Connacht thrash Zebre in Parma

Date published: May 9 2015

Connacht outscored Zebre six tries to one on Saturday to win 40-10 in Saturday Pro12 clash at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

It took just over 10 minutes for Connacht to go over for the first time, and it came courtesy of Jack Cooney. The scrum-half was the beneficiary of Matt Healy's break downfield, as Healy offloaded to Cooney who did the business, before Jack Carty kicked through to give a sign of things to come.

Zebre were not totally dominated by the visitors, putting some decent pressure together after that first try, and they were even able to level after 25 minutes.

It came following another strong scrum, and despite the best efforts of Connacht's defence, Brendon Leonard worked his way through to cross the line. Luciano Orquera added the extra two points, and with a quarter of the game gone the two sides couldn't be separated.

That was until a minute later though, when Connacht went up the other end and restored their advantage. Healy went from provider to finisher in an attack started by a huge Rob Henshaw challenge that won back possession, allowing Healy the freedom of the field to sprint home from half way.

Henshaw's challenge came at a cost though, as he was immediately taken off for a concussion test.

Carty converted that one, and before half-time he had the chance at kicking through his third of the afternoon. Though Orquera had narrowed the scores with a penalty, Cooney grabbed his second try of the game thanks to some expert work from Ultan Dillane, Carty adding those extra two points as the Irish side went in 21-10 up.

The second half was not quite as action-packed, taking 15 minutes to have any more points added. But when they did come, it was again through Connacht who grabbed their fourth try.

After some heavy pressure that Zebre did well to hold up, a kick to the corner resulted in a driving maul that saw Eoghan Masterson touch down, Carty this time striking a post.

The hosts misery continued when they were reduced to 14 temporarily, Luca Redolfini sent to the sin bin for throwing punches.

The final 10 minutes compounded Zebre's misery and put further gloss on the scoreline for Connacht.

The first of two late tries came when Tiernan O'Halloran strode down the pitch in tandem with Kieran Marmion, and O'Halloran eventually evaded a challenge before crossing the line, allowing Conor McKeon to kick through his first Pro12 points after coming off the bench.

Try number six followed swiftly, Shane O'Leary this time the fifth different scorer of the afternoon just a minute after entering the fray.

He went through for a wonderful solo try after nipping through a gap in Zebre's defence, McKeon taking his success rate up to two from two in a hugely impressive performance from Connacht, who are still well in with a shout of a Champions Cup place.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Try: Leonard
Con: Orquera
Pen:  Orquera
Yellow card: Redolfini

For Connacht:
Tries: J.Cooney 2, Healy, Masterson, O'Halloran, O'Leary
Cons: Carty 3, C. McKeon

Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Michele Visentin, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco (c), 6 Filippo Cristiano, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Andrei Mahu, 20 Jacopo Sarto, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Alberto Chillon, 23 Mirco Bergamasco

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley 
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Conor McKeon, 23 Darragh Leader

Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Filippo Bertelli (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)