Connacht finally looked like the side who claimed the Guinness PRO12 title last term as they notched up their first win of the season, beating Edinburgh Rugby 28-15 in Galway.
The hosts went in at the break 18-10 to the good thanks to scores from Niyi Adeolokun and Quinn Roux, which sandwiched Edinburgh skipper Grant Gilchrist’s effort.
And Connacht again outscored the visitors by two tries to one after half-time, with Mike Allen’s try no more than a consolation as replacement Cian Kelleher and Peter Robb secured a bonus-point win.
Connacht got off to the worst possible start as Kelleher had to come on for injured wing Matt Healy in just the third minute, and Jason Tovey put the visitors ahead with a penalty from close range two minutes later.
But Pat Lam’s men were not in the mood to lie down in front of an expectant Galway audience, and after their forwards earned a penalty on halfway from an Edinburgh scrum, Connacht were able to build the phases before Adeolokun pinned his ears back and charged over the whitewash.
Jack Carty made no mistake with the extras to make it 7-3, before adding the game’s second penalty inside the Edinburgh 22 moments later.
Gilchrist hit back for his side however in an end-to-end opening to the clash, after Tovey made a half break and set up his skipper to score a well-worked try.
Fly-half Tovey levelled the scores temporarily with the conversion, but that lasted all of two minutes as the visitors were penalised for coming in at the side and Carty struck his third kick from the tee through the posts.
Edinburgh spent most of the next quarter of an hour camped inside their own 22, but handling errors from the hosts and resolute scrimmaging from Duncan Hodge’s men kept the Guinness PRO12 champions at bay until the four minutes from the break.
But Roux finally breached their defences to go over in the right corner to make their pressure count – although Carty missed his first attempt of the evening to make it 18-10 at the interval.
Connacht came out flying after the interval, winning a penalty at the breakdown to kick to the Edinburgh 10-metre line, and Carty’s delightful one-handed offload saw Kelleher over for his first try for the club.
The visitors pushed hard for a way back into the contest, but once they finally forced their way into Connacht’s 22, a series of huge defensive tackles from the hosts forced the knock-on.
Connacht were able to stop a driving maul from Edinburgh in the 63rd minute, but it was game on again ten minutes from time as the Scots finally made all their pressure count.
Great handling from the Edinburgh backline bought Allen the space out wide to run in, although crucially Tovey’s conversion from out wide hit the post to keep Connacht eight points clear.
But in the end that miss did not prove decisive as the hosts secured their try bonus point just three minutes later, centre Robb racing into the corner to take the final score to 28-15.
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