Cian O’Connell reports from The Sportsground
CRAIG RONALDOSN KICKED 18 points as Connacht claimed a sixth win in seven games to go top of the Guinness Pro12 table.
It was a hard-earned home success for Connacht, who received a stern examination early on from a gritty Treviso outfit.
Three opening-period Craig Ronaldson penalties ensured Connacht departed at the break armed with a 9-5 advantage, as a plucky Treviso caused the home team problems.
Ronaldson slotted two penalties before Treviso pounced for a splendid 27th-minute try which put Connacht under pressure. A smart break from Andrea Pratichetti crafted space for full-back Jayden Hayward, who scampered clear to touch down.
Hayward missed the subsequent conversion as Treviso were proving to be awkward opponents, while Ronaldson’s 37th-minute penalty was the last score of the first-half.
Three minutes after the restart, Irish international Robbie Henshaw marked his return to Connacht action with a smashing try which was expertly converted by Ronaldson.
Treviso continued to be defiant, though, as Hayward skipped through under the posts for a 48th-minute try as the deficit was trimmed to 16-12.
Connacht responded as a clever line-out involving skipper John Muldoon culminated with a gorgeous try by replacement hooker Tom McCartney, with Ronaldson adding the extras.
USA international AJ MacGinty made his debut as a replacement for Connacht, who edged further ahead in the closing stages as Ronaldson nailed a penalty.
That score was followed by a 76th-minute Matt Healy try, with Ronaldson clipping the conversion from an acute angle.
Connacht went furiously searching for a bonus point, but Treviso replacement Edoardo Gori grabbed a last-gasp consolation try for the visitors.
Scorers for Connacht: Robbie Henshaw try; Tom McCartney try; Matt Healy try; Craig Ronaldson 4 penalties, 3 conversions.
Scorers for Treviso: Jayden Hayward 2 tries; 2 conversions; Edoardo Gori try.
15. Robbie Henshaw
14. Tiernan O’Halloran
13. Bundee Aki
12. Craig Ronaldson
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. John Cooney
1. Denis Buckley
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Nathan White
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Andrew Browne
6. John Muldoon
7. Nepia Fox-Matamua
8 Eoin McKeon
18. Finlay Bealham for White (33 mins)
21. Kieran Marmion for Cooney (38 mins)
16. Tom McCartney for Heffernan (51 mins)
2. Dave Heffernan for McCartney (53 mins)
19. Aly Muldowney for Dillane (56 mins)
20. Eoghan Masteron for Fox-Matamua (62 mins)
22. AJ MacGinty for Carty (64 mins)
23. Darragh Leader for O’Halloran (73 mins)
17. Conan O’Donnell for Buckley (74 mins)
15. Jayden Hayward
14. Andrea Pratichetti
13. Tommaso Iannone
12. Enrico Bacchin
11. Simone Ragusi
10. Luke McClean
9. Alberto Lucchese
1. Matteo Zanusso
2. Luca Bigi
3. Simone Ferrari
4. Filo Paulo
5. Jean Francois Montauriol
6. Marco Barbini
7. Alessandro Zanni
8. Jurgens Steyn
22. Edoardo Gori for Luchesse (38 mins)
19. Serge Budd for Zanni (44 mins)
16. Davide Giazzon for Bigi (46 mins)
20. Marco Lazzaroni for Barbini (61 mins)
17. Matteo Muccignat for Zanusso (65 mins)
23. Sam Christie for Bacchin (68 mins)
21. Andrea De Marchi for Paulo (79 mins)
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)