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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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Good afternoon and welcome to The42‘s live minute-by-minute coverage of Zebre v Connacht in Round 2 of the European Champions Cup.

Pat Lam’s side got off to a flying start in the Sportsground last weekend when they took a big scalp against Toulouse.

Now they’re in Italy hoping to follow up and make it two wins from two.

Kick-off is at 3.15pm.

TEAM NEWS: Here’s a reminder of the Connacht XV, with a first start for new signing Stacey Ili.

Connacht

15. Cian Kelleher
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Peter Robb
12. Craig Ronaldson
11. Stacey Ili
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

 

1. JP Cooney
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Quinn Roux
5. Andrew Browne
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
18. Conor Carey
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Eoin McKeon
21. Caolin Blade
22. Shane O’Leary
23. Bundee Aki

TEAM NEWS: Late change to the named Zebre team; Tommy Castello starts at 12 in place of Tommaso Boni.

Zebre

15. Edoardo Padovani
14. Gabriele Di Giulio
13. Giulio Bisegni
12. Tommy Castello
11. Giambattista Venditti
10. Carlo Canna
9. Marcello Violi

1. Andrea Lovotti
2. Oliviero Fabiani
3. Pietro Ceccarelli
4. Quintin Geldenhuys
5. George Biagi
6. Maxime Mbanda
7. Johan Meyer
8. Dries van Schalkwyk

Replacements:

16. Tommaso D’Apice
17. Bruno Postiglioni
18. Guillermo Roan
19. Josh Furno
20. Federico Ruzza
21. Guglielmo Palazzani
22. Tommaso Boni
23. Giovanni D’Onofrio

1Mins

KICK OFF: Jack Carty gets us underway and Zebre are immediately on the back foot.

The Connacht and Zebre teams observe a minutes silence for the late Munster Head Coach Anthony Foley Both sides observe a minute's silence in memory of Anthony Foley before kick off. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

2Mins

That’s a disaster for Zebre. A sloppy pass sees the ball bounces back off the base of the post, and they’re fortunate to snaffle it before Connacht do. Five metre scrum for the visitors and a great chance for an early score.

3Mins

TMO! Ronaldson has gone close there but we’ll need the TMO to check if he got it over the line. Was there a double movement?

3Mins

NO TRY! TMO says Ronaldson made a double movement as the Connacht support steamed in behind him to try to drive him over the line. Let off for Zebre.

5Mins

Great work by Connacht in the maul and they win put into the scrum, and then win a penalty - Lovotti the loosehead is pinged for coming around the outside of Bealham.

6Mins

Connacht choose not to go for the posts but Zebre manage to turn it over and kick it clear.

9Mins

Connacht in a good position about 10 metres out. Zebre try to go short to the front of the lineout but can’t secure possession and it’s a Connacht scrum.

Flag

TRY! Zebre 0-7 Connacht (Ili, 10′)

That Connacht pressure finally pays dividends and this has been coming. They work the ball through their hands and with acres of space out wide, Carty plays a lovely little grubber. It’s right in the corner but Stacey Ili scoops it up and puts it down.

Craig Ronaldson is on kicking duties today and he tacks on the extras.

Stacey Ili scores a try Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

Flag

TRY! Zebre 0-14 Connacht (Carty, 13′)

Sensational stuff as Connacht add a second — and they’re already half way to that bonus point.

Robb smashes outhalf Carlo Canna and as the ball bounces clear, Carty pounces. Once he gets going, nobody is getting close, and he races half the length of the pitch to touch down under the posts.

Ronaldson does the necessary and Connacht are flying.

Jack Carty scores a try Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

17Mins

The Zebre loosehead, Lovotti, is getting in all sorts of trouble at scrum time. He’s pinged again for not having his body angle correct and Connacht are able to kick play back down into the Zebre half.

19Mins

Zebre fans aren’t happy as they feel Carty played the man in the air but the referee is having none of it and allows play to continue.

22Mins

Oooooh! Zebre control the ball off the back of the scrum but the kick is charged down by Carty — Marmion hacks it clear towards the Zebre line but is just beaten to it by Padovani. The Zebre full-back carries it over the line thought and it’ll be scrum five.

25Mins

Zebre driving too early at the scrum but after a few resets, they get it right and Connacht get it away. They try to control it off the base of the scrum but it bobbles up off the Parma turf and is lost forward.

26Mins

This time, the scrum penalty goes against Connacht — it’s Bealham, I think, for coming in at an angle. Zebre kick it down towards half way and then win the lineout to give themselves a platform.

28Mins

Carty tries to kick for position but the bounce doesn’t go his away and bounces into the in-goal area. Zebre take the 22 dropout and Canna bursts through to make some good yards.

29Mins

Good carry by Venditti and then Canna tries a little chip and chase to put Connacht on the back foot. He knocks it on — but play comes back for an earlier penalty against Connacht.

The ref and the TMO watch the replay and consult, and rule that Sean O’Brien reached in and knocked the ball out of the scrum-half Violi’s hands. Yellow card and Connacht are down to 14 for most of the remainder of this half.

30Mins

We’re going back to the TMO again here for another disciplinary call. The touch judge seems to have spotted something as Quinn Roux brought down a Zebre maul…

30Mins

The replay isn’t very conclusive but as Violi played the ball off the back of the scrum, Roux and Fabiani, the Zebre hooker, are on the ground. Does Roux swing his arm at him? They’re scrutinising the footage for a punch.

