Connacht kept their unbeaten home record intact with a comprehensive 43 – 3 win over Zebre at the Sportsground tonight.

New Connacht players Mils Muliaina, Bundee Aki and Tom McCartney all tasted victory on their home debuts as Pat Lam’s men chalked up a bonus point win in round 8 of the GUINNESS PRO12.

Scrum half Ian Porter, on kicking duties tonight, missed two attempts from the tee inside the opening ten minutes but the Banbridge native made up for it when he found target on 14 minutes to open the scoring. Zebre wing David Odiete got his side on the board, profiting from a poor Connacht lineout but Porter hit back almost immediately with a three-pointer when the visitors were pinged for being offside.

Connacht clearly dominated in possession and territory but were failing to make the most of their opportunities until Zebre flanker Filippo Cristiano was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements by his team.

Connacht’s first ever All Black was instrumental in setting up the opening try as he delayed his pass on the 22m line before setting up right wing Danie Poolman to dive over in the corner for his third try of the season.

Porter missed the conversion, though did add two more penalties before half-time to give his side a 17-3 advantage, as Odiete missed a chance to reduce the arrears with the final action of the opening period.

Connacht 17 – 3 Zebre

Connacht were out of the blocks quickly in the second half and profited from an early lineout in the opposition 22. A powerful maul was unstoppable and lock Mick Kearney carried the ball over for his side’s second try. Porter nailed the conversion 5m in from the touchline.

Odiete thought he had crossed in the corner to reduce the arrears, though his foot was adjudged to have hit the touchline after consultation with the TMO and his score was chalked off.

Zebre’s chances of launching a comeback were wiped out with two players – Andries Ferreira and Andrea Lovotti – sent to the sin bin inside two minutes and a penalty try duly followed. Nikora tapped the conversion.

The home side turned the screw when replacement scrum half John Cooney – on loan from Leinster – picked up a perfect pass from Man of the Match George Naoupu at the base of the scrum and raced down the right to score on his Sportsground debut.

Replacement outhalf Jack Carty missed the chance to add the extra two points but the Athlone man made up for it when he pounced on a loose Zebre ball in midfield and chipped through three times to chase and touch down. He converted his own try on 69 minutes to complete the scoring.

Full time: Connacht 43 – 3 Zebre

Attendance: 5, 486

Man of the Match: George Naoupu


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