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GUNNERS IN GALWAY GALLOP



Groovy Gunners will know that Brian Kellock is the best jazz pianist in Scotland, Europe, probably the world, and possibly the universe. Extensive genealogical research has yet to determine whether the keyboard wizard is related in some way to Edinburgh's telescopic touchline titan Ali Kellock. But if the latter's artistic display in the lineout this afternoon is anything to go by, it would be little surprise.

"Big Al" dominated the lineout exchanges in a Gunners pack that set the platform for a five try to two victory over on-form Connacht at the Galway Sportsground. And if there's one thing you can't do with that sort of tally, it's argue with it. To set the seal on a fine individual display, the young lock made sure of the win with a superb steal from a dangerous Connacht rolling maul five metres out from the Gunners' line in the dying seconds.

But things hadn't begun so promisingly for the visitors. Perhaps blinded by Mark McHugh's spectacular peroxide locks, and playing into a stiff breeze, they managed two knock-ons in the first two minutes, the latter a direct result of trying to play some fancy stuff deep in their own 22, when traditionalists may have settled for hoofing the ball safely into touch. Some subsequent Connacht pressure demanded resolute defence, but also drew the penalty for offside, to give the home side the lead on three minutes.

Stand off Warwick doubled the lead five minutes later with a penalty for the same offence. And while the Gunners were now beginning to find their feet, they were not getting a great deal of pace on the ball. As the quarter came to a close, Warwick converted his third penalty after a Laney clearance was charged down.

It was probably the Dingwall Dynamo, Dougie Hall, who sparked the Gunners into life on 20 minutes, with only a desperate O'Loughlin tackle denying the Gunners hooker after a super run from far out. But the visitors had only to wait a minute for their opener. An excellent Gunners driving maul was taken down close to the home line. The ball was spun across field for Marcus Di Rollo to scythe through the defence on the angle for the try. Paterson converted, as he did the four tries that were to come, in a perfect place kicking day that took Mossy to 80% in the accuracy department for the season so far.

The Gunners were getting the bit between their teeth now, and Jacobsen pirouetted through three tacklers on the half way line and sprinted down the middle of the field. Only a fine tackle on the home 22 halted the PL panther, but the familiar Edinburgh fluency in attack and calm in defence seemed to have returned. It was therefore a bit of a surprise when Connacht lock scored the unconverted try that stretched the home lead to 14-7 on the half hour.

But the Gunners simply took up where they left off, and they scored a trademark touchdown on 40 minutes. Both Jackie Joiner and Craig Smith featured prominently as they put the phases in, then the ball was spun from wing to wing for Blackadder to streak over for the try in the corner. Even a McHugh penalty on the stroke of halftime, giving the home side a slender 17-14 lead, did not jolt the feeling that, with the wind advantage to come in the second period, the Gunners were set fair for the win.

And Edinburgh killed the game in the third quarter with three tries in ten minutes. With the Gunners pack upping the pressure, the Edinburgh running game was in full flow. Joiner was unlucky not to hold a scoring pass from Di Rollo after good work from Hall and Cross. Then Laney went for touch close in from a kickable penalty. From the lineout, the pack rolled round for Jacobsen to touch down.

The welcome return of Simon Webster from injury saw the winger feature in the next try five minutes later. An excellent Hines steal at a Connacht lineout in the Gunners' 22 saw the Gunners run the ball out from the other wing, with Webster exploding to the Edinburgh 10. The ball came back to the right wing, where Hall made good progress, before being moved back left, where the Chainsaw saw the gap and sliced through the cover for the bonus point try.

More was to come on the hour, after Paterson had come close off a useful dart by the lively Lawson. Again, this was Gunners rugby at its best. They soaked up the Connacht pressure, then turned over ball on their own 22. Ali Hogg, who had an impressive game at number 8, tore across field to where the Gunners had the numbers, before Laney took over. Like a Galway greyhound, the Chainsaw injected extra pace into the move before releasing Webster for the fine try that put the game out of sight.

Although Connacht did manage to pull back a score, with Lacey being driven over for a converted try, the Gunners never really looked in danger for the remainder of the game. Where last week's trip to Ireland saw the performance, but not the result, today's trip featured a fine display but, more importantly, an excellent scoreline. There is every sign that the Gunners are embarking upon their Heineken campaign in fine fettle, which is just as well, as they start with their third away game in a row, this time in Perpignan, next Friday evening.


SCORERS
CONNACHT: Warwick 2P 1C, McHugh 1P, Myburgh 1T, Lacey 1T

EDINBURGH RUGBY: Paterson 5C, Laney 1T, Jacobsen 1T, Di Rollo 1T, Blackadder 1T, Webster 1T

TEAMS

CONNACHT: Mostyn; Robinson, Yapp, McHugh, O'Brien; Warwick, O'Loughlin; Hogan, Fogerty, Bracken, Farley ©, Swift, Lacey, Carroll. Replacements: Jackman, Clarke, Short, Muldoon, Walls, The Great Eric Elwood, Downey

EDINBURGH RUGBY: Lee; Paterson, Di Rollo, Joiner, Hugo; Laney, Lawson; Jacobsen, Hall, Smith, Hines, Kellock, Blackadder ©, Cross, Hogg. Replacements: Kelly, Branigan, Pringle, Strokosch, Blackwood, Godman, Webster.

Referee: Hugh Watkins (WRU) who had a good game.







MB