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Edinburgh: 62 (20) Connacht: 13 (6)

The Middlesex 'Spin Twins', Phil Edmonds and John Emburey, were key factors in the English cricket side's brief period of world domination - in between meetings with the West Indies at least - in the mid-80s.  Edmonds was the go-to guy when his skipper wanted to dismiss the enemy's top batsman.  But the great man just couldn't be bothered to skittle the tail enders out.  That humdrum task was left to 'Embers', whose dogged determination closed out a number of Test wins following an Edmonds breakthrough.  Every team needs to do both the spectacular and the routine tasks well if it's going to be successful.

Yet while we have known for some time that Embra can beat anyone in Europe when they're up for it, it's been putting away the lesser lights consistently that has proved problematic.  There is something about the 2009 squad that suggests this weakness is being addressed.  The Gunners gave dogged Connacht the respect that they deserved at Murrayfield this evening.  But they cut loose with utter ruthlessness in a four try spell in 20 second half minutes en route to a club record 62-13 cuffing of the visiting Irishmen.

Whatever happens elsewhere over this weekend, it's safe to assume that the capital squad will be comfortably ahead at the top of the league.

Yet while there was much that will have had coach Moffat purring with delight, there is still plenty to work on, not least the continued disaster area that is the Edinburgh lineout.  But to see Ben Cairns ghosting through midfield gaps at will, Godman once again bossing the game and Man of the Match Mark Robertson ever eager to make things happen was a delight.  While Edinburgh played with great pace, they remained utterly composed throughout.  And when the chances came, boy did they take them.  Eight tries - all converted by Paterson, naturally - and two Paterson penalties saw Edinburgh surpass their previous best score and biggest winning margin in this competition - 53-7 over the Reivers - with something to spare.  The pack subdued their visiting opposite numbers and generated plenty of quality possession.  This was some feat, given the number of Connacht bodies that were attracted to the ball at the breakdown.  Once again, Roddy Grant played a blinder - the competition for the openside berth between the flame haired flanker and Ross 'Rosco' Rennie will be a titanic battle.

Things started disappointingly for Edinburgh, though.  Not only did Ian Keatley notch the opening penalty on seven minutes after MacDonald had been carded for foul play at the breakdown, but the stand-off seems to have dispensed with the more ludicrous aspects of his pre-kick routine since last season.  Yet while he has minimised the comedy value, he has yet to maximise the return - a 50% strike rate from four eminently kickable opportunities during the match did not help his side's fortunes.  And Embra hit back immediately.  Off a lineout on half way, Godman's beautiful inside pass put Mark 'Son of Keith' Robertson clean through the defence.  The Human Highlight surged towards the line, eluding the cover to touch down for the opener.  Mossy duly knocked over the first of his eight conversions of the evening.

There were snorts of impatience around the impressively hefty home crowd for these opponents, though, as Embra guddled the restart and gave away a penalty on their 22, goaled by Keatley.  But Paterson quickly kicked his own first penalty to take the score to 10-6 at the end of the first quarter.  Andy Turnbull nearly pounced on his own kick to the in-goal area after MacDonald had returned to the fray.

Although Edinburgh's scrummage was creaking a little, they were beginning to take control at the breakdown, particularly once referee Jones started to ping Connacht for killing the ball.  Paterson's second penalty on the half hour stretched the lead, then Cairns scored the second try of the night.  A Connacht attack broke down and the ball was hacked upfield by Hamilton.  Cairns, a keen Hibs fan, showed inpressive dribbling skills to elude the cover and calmly touch down.  He remained unperturbed even after the suggestion by tonight's PA operative that his skills would be useful in the Tynecastle area.

And that was that for the first half.  Latterly, Edinburgh were beginning to probe in the wider channels, having matched Connacht in the forward exchanges.

They began the second period in similar vein, moving the ball from wing to wing off the restart only to lose the ball forward in the Connacht 22.  The third try was not long in coming though.  After rescuing their own lineout, Cairns came close on the right wing.  A few close in drives by the pack committed the defence, then the ball was spun across for Paterson to pirouette and reach over for a well-worked score.

With Hamilton featuring strongly in the loose, visiting blindside Muldoon became the first Connacht man to be carded for a breakdown offence.  Edinburgh took advantage soon after, spinning the ball off a scrum in the Connacht 22 for Godman to put Robertson over with a carbon copy of his first try, albeit from shorter range.  Mission accomplished, bonus point secured with less than 50 minutes on the clock.  Yet while that was the cue for wholesale changes to the home XV, Embra kept the foot on the gas.  Hogg was next on the scoresheet.  McCarthy was carded for killing the ball with the Gunners threatening again.  Embra opted to take the scrummage against a six man pack.  The No 8 had little difficulty in strolling round the corner and over, untouched by human hand.

More fluent phases ripped Connacht apart on 59 minutes.  This time it was a Turnbull pass that put Alan MacDonald over in the corner for his second try in two weeks. 

Two minutes later a lovely Blair break off a defensive scrummage saw the Lion drift infield to make space for the supporting Turnbull.  Perfect timing of the pass saw The Human Hamster streak over to beat the desperate defence for try number seven.  At 55-6, this was already Edinburgh's biggest win in Celtic competition.  And there were still nearly 20 minutes left, with Paterson now pulling the strings lying incredibly flat at stand off.  It was sevens-style rugby at times and Edinburgh looked like they could score pretty much any time.

Generous sympathetic applause greeted an alertly taken Carr try on 67 minutes as he gathered an errant pass and sprinted over the line.  New Zealand import Nikora scored the extras.  But it was Edinburgh who were to have the last word.  They smashed the Connacht scrummage once again, forcing the penalty.  Roddy Grant alertly took a quick tap and carried two defenders over for a well-deserved try.  Referee Jones blew up a minute early to spare the visitors more pain.

Next up, Ulster at Ravers next Friday evening.  Once again, a tough game that requires 100% focus.

MAN OF THE MATCH: For an outstanding attacking display among many, MARK ROBERTSON.


Edinburgh:  Paterson 1T 2P 8C, Robertson 2T, Cairns 1T,  Hogg 1T, MacDonald 1T, Turnbull 1T, Grant 1T.

Connacht:  Keatley 2P, Nikora 1C, Carr 1T  


Edinburgh: Paterson, Robertson, Cairns, Houston, A. Turnbull, Godman, Laidlaw, Jacobsen, Kelly, G. Cross, C. Hamilton, MacLeod, MacDonald, Grant, Hogg.
Replacements: Ford, Traynor, McKenzie, Newlands, M. Blair, De Luca, Jones.

Connacht: Duffy, Tuohy, Nathan, Matthews, Carr, Keatley, F. Murphy, Loughney, Cronin, Hagan, Browne, Upton, Muldoon, Ofisa, McCarthy.
Replacements: Flavin, Higgins, McComish, O'Connor, Nikora, O'Loughlin, Wynne.

Attendance: 3,042

Referee:  Jones, J (WRFU)