Paul Boyle's brace leads Connacht to bonus-point win

Paul Boyle's brace leads Connacht to bonus-point win
Connacht's Paul Boyle scores a try. Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Paul Boyle's first-half brace of tries put Connacht on course for a 32-13 bonus-point win over Zebre at a rain-hit Sportsground.

The 21-year-old back-rower scored twice on only his second Guinness PRO14 start for Connacht, who led 17-3 at half-time with Jack Carty kicking seven points and his opposite number Carlo Canna landing a penalty.

A first competitive victory for Connacht's new head coach Andy Friend was sealed by further tries from Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin and Niyi Adeolokun, before Giulio Bisegni, adding to a second Canna penalty, claimed a late seven-pointer for well-beaten Zebre.

Bouncing back from last week's narrow loss to Glasgow Warriors, Connacht were 10 points up in as many minutes.

Man-of-the-match Boyle burst onto captain Jarrad Butler's hanging pass to reach over and Carty neatly converted, supplementing his earlier penalty.

Zebre disrupted the hosts' lineout but Connacht were very much on top in the scrum, with 21-year-old tighthead Giosue Zilocchi under regular pressure.

The set-piece platform, combined with an improved maul, paved the way for Boyle's 20th-minute effort, the young number eight stretching over past George Biagi and David Sisi.

After Carty converted again from the left, Zebre got their attack firing with Canna knocking over a central 25th-minute penalty.

They were denied a maul opportunity by a Boyle lineout steal, while their new Tongan flanker Matu Tevi lost control of the ball on the try-line before a prior infringement by Andrea Lovotti was spotted on the TMO review.

Zebre leaked a fifth scrum penalty before the break, and although Carty's kick curled narrowly wide, Connacht's stranglehold of the scrum saw Zilocchi binned five minutes into the second half. Hooker Oliviero Fabiani swiftly joined him in the bin for his late hit into Denis Buckley's back.

The 13 men held back Connacht's first surge but an advancing scrum set up Blade for a snappy finish in the right corner.

Canna pulled back three points after Dave Heffernan was slow to roll away and Zilocchi and Fabiani returned with Michael Bradley's men still in the contest.

However, right on the hour mark, Carty brilliantly dangled a kick through for centre Griffin to slide onto and score in the left corner.

Australian flanker Colby Fainga'a came on to make his Connacht debut before Boyle teed up try number five from replacement Adeolokun.

Finishing strongly, Zebre could have had two late tries but had to settle for one from Bisegni who dived over from replacement Guglielmo Palazzani's threaded kick towards the posts.

More on this topic

Connacht coach Friend targeting an overdue win in WalesConnacht coach Friend targeting an overdue win in Wales

Three changes for Connacht's first home game of the seasonThree changes for Connacht's first home game of the season

Carty gaining ground in Ireland’s weapons race at 10Carty gaining ground in Ireland’s weapons race at 10

Friend: We are trying to build depth of squadFriend: We are trying to build depth of squad

More in this Section

Sheffield United striker charged with drink-drivingSheffield United striker charged with drink-driving

Two arrested over ‘racist abuse’ at FA Cup matchTwo arrested over ‘racist abuse’ at FA Cup match

World Rugby investigating photo of referee Peyper ‘mocking Vahaamahina elbow’World Rugby investigating photo of referee Peyper ‘mocking Vahaamahina elbow’

Onus now rests on Croke Park to make Tier 2 a successOnus now rests on Croke Park to make Tier 2 a success


Lifestyle

As he prepares to stand down at Wexford Festival Opera, director David Agler tells Cathy Desmond about the highlights of his 15 years at the helmAll set for his swansong: Director David Agler highlights 15 years at Wexford Festival Opera

Volunteers from the multinational tech company harvest food fresh from Fota Gardens, writes Peter Dowdall.Made in Munster: The tech giant Apple harvesting food from Fota Gardens

Peter Dowdall takes a look at a plant that thrives in damp soil and is a key part of Ireland’s biodiversityThe wonders of willows: A key part of Ireland’s biodiversity

Pollutants can have an impact on your health, but there are things you can do to reduce the potential damage.High pollution days ‘lead to more cardiac arrests and strokes’: 5 easy ways to protect yourself

More From The Irish Examiner