Pro12: Connacht 43-3 Zebre

Connacht's Mils Muliaina is tackled by Zebre pair Andries van Schalkwyk and Oliviero Fabiani
Connacht's Mils Muliaina is tackled by Zebre pair Andries van Schalkwyk and Oliviero Fabiani
Connacht (17) 43
Tries: Poolman, Kearney, Penalty, J. Cooney, Carty Cons: Porter, Nikora, Carty Pens: Porter 4
Ospreys (3) 3
Pens: Odiete

Connacht cruised to a bonus-point Pro12 victory over Italian strugglers Zebre at the Sportsground.

Danie Poolman's 27th-minute try was supplemented by four Ian Porter penalties as the hosts built a 17-3 half-time lead in very wet conditions.

Connacht started the second half with a Michael Kearney maul try and they capitalised on two Zebre yellow cards to claim a penalty try.

Replacements John Cooney and Jack Carty also touched down.

Good Connacht handling in the heavy rain set up two early long-range penalties which Porter pushed wide although he succeeded with a third attempt.

David Odiete levelled in the 17th minute before Porter responded two minutes later.

Zebre, who were missing 13 Italian internationals, continued to concede penalties and flanker Filippo Cristiano was sin-binned for a maul infringement.

Connacht's powerful scrum provided the platform for the opening try and wing Poolman, who was fed by debutant Mils Muliaina, stepped inside Hendrik Daniller's challenge in the right corner to score an unconverted effort.

Porter added two more penalties before the break and a terrific driving maul resulted in Kearney crashing over for a seven-pointer early in the second half.

Connacht stepped up the intensity entering the closing 20 minutes, as forwards Andries Ferreira (collapsing a maul) and Andrea Lovotti (bringing down a five-metre scrum) were sent to the bin in quick succession.

Referee Ben Whitehouse awarded a try for at the next scrum, and Cooney soon registered the bonus point following a neat interchange with man-of-the-match George Naoupu off the side of a scrum.

Edoardo Padovani's dropped pass was hacked on by Carty, who showed impressive dribbling skills to finish off his 68th-minute try, which he converted for a 40-point winning margin.

Connacht: Muliaina, Poolman, Aki, McSharry, Healy, Nikora, Porter, Buckley, Harris-Wright, Loughney, Kearney, Roux, Muldoon, Faloon, Naoupu.

Replacements: D. Leader for Muliaina (68), Carty for Nikora (68), J. Cooney for Porter (52), McCartney for Harris-Wright (31), Bealham for Loughney (55), Browne for Kearney (57), E. McKeon for Faloon (55). Not Used: Heffernan.

Zebre: Daniller, Odiete, Bisegni, Pratichetti, Visentin, Padovani, Leonard, De Marchi, Fabiani, Redolfini, Ferreira, Bernabo, M. Bergamasco, Cristiano, van Schalkwyk.

Replacements: Chillon for Leonard (70), Lovotti for De Marchi (49), Santamaria for Fabiani (47), Leibson for Redolfini (46), Steyn for M. Bergamasco (32), J. Sarto for van Schalkwyk (40). Not Used: Berryman, M. Bergamasco.

Sin Bin: Cristiano (27), Ferreira (64), Lovotti (66)

Att: 6,956

Ref: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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