.


A carbon copy play saw the South African hooker score again 11 minutes into the second period as Edinburgh climbed to within four points of their guests and with plenty time to work with.

But Connacht immediately surged up field and grabbed their bonus point thanks to another moment of inspiration from Blade, with the scrum-half clipping a sublime grubber through for Wooten to score his second.

Connacht then moved out of sight when O’Halloran powered over after another Blade short ball.

Davidson’s close-range finish late on was not enough to arrest Edinburgh’s miserable end to 2020.


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