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EMBRA NOT AT THE RACES IN GALWAY

Connacht: 28 (18) Edinburgb Rugby: 15 (10)



While Galway is, by some margin, my favourite away trip in the PRO12, and I was delighted to see Connacht winning the title last year, it would have been nice had the champions' early season pain continued for another week. 

When only divine intervention halted their shellacking by lowly Zebre last weekend, this was shaping up as an away trip that the Gunners should have been looking to win well.  With the departure of Alan Solomons after the Munster loss, veteran stand-off Duncan 'Hodgey' Hodge must have seen this is a good opportunity to get his stint in the hot seat off to a flier.

Think again.  Edinburgh shipped four tries to cough up yet another bonus point loss.  The champions dominated most aspects of the game, including - worryingly - the scrummage, and took the opportunities that came their way.

By contrast, the Gunners were ponderous and error-prone in attack.  One again, they had the chances to win the match, but their execution let them down.

With Duncan Weir's injury at Thomond, it was reassuring to see the returning Jason 'Stovies' Tovey take the field in the 10 shirt.  The Stovenator  duly knocked the away side into an early lead with a penalty on five minutes after a breakdown infringement.

As was to become the pattern of the match, the Westies hit back immediately.  Adeolokun crossed on seven minutes with Carty's conversion giving them a 7-3 lead.  The stand-off stretched the lead to 10-3 at the end of the first quarter, reward for a lengthy period of pressure.

The Gunners hit back with a fine Gilchrist try, the skipper powering over off an offload close in.  The Stovenator squared the match at 10-10 with his conversion on 21 minutes, only for Carty to nail a penalty immediately afterwards.

Just before the break, Connacht scored their second try.  This time it was their South African lock Roux who finished off a flowing move, Carty's failed conversion attempt leaving the score at the break 18-10 Connacht.  While the Embramen were by no means out of it, they had spent a great deal of the half defending, which would surely catch up with them in the closing stages.

It didn't take the men in green long to stretch their lead after the resumption.  Off lineout ball, Connacht moved wide and Carty committed the defender before putting his winger Kelleher over for try number three.  Although the conversion was missed again, at 23-10, this one was starting to get away from the Embramen.

Yet the Gunners were looking more threatening now and building more field position.  But handling errors were letting them down.  Eventually, on 70 minutes, they managed to execute.  This time, it was Mike Allen crossing for another score in his early season purple patch, in a move featuring good skills from full back Bryce. Tovey's difficult missed conversion meant a losing bonus was just out of their grasp, at 23-15, but they had their tails up and another score looked on as the clock wound down.

Another score duly arrived.  Unfortunately, it was for Connacht, who secured a bonus of their own on 74 minutes when Robb crossed after breaking a tackle and outpacing the cover.  It was an important, confidence-boosting win for the champions, but a disappointing loss for the Gunners.  They are, however, now entering a series of matches against Italian and Romanian opposition. This is an opportunity for them to secure some morale-boosting victories of their own and start building some momentum. It only gets tougher after that.