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Connacht edge gallant Zebre

18th January 2013 21:53

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Connacht s Mike McCarthy R

Win for Connacht: Mike McCarthy

Connacht needed two late three-pointers from Dan Parks to edge Zebre 25-20 in their Heineken Cup clash at the Sportsground on Friday.

Dan Parks, who returned to the side after missing last week's defeat to Harlequins, kicked two penalties to just one from Daniel Halangahu in the opening quarter of an hour as the home side dominated territory for the most part.

The visitors struggled to get out of their own 22 at times and didn't help themselves by conceding a string of penalties as well.

Parks didn't need the tee to take his tally for the evening to nine points though as he was afforded the time and space to knock over a drop goal from in front of the posts.

Halangahu kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Italians with another three points but Parks was doing a good job of pinning the opposition deep inside their own half with the boot and he had the final say of the first half from the tee to make it 12-6.

Connacht probably thought they had made the crucial breakthrough five minutes after the restart as the power of their pack proved too much in the scrum and the referee had no option but to award them a penalty try.

Zebre had other ideas, however, and their forwards responded in the best possible manner by marching straight back up the field and giving their kicker two penalty opportunities in quick succession to reduce the deficit to seven points.

And the Italian backs then did their bit as well, producing the moment of the match as they used the platform of a scrum in the centre of the pitch to launch an inspired move.

Giovanbattista Venditti found a gap in the defence and sprinted away before offloading to Matteo Pratichetti, who fed Ruggero Trevisan to score in the corner.

Halangahu missed the conversion from out wide but he made up for that moments later with another penalty that gave Zebre an unlikely lead with just 10 minutes left on the clock.

The Italians' ill-discipline cost them in the though and they let Connacht off the hook by conceding a penalty almost immediately, which Parks converted.

And the former Scotland international made sure that the home side did make it a total of three victories in this season's Heineken Cup and the visitors remain winless in all competitions with a second drop goal of the night five minutes from time.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Try: Penalty try
Con: Parks
Pens: Parks 4
Drops: Parks 2

For Zebre:
Try: Trevisan
Pens: Halangahu 5

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Andrew Browne, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris Wright,1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements:16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Danie Poolman

Zebre: 15 Tito Tebaldi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Ruggero Trevisan, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Filippo Ferrarini, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Emiliano Caffini, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Mike Van Vuren, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 David Ryan, 19 Nicola Belardo, 20 Andrea Manici, 21 Luca Martinelli, 22 Alberto Chiesa, 23 Samuele Pace.

Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Jean-Luc Rebollal (France), Cyril Lafon (France)
Television match official: Daniel Irazoqui (France)

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PosTeamPPts
8Edinburgh815
9Cardiff Blues88
10Dragons87
11Zebre85
12Treviso84