Edinburgh’s recent run of good form was washed away by a stubborn Connacht side at Murrayfield on Friday night, with Dan Parks rolling back the years for the visitors.
Parks kicked 19 points for the visitors, while Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw kicked eight penalties, a club record in the Pro12, to keep the hosts in touch.
It was a 10 minute burst from the Irishmen that sealed their victory late on, moving the Galway side up to 8th in the table, and leaving Edinburgh in 10th ahead of next weekend’s trip to Treviso.
With three minutes to play, a fumble from Tom Brown allowed Connacht to bounce on a loose ball, and after a period of extended pressure inside the Edinburgh 22, full-back Robbie Henshaw sneaked his way over to clinch what seemed to be the match-winning score.
With Edinburgh chasing the game, Parks – who had an eventful evening after being shown an early yellow card – added salt to the wound with his fourth penalty of the evening after the clock had gone dead, to deny Stevie Scott’s side a losing bonus point after a recent run of wins.
It was a match which the home side dominated in large spells, with Tim Visser and Matt Scott showing glimpses of their international form out wide, while Ross Ford and Stuart McInally were the pick of the Edinburgh pack.
However, it was Connacht who got the first try of the game on the half-hour, when captain Gavin Duffy broke a tackle and fed flanker Mick Kearney, who broke clear down the touchline and evaded the tackle of the covering Brown to score.
Laidlaw’s boot was Edinburgh’s only reply, with the scrum-half kicking five penalties before the break to leave the home side in front at half-time. There was, though, much for Scott and Duncan Hodge to ponder.
Half-time: Edinburgh 15-13 Connacht
The visitors started the second period brighter and Parks’ boot quickly put them in front with a pair of penalties, before Laidlaw replied in kind.
An Edinburgh foray into the Connacht 22 saw Ireland international Ronan Loughney sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul, allowing Edinburgh the chance to capitalise on a man advantage for the second time in the match.
However, they couldn’t find the breakthrough they craved and Connacht struck with less than five minutes to go as Henshaw’s try took victory away before Parks’ late penalty denied the hosts a bonus point in defeat.
It was disappointment for Scott and Hodge as their unbeaten run came to an end. The Edinburgh interim head coach spoke of his disappointment post-match: “I’m really disappointed and very frustrated. We had numerous chances to win the game,” he said.
“A lot of individual errors cost us in the end, along with some poor discipline.”
Full-time: Edinburgh 24-32 Connacht