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Connacht: 22 (17) Edinburgh Rugby: 29 (13)

At kick off at the Sportsground this evening, the Embramen sat on 12 wins, bested only by conference topping Glasgow and Leinster in the PRO14 thus far. They had a nine point advantage over fourth placed Ulster in Conference B, albeit having played one match more.  Qualification for the playoffs this season and Champions Cup rugby next is in their hands.  The visit to the West of Ireland afforded an opportunity to take another big step towards achieving those goals, which looked unlikely at the start of the season.

In an error-strewn match, where Edinburgh were sometimes their own worst enemies, the Gunners' dogged this one out.  As so often this term, they got their noses in front in the final 10 minutes and duly closed the match out.

Edinburgh could not have got off to a better start.  Off the opening kick off, Hardie blocked the Connacht clearance; the ball bobbled over the tryline and 'Deadly' Dougie Fife was first to the touchdown.  Although the conversion was missed, the visitors were 5-0 up on 10 seconds in characteristically tempestuous Galway weather.  Weather that would surely suit the Embramen down to the ground; the expansive Galwegians not so much.

On 6 minutes, a thrilling Blairhorn break saw The King surge down the left wing.  One felt that he might have made it himself, but he passed to Dean, who put van der Merwe into the enemy 22.  The home side coughed up a penalty, slotted by 'Piet' van der Walt for an early 8-0 advantage.

Connacht were sticking to their principles, though, and O'Halloran scored a super try, bursting through the traffic around the breakdown to touch down on 12 minutes, Carty conjuring a fine conversion in the swirling rain to narrow the deficit to 8-7 Edinburgh.

And Connacht went ahead on 16 minutes with their second try, inside centre Farrell crossing off turnover ball.  The conversion put them 14-8 up in this freewheeling match.

Yet just as the men in green looked to be motoring, the Gunners struck back.  The move was sparked by The King, then Dean's beautifully timed pass put van der Merwe in a bit of space outside the home 22.  The big winger powered through a tackle to slide over in the corner.  Although the wide conversion was missed, the Embramen were back in touch, a mere 14-13 down.  This match had try bonus for both sides written all over it already.

As the half went on, one felt that Connacht were gaining the ascendancy, albeit in a scrappy encounter in poor conditions. The Gunners' discipline was letting them down a little playing into the wind, but they were nonetheless well placed if they could sharpen things up a bit in the second period.  Connacht kicked a straightforward penalty on the stroke of half time to leave the score at the break 17-13 in their favour.

Connacht started the second period the stronger, building pressure and field position.  The Gunners' defence looked comfortable until a fine Adeolokun counter from deep took the ball back to their 22, where Carty had a simple penalty effort on 49 minutes but failed.  It was a real let off for the Embramen as WP Nel entered the fray to shore up the visiting scrummage. 

Carty was kicking sensibly, though, consistently finding touch to keep Edinburgh pinned deep in their own half.  The Gunners' tactical kicking,by contrast, was wayward and ended up gifting Connacht ball in broken field, from which they were profiting. WP was starting to win scrum penalties, though, as the final quarter approached with this one finely balanced.  Supersub Duncan Weir also took the field on the hour.

And The Glasgow Boy slotted a penalty off the Gunners' first incursion into the enemy 22.  17-16 Connacht and another classic 2017/18 Edinburgh victory looked in prospect. It looked like Blairhorn was clean away immediately afterwards, but a pass in the lead up had drifted forward. And it was loose play that was really killing Edinburgh yet. A foolish block in a kick chase gave Connacht field position, from which Bealham eventually drove over on 66 minutes to stretch the lead to 22-16.  Well deserved on the run of play, but this match was still there for either side to win.

As Edinburgh enjoyed anotehr spell of pressure, Weir was tackled off the ball chasing his own grubber into the Connacht 22.  His penalty on 70 minutes took the game to 22-19, setting up a grandstand finish with 10 minutes left to run.

The West Coast Super Sub was at it again, charging down a speculative kick around half way, showing his silky Celtic football skills to control the ball and touch down to stun the crowd and take the wind out of Connacht's sails.  His conversion put the Embramen 26-22 with six minutes left.  Time to shut this one down in textbook fashion.

And the little playmaker used his cultured boot to pin Connacht deep into their own half as time ticked down.  Then he gave them the breakdown penalty that allowed themselves to clear their own lines and set up their last attack!  A fantastic breakdown steal by Carmichael then saw the Gunners pick and drive to take this match into injury time, eventually winning a penalty with 30 seconds to go.  Time expired as Weir went through his routine.  Not that it mattered, but he stroked the long penalty through the posts for a hard fought 29-22 away win as Edinburgh completed a clean sweep of the Irish provinces this season.