RaboDirect Pro12: Connacht 13-15 Benetton Treviso

Brett Wilkinson in action against Treviso
Connacht's Brett Wilkinson attempts to make ground for Connacht

Benetton Treviso continued their impressive form in the Pro12 by earning a hard-fought win over Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway.

Tries by Brendan Williams and Tommaso Iannone, plus a penalty and a conversion by Willem de Waal helped the Italian side to a 15-7 half-time lead.

Dave McSharry touched down for the Irish province's only try, fly-half Niall O'Connor converting.

O'Connor added two penalties to earn Connacht a losing bonus point.

The sluggish home side gave the Italians a 15-0 headstart as wingers Williams and Iannone crossed the whitewash.

A terrific individual effort from McSharry closed the deficit to eight points by half-time, taking advantage of Fabio Semenzato's sin-binning.

O'Connor landed two second-half penalties while Manoa Vosawai was yellow carded, but knock ons and turnovers in the wet and windy conditions blighted Connacht's attempts to stave off their eighth successive defeat.

The westerners faced into driving sheets of rain in the first half but made a positive start.

John Muldoon was prominent in a couple of early drives before O'Connor knocked a tricky penalty attempt short.

Big Fijian Vosawai had to put in a vital tackle on the advancing McSharry, but Treviso took a 12th minute lead against the run of play.

De Waal punished the hosts for a lineout infringement and some electric interplay between the fast-breaking Ludovico Nitoglia and Williams then netted the game's first try.

Nitoglia scampered away from Tiernan O'Halloran, sparking a superb attack which split the Connacht defence and he passed for Williams to dot down by the posts.

The conversion was added by De Waal and the Italians took advantage of a hesitant Connacht back-line to pick off their second try.

The ball was hacked on twice before young winger Iannone won the foot race to touch down in the corner.

Connacht forwards heaped pressure on the visitors from the restart, scrum half Semenzato earning a yellow card for killing the ball close to his try-line.

McSharry weaved in and out to create the opening for his first try in Connacht colours, showing admirable strength to make it over as Treviso scrambled back.

Connacht began to use their maul to good effect either side of half-time, but O'Connor missed a kickable penalty wide after Paul Derbyshire was pinged at a ruck.

Treviso kept things tight, winning a scrum against the head and picking and driving downfield.

Yet Vosawai's carding for not rolling away allowed O'Connor squeeze the gap back to five points.

Rodney Ah You came off the home bench to solidify their scrum and David Gannon and Ray Ofisa increased their influence in the loose, with O'Connor firing over his second successful penalty.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, Connacht had enough momentum to get a winning score but they ruined a number of promising situations.

Muldoon's surging run was the best of them but the ball was duly fumbled and Treviso, with their forwards in abrasive form, tenaciously held on.


Connacht: Gavin Duffy (capt); Mark McCrea, Kyle Tonetti, Dave McSharry, Tiernan O'Halloran; Niall O'Connor, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Ethienne Reynecke, Ronan Loughney; Michael Swift, George Naoupu; Dave Gannon, John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa.

Replacements: Rodney Ah You for Loughney (54), Mick Kearney for Swift (70).

Not used: Adrian Flavin, Dennis Buckley, Eoghan Grace, Paul O'Donohoe, Matthew Jarvis, Fetu'u Vainikolo

Benetton Treviso: Ludovico Nitoglia; Tommaso Iannone, Ezio Galon, Andrea Pratichetti, Brendan Williams; Willem De Waal, Fabio Semenzato; Michele Rizzo (captain), Franco Sbaraglini, Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet; Francesco Minto, Benjamin Vermaak; Manoa Vosawai, Paul Derbyshire, Marco Filippucci

Replacements: Diego Vidal for Sbaraglini (65), Matteo Muccignat for Rouyet (67), Lorenzo Cittadini fro Rizzo (53), Corniel Van Zyl for Derbyshire (53), Valerio Bernabo for Vermaak (78), Kristopher Burton for Iannone (68)

Not used: Gonzalo Padro, Edoardo Gori

Attendance: 3,614

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

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