Edinburgh shock Connacht with late Nathan Chamberlain try
Edinburgh remain in the hunt to reach the Champions Cup next season after Nathan Chamberlain’s 83rd minute try sealed an unlikely 15-14 away win against Connacht at the Sportsground.
Magnus Bradbury crashed over for a first-half try for Edinburgh and after playing the final quarter with a one-man advantage, Richard Cockerill’s side finished the game impressively and Chamberlain stretched for the late winner.
Playing against the elements in the first half Edinburgh got off to a tough start, and four minutes in Connacht academy player Sean O’Brien got in for the first score of the game on the left. Jack Carty’s conversion put the home side 7-0 clear.
Edinburgh continued to be pinned in their own half, but they finally managed to ease that pressure thanks to a timely interception by Ally Miller ten minutes in, near his own try-line.
If anything the wind appeared to strengthen as the first-half continued, and with Thornbury putting Charlie Shiel under huge pressure when box-kicking, Edinburgh forays into Connacht territory were scarce.
The concession of a second penalty at scrum time by Pierre Schoeman didn’t help Edinburgh’s cause after 20 minutes, but his front-row partner Lee-Roy Atalifo almost sent Mike Willemse clear for a try with an incredible flick pass, only for Bradbury’s knock on to stall their progress 16 minutes from the interval.
Schoeman was helped off the field with a leg injury seconds later, and nine minutes from the interval, Edinburgh’s defensive efforts were rewarded. A show-and-go from Chamberlain on halfway saw the stand-off break clear, and Bill Mata followed up with a big carry to put the Scottish side within touching distance. It took a few more tight phases to make the breakthrough, but Bradbury applied the finish to a well worked score. Chamberlain was off target with the conversion and Connacht maintained a slender 7-5 lead.
Carty turned down the chance to kick three easy points for Connacht when Bradbury failed to roll away after the tackle, but on the second attempt the driving lineout paid off with Shane Delahunt driving over Connacht’s second try.
Carty’s second conversion put Connacht 14-5 clear at half-time, but straight after the restart Miller forced a penalty at the breakdown, but Edinburgh were unable to breach the Connacht try-line when a crossing infringement was spotted in midfield.
With the rain beginning to sheet down to add to the terrible conditions, it was Connacht that enjoyed the upper hand, but the concession of needless penalties by Edinburgh helped them gain a foothold in the Edinburgh half.
There was major concern for Andrew Davidson after 57 minutes when he sustained a head injury for the second time in a fortnight, following an illegal shoulder charge in the tackle by Connacht captain Jarrad Butler. Davidson was replaced for a head injury assessment, while Connacht correctly finished the game with 14 players following a red card for Butler.
A penalty from Chamberlin ten minutes from time closed the deficit to six points, but there was still time for a shock result with his late converted try.
Scorers. Connacht: Tries: O’Brien, Delahunt; Cons: Carty 2. Edinburgh: Tries: Bradbury, Chamberlain; Con: Chamberlain; Pen: Chamberlain.
Connacht: A Wootton; B O’Donnell, S O’Brien, T Daly, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, J Aungier, N Murray, G Thornbury, C Prendergast, J Butler, E Masterson.
Replacements: A Papali’i (for Prendergast 49), J Duggan (for Buckley 55), C Kenny (for Aungier 55), J Murphy (for Delahunt 59), C Blade (for Marmion 62), O McNulty (for O’Donnell 66).
Red card: Butler (57)
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; J Blain, J Johnstone, G Taylor, E Sau; N Chamberlain, C Shiel; P Schoeman, M Willemse, L-R Atalifo, M Bradbury, A Davidson, L Crosbie, A Miller, B Mata.
Replacements: B Venter (for Schoeman 24), H Pyrgos (for Shiel 49), J Hodgson (for Davidson 57-69, HIA), M Kunavula (for Crosbie 59), M Bennett (for Johnstone 62, blood), A Williams (for Atalifo 68), C Savala (for Blain 68), J Hodgson (for Bradbury 69).
Referee: C Busby (IRFU)