Zebre 19 Connacht 27
Connacht put back-to-back Pro12 wins together for the first time this season after producing a dominant display over fellow strugglers Zebre in Italy yesterday.
In grabbing their first four-try bonus point of the season, Connacht put some distance between themselves and bottom-of-the-table Zebre, and also leapfrogged Treviso to move into 10th place in the RaboDirect Pro 12 table.
It was the exactly the result Connacht coach Pat Lam had sought and was once again fashioned by forwards coach Dan McFarland with three first-half tries from the pack. Their domination in the set piece, particularly the scrum, and Connacht led 8-0 after five minutes. An early Dan Parks penalty was swiftly followed by the first try when prop Rodney Ah You touched down from a lineout and drive. Connacht capitalised on three successive penalties and a sin-binning for Zebre prop Salvatore Perugini to grab the second try after 25 minutes. Scrum-half Kieron Marmion dived over from an unstoppable scrum, with Parks adding the extras for a 15-0 lead. And before the break Connacht were awarded a penalty try to lead 22-0.
The fourth try and bonus came courtesy of the backs with London Irish-bound Eoin Griffin crossing in the 55th minute.
Having left a try and penalty behind them in the opening half, Zebre grabbed three tries in the second half, but it was little consolation.
In yesterday’s other game, Newport Gwent Dragons inflicted just the third defeat of the Pro12 season on Glasgow Warriors with a 24-23 win.
Zebre scorers: Tries: Venditti, Vunisa, van Schalkwyk. Cons: Nathan, Chillon.
ZEBRE: Trevisan, Berryman, Ratuvou, Quartaroli, Venditti, Nathan, Leonard, Perugini, T. D’Apice, Chistolini, van Vuren, Biagi, Caffini, van Schalkwyk, Vunisa.
Replacements: Toniolatti for Trevisan (54), Chillon for Nathan (71), De Marchi for Perugini (55), Redolfini for Chistolini (49), Cazzola for van Vuren (71), Saccardo for Caffini (49).
Connacht scorers: Tries: Ah You, Marmion, Penalty try, E. Griffin. Cons: Parks 2. Pens: Parks
CONNACHT: D. Leader, O’Halloran, E. Griffin, McSharry, Carr, Parks, Marmion, Buckley, Harris-Wright, Ah You, Swift, Kearney, Browne, Masteron, Muldoon.
Replacements: Poolman for E. Griffin (62), Bealham for Buckley (74), Heffernan for Harris-Wright (56), Cooney for Ah You (71), Muldowney for Swift (49), Naoupu for Muldoon (56).
Ref: Ian Davies (Wales).
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