Connacht 22, Edinburgh 29: Duncan Weir helps Edinburgh win a thriller

Dougie Fife scored the fastest try in Guinness PRO14 history as Edinburgh extended their winning streak with a 29-22 defeat of Connacht at the Sportsground.

Friday, 23rd March 2018, 8:46 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd March 2018, 8:53 pm
Duncan Weir

The Scots enjoyed a dream start with Fife scoring after just 10 seconds via a charge-down, eclipsing the league’s previous quickest try by Nathan Brew for the Dragons, 18 seconds into a game against Cardiff in December 2005.

Connacht fought back to lead 17-13 at half-time, with Tiernan O’Halloran and Tom Farrell both scoring their fifth tries of the campaign.

But despite a further score from prop Finlay Bealham, wily replacement Duncan Weir inspired a late win for Edinburgh with 16 points – including another try from a blocked kick.

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In-form Edinburgh, who were chasing their sixth straight PRO14 victory, stunned the hosts when John Hardie blocked O’Halloran’s attempted clearance straight from the kick-off, and winger Fife swooped in ahead of three Connacht players to touch down.

Jaco van der Walt, who missed the conversion, landed a seventh minute penalty to strengthen the visitors’ position, but Connacht soon bounced back with two well-taken converted tries after 11 and 16 minutes.

Some lovely interplay between Caolin Blade and Eoin McKeon sent full-back O’Halloran cruising through a midfield gap, on a diagonal run straight to the line.

Jack Carty converted and was then instrumental in their second seven-pointer, his clever run and well-timed pass putting centre Farrell over to the right of the posts.

Edinburgh hit back past the midpoint of the first half, with the impressive South African winger Duhan van der Merwe afforded too much room by Niyi Adeolokun as he broke up the left touchline to make it 14-13, with Van der Walt’s conversion attempt off target.

Richard Cockerill’s men came in search of further tries, but Connacht – and Jarrad Butler and Sean O’Brien in particular – manned a muscular maul defence, and a late sortie downfield just before half-time saw a Carty penalty put four points between the teams.

Conditions worsened for the second period with a heavy rain shower, and fly-half Carty won the tactical battle with some clever kicks but missed a penalty after some evasive running from Adeolokun and Matt Healy.

With Connacht, and Quinn Roux in particular, leaking more penalties, Weir broke the deadlock with a 61st-minute penalty, but the Irish province bounced back again with a try, centre Farrell’s leg-pumping charge getting them into range before Bealham burrowed over in the 71st minute.

However, Carty’s replacement Ronaldson pushed the conversion wide and then blundered when his kick on halfway was blocked by Weir who dribbled through and scored to the right of the posts, although there were some question marks over the grounding.

The influential stand-off tagged on the extras and added a final penalty to complete his decisive 16-point contribution in just 19 minutes.