Edinburgh Rugby’s frustrating Guinness PRO12 run continued as they slipped to a seventh straight league defeat despite a brave fightback against Connacht.
The Irish side returned to form after back-to-back away league defeats at Glasgow Warriors and Zebre, with fly-half Steve Crosbie a menace off the tee, scoring 17 points, while Eoin McKeon touched down for an all-important try..
But it could have been so different for Edinburgh who scored three tries in the final 20 minutes thanks to a penalty score, Hamish Watson and Glenn Bryce but it proved too little too late as Duncan Weir missed the vital kick off the tee to level things late on.
Edinburgh dominated the opening quarter of the game but failed to turn possession and territory into points as Connacht held firm under pressure.
Weir had the first opportunity to open the scoring after just four minutes but the Edinburgh man missed his shot at goal, while Connacht went ahead after eight minutes as Crosbie landed his effort.
The Irish side, attempting to recover from their defeat in Italy last time out, spent much of the first half on the back foot, desperately absorbing Edinburgh pressure.
And so it was a real surprise on 26 minutes when Connacht doubled their lead and went 6-0 ahead as Crosbie added his second penalty of the evening.
It got worse for Edinburgh on the half hour mark as in-form Kieran Marmion, orchestrating Connacht’s first trip into the Scottish side’s 22, created an opening for McKeon to stroll through unopposed under the posts – Crosbie added the extras.
Edinburgh should have got a foothold back in the game after 34 minutes but Weir, who seemed short of confidence and form, failed to convert a straightforward shot at goal after Connacht indiscipline.
Connacht further added to their first-half score as Crosbie once again punished Edinburgh’s errors to give the Irish side a 16-0 lead at the break.
The Scottish side were again penalised at the breakdown after 49 minutes and Crosbie did the business off the kicking tee to make the score 19-0.
Crosbie was now single-handily ensuring Edinburgh faced a mountain to climb in the final quarter as he racked up yet another penalty on the hour.
But Edinburgh finally got on the scoreboard after 63 minutes as they were awarded a penalty try, with Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran yellow carded in the build-up and Weir adding his first successful kick off the tee.
And then just three minutes later the game turned as Edinburgh’s Watson produced a trademark rumble through the Connacht defence to score under the posts, with Weir again adding the extras to make it 22-14.
Connacht were now wobbling under pressure and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne found Bryce on the blindside flank, with the full-back barging over for the score to bring Edinburgh back to within two points.
Weir’s shot at goal from out on the touchline went agonisingly wide, and the Scots could not close the three-point deficit in the closing few minutes.
The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie
Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final