EDINBURGH gave their play-off prospects another significant boost with what turned out to be a commanding victory after a mid-match lapse.

Their chances of winning at all were briefly in the balance after they had allowed a 20-0 lead to slip to 20-14 with half- an-hour to play, but they put that poor patch behind them to finish strongly and claim a bonus-point win.

Their lead at the top of Conference B is still only three points over Munster, but perhaps more significantly they are now 13 clear of fourth-placed Connacht. A lot of work remains to be done, but all the signs are that Edinburgh are more than capable of doing it.

They scored five tries in the end – two of them penalty tries – with props Simon Berghan and Pierre Schoeman also crossing before Duhan van der Merwe rounded things off.

The outcome left Richard Cockerill satisfied enough, but the head coach also insisted that he was not about to get carried away with so much of the season still to play.

“We had a poor spell for about 10 minutes either side of half time,” he said. “If you make mistakes and let teams into your 22, they’ll punish you.

“But I’m delighted with the win. I would have been happy with a 3-0 win, given the weather. To get a bonus point was pleasing and a little bit of a surprise, because Connacht are a good side.

“We won’t get too excited with where we are in the table. We’ll just look to keep a lid on things as much as we can and try to keep winning.

“There’s a good vibe around the club. To have that cushion over fourth place is good. It just frees you up a little bit. You’re going to have a bad day at the office at some point, but it’s nice to have the cushion to absorb that.”

Simon Hickey got the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties, then the first penalty try came when Matt Scott was tackled dangerously over the line as he tried to ground. That also produced the first of five yellow cards in the game, for Connacht’s Jack Carty, and Edinburgh soon pressed home their advantage when Berghan crossed from close range.

That should have been that for the first half, but a spilled restart by Bill Mata led to the first score for the visitors, credited to full-back Tiernan O’Halloran, minutes before the break.

Five minutes after the restart, O’Halloran again finished off from close range and Edinburgh knew they were in a tough contest.

They responded well, first stemming the tide and then getting back on top, with Schoeman getting their third try. Then, with quarter-of-an-hour to play they reclaimed their 20-point advantage. Building from a line-out on the left, they switched play after a few phases, and a long pass from Hickey found Van der Merwe. The winger made a beeline for the try line, and although John Porch did his best to wrest the ball from his grasp, the Edinburgh man just managed to touch down.

Eroni Sau was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Tom Daly inside the final 10 minutes, and was followed into the bin by Nick Haining and Eoghan Masterson after a scrap broke out, then by Conor Fitzgerald for a trip on Charlie

Shiel. By the time of that last offence, Edinburgh had been awarded another penalty try, this time after a five-metre scrum had been dragged down by a despairing Connacht offence.

A tricky match had been negotiated, another winning bonus point was in the bag, and that place in the play-offs had moved a little bit closer.

Scorers, Edinburgh – Tries: penalty try 2, Berghan, Schoeman, Van der Merwe. Cons: Hickey 3. Pens: Hickey 2.

Connacht - Tries: O’Halloran 2. Cons: Carty 2.

Edinburgh: D Hoyland, E Sau, M Bennett, M Scott (G Taylor 30), D van der Merwe; S Hickey (J van der Walt 73), N Groom (captain, C Shiel 66); P Schoeman (D Winning 74), M Willemse (C Fenton 66), S Berghan (M McCallum 66), S South (J Hodgson 74), L Carmichael, N Haining (J Barclay 54), L Crosbie, V Mata.

Connacht: T O’Halloran, N Adeolokun, K Godwin, P Robb, J Porch; J Carty (C Fitzgerald 55), K Marmion (C Blade 54); D Buckley, S Delahunt (J Murphy 55), F Bealham (D Robertson-McCoy 5), N Murray (E Masterson 50), J Maksymiw, P Boyle (E McKeon 63), C Fainga’a, J Butler (captain).

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy). Attendance: 5,367.