30Mins

There also appears to be a biting allegation against Fabiani, and the referee is picked up on mic saying he will be sent off. No red card yet — we’re still watching the replay.

RED CARD! Fabiani is sent off. Our referee, Monsieur Raynal, says there is a “clear mark” on the Connacht player’s arm.

Zebre ain’t happy that nothing is being done about the Roux “punch” but the ref says the footage isn’t there. Huge blow for Zebre.

33Mins

Zebre sub: Mbanda, the blindside flanker, goes off to allow replacement hooker Tommaso D’Apice on.

36Mins

Connacht try to run the ball out from the back, which is no great surprise, but the conditions are a little bit slippy out there and the ball squirts out of Quinn Roux’s hands is he takes it into contact.

Zebre scrum inside the Connacht 22.

36Mins

Castello, the Zebre centre, is playing as a makeshift blindside flanker on the scrum and he helps Zebre get the wheel on and win a penalty. This should be their first three points.

37Mins

MISSED! That should have been a gimme for Padovani but the groans in the Stadio Lanfranchi tell you all you need to know. That’s a bad miss.

40Mins

Adeolokun is rock solid under the high ball and again, Connacht try to get their running game going. Marmion makes a nice break and then Ronaldson ghosts past Ceccarelli like he’s not even there and into the Zebre 22.

It goes wide to Ili, who is dragged down about seven yards short. Delahunt and JP Cooney both eke out the yards but Zebre somehow manage to get it turned.

That looked certain to end up with more Connacht points there but the breakdown has let them down as Browne was isolated.

41Mins

SECOND HALF: We’re back. Can Connacht kick on to claim that bonus point?

Flag 41Mins

TRY! Zebre 0-21 Connacht (Ili, 41′) That didn’t take long. Ili is left in acres of space out on the left and Carty picks him out with a raking crossfield ball. He darts in for his second of the day, and Connacht’s third.

There’s a delay while Di Giulio is treated for a shoulder injury. He is helped off while Ronaldson makes it a perfect three out of three with the conversion from way out left.

48Mins

Connacht in their 11th phase and camped yards from the Zebre line. Penalty advantage coming their way too…

49Mins

Oh that would have been nice. Carty pops the blind pass back inside to Adeolokun, but Canna has stayed with him and brought him down just short of the line.

Castello is penalised for not letting the ball come back and he’s shown a yellow card. Connacht penalty under the posts.

50Mins

Penalty advantage again to Connacht at the scrum so Carty flings it out wide to Ili. He scores but the pass had just drifted forwards. Back for the penalty.

Flag 51Mins

TRY! Zebre 0-28 Connacht (Penalty try, 51′)

My mistake, it was a scrum advantage rather than penalty. Connacht drive Zebre back and the referee spots an infringement from Biagi in the second row.

It’s a penalty try and Ronaldson knocks over the conversion from under the posts. That’s the bonus point in the bag and Connacht are flying.

53Mins

Connacht’s fifth try could be coming very shortly here. They’re back on the Zebre line…

Flag 53Mins

TRY! Zebre 0-35 Connacht (Kelleher, 53′)

The floodgates open here as Zebre’s 13 men can’t keep Connacht at bay. The forwards give it a couple of goes before eventually, Connacht go wide, and Cian Kelleher has acres of space to cross and score.

Flag 55Mins

TRY! Zebre 0-40 Connacht (Carey, 55′)

Another one — that’s three in the space of four minutes — and this time it’s Conor Carey. Connacht are piling on the pain here now but, for the first time this afternoon, Ronaldson misses the conversion.

62Mins

TRY! Zebre 7-40 Connacht (D’Apice, 62′)

Can Zebre get themselves on the scoreboard? They’ve a lineout deep in Connacht territory — and they can! It’s replacement hooker Tommaso D’Apice who picks the ball off the base of the scrum and dives over the top of the ruck to score.

No clean sheet for Connacht but it’s safe to say the points are secure anyway.

Padovani converts.

69Mins

A little bit of the fizz gone out of this one. Bealham concedes the scrum penalty to allow Zebre to clear but it’s not long before Connacht are back inside the 22 and hammering on the door for a seventh try.

70Mins

Connacht penalised at the breakdown — Conor Carey, I think, just went straight in off his feet — and Zebre can relieve the pressure again for another few moments.

Flag 74Mins

TRY! Zebre 7-45 Connacht (Kelleher, 74′)

It’s just chance after chance after chance for Connacht at the moment and it’s only a matter of time before one of them clicks again. This time, the final touch goes to Kelleher, who is set free by a lovely bit of play by Shane O’Leary who does well to get the offload away out of contact.

Ronaldson is gone off, so Carty takes over from the tee, and misses the conversion.

78Mins

Connacht are hungry for an eighth and Blade takes a quick tap penalty about 30 yards out. It’s worked through the hands and then Carty tries to dink it through. There’s a Zebre defender covering across though and he clears into touch. Lineout and one last chance…

Flag

TRY! Zebre 7-52 Connacht (Ili, 79′) There we go. Lineout won, ball spread out to Ili and, despite the attentions of a Zebre tackler, he pumps the legs and drives his way over the line for his hat-trick.

Connacht bring up the half-century.

So that’s it from Parma. Connacht have nine points in the bag after two games and they’re well on course for a place in the knockout stage after the first two rounds of games.

Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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