Planet Rugby

Connacht thrash Zebre

19th October 2013 15:32

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SKY_MOBILE Dan Parks Connacht

Dan Parks: 23 points

Connacht made light work of Zebre on Saturday, cruising to a 33-6 victory Heineken Cup over their Italy hosts at Stadio XXV Aprile.

Dan Parks took his kicking boots with him as he scored 23 points for the Irish side.

The visitors led from the outset as experienced fly-half Parks slotted over two penalties to just one from Luciano Orquera inside the opening 10 minutes.

And the Irishmen really took the error-strewn encounter by the scruff of the neck just before the half-hour mark as they were rewarded for their ambition in turning down a relatively simple three-point opportunity and kicking the ball deep into the corner instead.

Zebre's defence was at sixes and sevens from the resulting line-out and number eight George Naoupu had the easy task of claiming the ball virtually unchallenged and stretching out a long arm to touch down over the line.

Parks added the conversion and, despite a couple of decent chances to add a second try, Connacht had to settle for two more Parks penalties before the break to leave the score 19-3.

Connacht had beaten Zebre five times in the past year and a bit and a sixth victory never looked in any doubt throughout the second half but the Irish province showed no real intent to go in search of more tries and a potential bonus point.

Parks was in excellent form with the boot though and he kept the scoreboard ticking over and extended the away side's advantage with three more penalties, with just one in reply from Orquera.

Connacht did add some extra gloss with a second try late on as Mata Fifita, usually a centre, came on in the back row and found himself on the end of a clever line-out move to crash over the line.

Both sides are struggling with just one win apiece in the PRO12 and neither will have been expecting to emerge from a group involving the mighty Toulouse and Saracens.

However, a comprehensive away win will have boosted Connacht's confidence and it means they are still very much in the hunt and will be heavy favourites to finish third in Pool 3 if nothing else.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Pens: Orquera 2

For Connacht:
Tries: Naoupu, Fifita
Cons: Parks
Pens: Parks 7

Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 David Odiete, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samu Vunisa, 7 Dries van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (capt), 4 Mike Van Vuren, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Kameli Ratuvou, 23 Leonardo Sarto.

Connacht: 15 James So'oialo, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu. 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Craig Clarke, 4 Michael Swift (capt), 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris Wright, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Ally Muldowney, 20 Mata Fifita, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Dave McSharry, 23 Gavin Duffy,

Venue: Stadio XXV Aprile
Referee: Ian Davies

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