Heineken Cup: Zebre 10-19 Connacht
ZEBRE (3) 10
CONNACHT (9) 19
- Parks 4
Connacht got their Heineken Cup campaign off to a winning start with a scrappy victory over tournament newcomers Zebre in Parma.
John Muldoon's 62nd-minute try finally enabled the Irish side to turn their second-half superiority into points.
Former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks kicked three first half penaltes and ended with 14 points for the winners.
Daniel Halangahu missed a couple of crucials penalties for Zebre who had Mauro Bergamasco harshly sin-binned.
Connacht's early endeavour was rewarded with a fourth-minute penalty from Parks but that proved to be a rare first-half venture in Zebre territory for the Irish outfit.
For the remainder of the half most of the play belonged to the home side as they used their solid line-out platform to build pressure.
Quintin Geldenhuys and Bergamasco carried to great effect but basic errors proved costly as four visits to the Connacht 22 yielded just one Daniel Halangahu penalty.
The Zebre full-back missed two other kicks at goal during the first half and after 17 minutes, Connacht turned a brief foray into home territory into three more points from the boot of Parks to restore their lead.
On the stroke of half-time, the vastly experienced Bergamasco was penalised for a tackle on Tiernan O'Halloran that was somewhat harshly deemed to be a 'tip tackle'.
Referee Leighton Hodges sin-binned the 93-times capped Italy international and Parks kicked a brilliant penalty from the halfway line for a six-point buffer at the break.
On the hour mark, Eric Elwood's men earned a penalty from a five-metre scrum after sustained pressure and opted to stretch the lead to two scores through the boot of Parks.
That settled nerves and barely two minutes later a turnover in the Connacht 22 led to the game's first try with Muldoon scoring after taking a quick tap penalty.
Zebre replied with a converted try from replacement flanker Filippo Ferranini in the 72nd minute, but the hosts could not get any closer in the remaining time.
Zebre: D Halangahu; G Venditti, M Pratichetti, G Garcia, S Sinoti; L Orquera, T Tebaldi; S Perugini, D Giazzon, L Redolfini; Q Geldenhuys, J Sole; N Belardo, M Bergamaso, D van Schalkwyk
Replacements: L Sarto for Sinoti 64, R Trevisan for Orquera 65, L Martinelli for Tebaldi 65, M Aguero for Perugini 56, C Festuccia for Giazzon 52, C Fazzari for Redolfini 52, M Van Vuren for Sole 69, F Ferrarini for Belardo 52.
Sin Bin: Bergamasco (40).
Connacht: R Henshaw; T O'Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; D Buckley, E Reynecke, N White; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, W Faloon, G Naoupu
Replacements: M Fifita for McSharry 70, R Loughney for Buckley 64, D Gannon for Swift 70, J O'Connor for Faloon 58
Not Used: A Flavin, R Ah You, D Moore, M Nikora.