Connacht recorded a four-try victory away to Zebre this afternoon to push up the PRO12 table to 10thplace above next week’s opponents Benetton Treviso.

Tries from Rodney Ah You, Kieran Marmion, and Eoin Griffin as well as a penalty try awarded in the first half secured the bonus point for Pat Lam’s side. Outhalf Dan Parks kicked seven points during the province’s fourth win of the season over Italian side Zebre. 

Parks put the first points on the board, splitting the posts with a penalty kick on two minutes. Just five minutes later, a driving maul from the lineout allowed Man of the Match Ah You to touch down for the opening try. Parks’ conversion attempt was wide.

Zebre enjoyed some possession in the Connacht half and won a penalty at the scrum. Former Connacht back Troy Nathan, playing with Zebre today from Lazio Rugby, stepped up to take the penalty but was off target and his side remained scoreless.

An impressive break from winger Fionn Carr brought play up in to the Zebre 22 and a series of Connacht scrums followed. Zebre’s prop Salvatore Perugini was punished with a yellow card for numerous infringements. A 5metre scrum allowed scrum half Marmon to dive over for try number two. Parks was on target with the conversion kick.

Zebre fought to strike back immediately and they celebrated a try through replacement prop Andrea de Marchi in the corner. But on consulting the TMO, the referee Ian Davies ruled that his foot had gone into touch as a result of a try-saving tackle from Tiernan O’Halloran.

Turning over Zebre ball in midfield, Griffin made a huge break on the half hour mark, offloading to his centre partner Dave McSharry. Winning a penalty in the opposition 22, Connacht once again showed their dominance at the scrum. Referee Davies had no choice but to award the penalty try, which Parks converted with ease.

Half time score: Zebre 0 – 22 Connacht

Connacht secured the bonus point with try number four coming 16 minutes into the second half. Parks regathered his own up and under kick and passed to Griffin for the centre to cross in the left-hand corner. The conversion was kicked wide but Zebre were still scoreless after 55 minutes.

However, the Italian side found their stride in the second half when winger Giovanbattista Venditti got his side on the scoreboard with a try in the corner, which Nathan converted.

It wasn’t long until they closed the gap even further when a well-worked move from a 5 metre lineout allowed Number 8 Samuela Vunisa to get over the line. However, the conversion was missed.

With just two minutes remaining, Zebre pushed Connacht even closer when their captain Andries Van Schalkwyk crossed for his side’s third try in 20 minutes.

Replacement back Alberto Chillon added the extras but the hosts finished eight points down and empty-handed at the full time whistle.

Full time score: Zebre 19 – 27 Connacht

Attendance: 1, 841

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales).

Man of the Match: Rodney Ah You

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). Not used: Giovanchelli, Bisegni. Sin bin: Perugini (25).

CONNACHT: D Leader, O’Halloran, E. Griffin, McSharry, Carr, Parks, Marmion, Buckley, Harris-Wright, Ah You, Swift, Kearney, Browne, Masteron, Muldoon. Replacements: Heffernan for Harris-Wright (56), Bealham for Buckley (74), Cooney for Ah You (71), Muldowney for Swift (49), Naoupu for Masterson (56), Nikroa (for Marmion (67), Poolman for E. Griffin (62), Not used: O’Donohoe.


Gallery: 6 Nations and Celtic Challenge