Connacht won their fourth GUINNESS PRO12 game of the season tonight with a 9 – 6 victory in round 6 away to Benetton Treviso.

It was a nervy finish for Pat Lam’s men at Stadio Monigo but the visitors’ defense held strong to seal the win and come home with four points.

Inside centre Craig Ronaldson kicked three from five penalties for Connacht while New Zealand born full back Hayden Wayward kicked his own two for the hosts.  

Connacht enjoyed early possession but conceded a penalty on six minutes to allow Hayward kick the first points between the posts.

Five minutes later, Ronaldson had an opportunity to hit back from the tee but his first penalty effort was kicked wide of the target. But the Kildare man made up for it with an on-target attempt to level the scores just before the 20minute mark.

Connacht had the lions share of possession for the remainder of the opening half and the team will be frustrated after failing to capitalise on a number of scoring opportunities, particularly following line breaks from Jack Carty and man of the match Darragh Leader. And each time the visitors looked to burrow their way towards the Treviso line, the hosts managed to scramble back and defend.

A sudden counter-attack mid way through the first half almost saw the Italians cross for a try through Michele Campagnaro but it was scrum half Kieran Marmion who managed to dart back and cover with a timely tackle. The TMO confirmed to referee David Wilkinson that the Italian winger was short of the line.

On the front foot, Carty kicked the team to touch and a Treviso infringement at the breakdown allowed Ronaldson to double his tally from the tee to make it 6 – 3 after on the half hour mark.

But just before the break, Hayward levelled things up when his side’s second excursion into the Connacht half yielded a penalty at the ruck.

Half time: Treviso 6 – 6 Connacht

It was a scrappy start to the second half and Connacht were frustrated when their scrum was turned over and Treviso kicked for territory. The hosts started to grow in confidence with go-forward ball and when Connacht were found guilty of a side entry, Hayward had a chance to kick for a lead but it was wide of the posts for the fullback on 54 minutes.

Both sides were temporarily reduced to 14 men after an off-the-ball scuffle between Marmion and Treviso out half Sam Christie and but the deadlock was upheld during their 10 minutes in the sin bin.

Forward replacements were brought on in the form of Ronan Loughney, Aly Muldowney and Willie Faloon and a strong Connacht maul saw Treviso pinged for a side entry which gave Ronaldson another shot at goal. The former Lansdowne outhalf slotted the only points of the second half to bring Connacht 9 – 6 up on 67 minutes.

Five minutes later, Treviso were off their feet but Ronaldson’s attempt to extend the lead was wide of the posts to leave the game open for a nail-biting finish.

In the final moments of the game, Treviso grabbed possession and showed determination in going through the phases. Piling forward into the Connacht 22, they edged their way to the try line but Connacht held strong and managed to turn over the ball and allow Carty to boot the ball clear. A Treviso lineout 18 metres from the try line was the last play of the game but Connacht managed to disrupt and steal the ball at the back. Pat Lam’s men held to secure the tight win.

Full time: Treviso 6 – 9 Connacht

TREVISO: Jayden Hayward; Ludovico Nitoglia,  Luca Morisi,  Enrico Bacchin (Simone Ragusi’ ’71),  Michele Campagnaro; Sam Christie (YC ’60),  Edoardo Gori (Alberto Lucchese ’68); Matteo Zanusso (Albert Anae ’66),  Davide Giazzon,  Rupert Harden (Romulo Acosta ’66); Marco Fuser (Tomas Vallejos Cinalli ’66),  Corniel Van Zyl (capt.) (Antonio Pavanello ’41); Simone Favaro,  Alessandro Zanni,  Mat Luamanu (Francesco Minto ’42).

Replacements not used: Amar Kudin.

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader (Dave McSharry ’73); Niyi Adeolokun (Danie Poolman ’57),  Robbie Henshaw,  Craig Ronaldson,  Matt Healy (Danie Poolman ’13-’20 blood sub); Jack Carty,  Kieran Marmion (YC ’60; Denis Buckley (Ronan Loughney ’63),  Shane Delahunt (Dave Heffernan ’35-’40 concussion bin, ’52 permanent),  Rodney Ah You (Finlay Bealham ’73); Mick Kearney,  Quinn Roux (Aly Muldowney ’54); John Muldoon (capt.), Eoin McKeon,  George Naoupu (Willie Faloon ’65).

Replacements not used: Ian Porter.

Man of the Match: Darragh Leader

Referee: David Wilkinson [IRFU].


Eoin De Buitléar signs first Professional contract with Connacht Rugby