The Grateful Eight! Connacht put up 52 points against hapless Zebre

Zebre hooker Olivero Fabiani was sent off for biting in the first half in Parma.

John Muldoon celebrates with Stacey Ili, who finished with three tries.
John Muldoon celebrates with Stacey Ili, who finished with three tries.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

Zebre 7

Connacht 52

– John Fallon reports from the Stadio Lanfranchi

CONNACHT’S HOPES OF reaching the knockout stages of the Champions Cup remain firmly on course after they picked up maximum points in Parma.

Pat Lam’s men will now go into the December clashes with Wasps with nine points in the bag after seeing off a disappointing Zebre side.

Connacht, who wore red armbands on their black shirts in honour of Anthony Foley, knew they needed to get on top from the outset and not allow the Italians get a foothold in the game.

Last month Zebre led 22-10 at the break when their league clash was abandoned due to a storm, but the Italians were on the back foot from the start in this one.

Connacht hit them for two tries in a three-minute spell to surge 14-0 in front after 13 minute

Stacey Ili crowned his first start for Connacht with a try when he superbly collected a neat grubber from Jack Carty to score in the left corner.

Craig Ronaldson, who landed the winner against Toulouse last weekend, converted from the touchline.

Zebre’s hopes of responding suffered a massive blow almost immediately when Peter Robb executed a superb hit on Carlo Canna in midfield for Carty to race through and score.

However, the tempo went out of the game after that. Connacht flanker SeanO’Brien was binned for a deliberate knock-on and then Zebre hooker Olivero Fabiani was red-carded for foul play in an incident on the ground with Quinn Roux.

It was 14-0 at the break but Connacht had the bonus point in the bag inside eleven minutes of the restart.

Ili got his second when he collected and finished a superb crosskick from Carty.
The binning of centre Tommaso Castello meant it was 13 against 15 and there was no surprise when Connacht got the bonus point through a penalty try.

They continued to turn the screw with Cian Kelleher finishing off a fine move before replacement prop Conor Carey got their sixth try to make it 38-0 after 56 minutes.
Kelleher got his second try of the contest six minutes from time when he scored Connacht’s seventh in the right corner.

Ili completed his hat-trick two minutes from the end as Connacht kept pushing forward to the end.

Zebre scorers

Tries: Tommaso d’Apice
Conversions: Edoardo Padovani

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Connacht scorers

Tries: Stacey Ili (3) Cian Kelleher (2), Jack Carty, Conor Carey, Penalty try.
Conversions: Craig Ronaldson (5), Shane O’Leary (1)

Zebre: Edoardo Padovani; Gabriele di Giulio (Giovanni d’Onofrio ’43), Giulio Bisegni, Tommy Castello (Tommaso Boni ’59), Giambattista Venditti; Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi (Guglielmo Palazzani ’58); Andrea Lovotti (Bruno Postiglioni ’66), Oliviero Fabiani, Pietro Ceccarelli (Guillermo Roan ’55); Quintin Geldenhuys, George Biagi (capt) (Josh Furno ’52), Maxime Mbanda (Tommaso d’Apice ’33), Johan Meyer, Dries van Schalkwyk (Federico Ruzza ’63).

Connacht: Cian Kelleher; Niyi Adeolokun (Danie Poolman ’55), Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson (Shane O’Leary ’57), Stacey Ili; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade ’57); JP Cooney (Conor Carey ’49), Shane Delahunt (Dave Heffernan ’52), Finlay Bealham (JP Cooney ’72); Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne (Ultan Dillane ’59), Sean O’Brien, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt) (Eoin McKeon ’58).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

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John Fallon

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