Ben Healy kicked a last-minute drop goal as Edinburgh ended Connacht’s unbeaten start to the URC with a 25-22 win at the Hive stadium. 

A scrappy first-half proceeded a thrilling second 40 minutes and it was capped off in the most dramatic fashion. Connacht levelled the game with just three minutes remaining but Edinburgh refused to become downhearted as they threw everything at the visitors and their efforts were rewarded in style.

Edinburgh controlled territory deep in Connacht’s 22 and they had a penalty advantage but they didn’t need it as Healy dropped into the pocket to send the ball straight through the posts to spark wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands. 

“I’m delighted with the win,” said head coach Sean Everitt. “We were outstanding tonight defensively despite leaking the three times. The group needs to understand that they need to exit well after scoring points and that’s not something that we did well tonight. 

“All three tries were conceded after we failed to get out of our half after kick-off. The guys were really resilient and I’m very proud of the boys. It’s a great win because now our guys will believe that they can win in tight situations against top teams. 

“Ben Vellacott was outstanding tonight in every department. Unfortunately, he missed last week and he wanted to prove a point tonight. With Ali arriving there’s great competition at scrum-half.”

After a perfectly observed minute silence for Remembrance Day, Edinburgh made the perfect start at a packed Hive Stadium after just four minutes. The returning Bill Mata offloaded to Mark Bennett, who surged through the Connacht defence and the ball ended up with Wes Goosen and the winger showed electric pace to score in the corner. 

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Connacht travelled to Edinburgh unbeaten from their first three games - including a win over Glasgow Warriors - and they threatened to respond immediately as they burst into Edinburgh’s 22 but the hosts defended superbly to win a penalty at the breakdown. 

Connacht kept the pressure on as the first half progressed but they were almost caught when Tom Dodd claimed a turnover before the flanker launched an unconventional kick into open space in the visitor’s half. It was a foot race between Bennent and Caolin Blade to collect the ball but the Connacht man cleared up. 

Edinburgh were still without Darcy Graham and Emiliano Boffelli amongst their back three options - labelled ‘world-class’ by Goosen earlier this week. But the perenially dangerous Duhan van der Merwe did feature and the home crowd rose to their feet as he collected the ball in space on 25 minutes but he slipped on the hybrid surface as he threatened.

It was an arduous encounter after a promising start with try-scoring chances at a premium but Connacht reduced the deficit to just four points through Jack Carty’s penalty on 36 minutes after Edinburgh were penalised at the breakdown. 

Edinburgh passed up the opportunity to reopen their seven-point lead just before half-time when Ben Healy opted to kick for the corner rather than the posts. After the hosts rolling maul was thwarted, Edinburgh went through the phases but Connacht held firm despite Goosen threatening a second try momentarily. 

Pierre Schoeman was in the thick of the action on his 100th appearance and Edinburgh won an early penalty but Healy, uncharacteristically, missed the chance for three points.

Ali Price has been the talk of Scottish rugby this week after he moved to Edinburgh on loan from Glasgow but his new scrum-half rival Ben Vellacout showcased his credentials just one minute after his introduction. 

Van der Merwe turned on the afterburners as he burst past two Connacht defenders before releasing the ball at the optimum moment for Vellacout to score and Healy converted to establish an 11-point lead. 

Connacht, however, showed why they reached the URC semi-finals last season by responding immediately. The Irish side hammered on Edinburgh’s try-line and they eventually went over through Tiernan O’Halloran and it quickly turned into a double blow for the hosts. 

Ben Whitehouse was instructed by the TMO to head over to the big screens to review a potential head-on-head tackle by Schoeman and the referee adjudged it was a yellow card offence. 

Edinburgh showed great resilience after losing Shoeman for ten minutes and a dominant scrum in Connacht’s 22 led to a penalty, which Healy slotted for a seven-point lead. 

Connacht capitalised on their man advantage as Joe Joyce made an immediate impact, bundling over the line just seconds after entering the action. Carty, however, spurned the opportunity to level the scores by missing a relatively straightforward conversion. 

The game was delicately poised entering the last fifteen minutes and a clever grubber kick from Vellacott gave Edinburgh great territory deep in Connacht’s 22. The visitors cleared partially but Edinburgh launched an attack from the line-out and a brilliant floated pass from Healy released Van der Merwe and it needed three Connacht to tackle him to the floor. 

But Edinburgh couldn’t be stopped for long as ingenious thinking from Vellacout led to their third try. Ref Whitehouse awarded Edinburgh a penalty under the posts but Vellacvout showed great awareness to take it quickly as he spun a pass out for Bennett to power over. 

Healy missed the conversion and it left Edinburgh the last 13 minutes to defend a seven-point lead. The hosts defended well under immense pressure from Connacht but their resistance eventually wilted with just three minutes to go. 

After numerous phases on the Edinburgh line, Cian Prendergast arrowed over the line with Carty adding the extras to level the game but Healy won it at the death.