Planet Rugby

Zebre pipped at Connacht

01st March 2013 21:34

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Dan Parks

Late kicks: Dan Parks

Zebre were once again denied a first PRO12 victory as they fell to a 23-19 defeat at Connacht on Friday, despite being ahead with five minutes to go.

Converted tries from Eoin McKeon and Gavin Duffy took the Irish province into a 14-13 half-time lead.

Leonardo Sarto's touchdown and two Paolo Buso penalties was the Italian side's response before the break.

Dan Parks stretched the hosts' lead in the second period before successive three-pointers from Buso and Gonzalo Garcia took Zebre ahead.

But the nerveless Parks was the hero as he added a drop-goal and a penalty to snatch the win.

The visitors went into this match having lost in heart-breaking fashion to the Dragons the previous week. And the league's bottom club fell behind early in this encounter against Connacht when McKeon powered over and Parks added the extras as the home side led 7-0 after just three minutes.

However, Zebre responded with a Buso penalty before Duffy's converted try extended the advantage to 14-3. But it was the Italian outfit which looked the more threatening from there on in.

They duly reduced the deficit to one point at the interval through Sarto's touchdown and the boot of their stand-off.

Parks briefly settled the nerves with an early three-pointer in the second half, but it was the visitors that continued to press.

Buso took the score to 17-16 before the boot of Garcia took them into the lead for the first time and it looked like they were going to garner their first win. Connacht's pivot was the saviour, though, as he kicked a drop-goal and penalty late on.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: McKeon, Duffy
Con: Parks 2
Pen: Parks 2
Drop: Parks

For Zebre:
Try: Sarto
Con: Buso
Pen: Buso 3, Garcia

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Gavin Duffy (c), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 TJ Anderson, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Zebre: 15 Alberto Benettin, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Paolo Buso, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Dries van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Josh Sole, 3 Dave Ryan, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Andrea de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Alberto Chiesa, 23 Samuele Pace.

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant referees: Michael Black (Ireland), Ed Kenny (both Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

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