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Debutant Muliaina not on the score-sheet, but Connacht put 43 points on Zebre

The All Black legend played a part in the opening try of the night and was called ashore as Lam’s men ran riot.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Connacht 43

Zebre 3

ALL EYES WERE on Connacht fullback Mils Muliaina tonight, and the 100-cap All Black showed a glimpse of his ability before the Westerners claimed a hard fought bonus point victory.

After 12 months out with an elbow  injury, the New Zealander made his long-awaited bow in the green of Connacht in the Pro12 clash with Zebre.

Understandably, the 34-year-old was not instantly at his best, but his class showed in the 27th minute when he provided the pass for Danie Poolman, who stepped inside the last defender and grounded the game’s first try while flanker Filippo Christiano was in the sin bin.

Danie Poolman scores his side's first try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

By that stage, Ian Porter had kicked two penalties to David Odiete’s one. And after the conversion marked Porter’s third missed kick of the night, the scrum-half made amends by adding six more points before the half-time break to send the hosts in with a 17 – 3 lead at the break.

In difficult conditions at the Sportsground, the onus was put on the pack to turn up the pressure on the Italian visitors and a powerful maul yielded a try for Mick Kearney six minutes in to the second period.

Ill discipline began to cost Zebre on the hour mark as both Andries Ferreira and Andrea Lovotti were yellow carded as Pat Lam’s men set up camp in opposition territory. The pressure eventually resulted in a penalty try.

That score was the end of Muliaina’s night as Ireland’s unused squad member Darragh Leader was sent in to the fray. Within a minute, it was another replacement who made the difference however, scrum-half John Cooney scampering down the right wing to claim the bonus point on his home debut.

Connacht were soon taken across the 40-point mark as Jack Carty raced on to a loose ball 35 metres from home and showed good control to kick the ball on a number of times before getting the touchdown.

Scorers

Connacht

Tries: D Poolman, M Kearney, Penalty, J Cooney, J Carty.

Conv: I Porter, M Nikora, J Carty.

Penalties: I Porter (4)

Zebre

Penalty: D Odiete

Two tries from Duncan Casey help Munster to bonus point victory over Dragons

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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