Sunday 23 July 2017

Lam's charges closing in on top six

Treviso 19 Connacht 34

Connacht's Bundee Aki is tackled by Alberto Sgarbi of Benetton Treviso during the Guinness PRO12 match at Stadio Monigo. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Connacht's Bundee Aki is tackled by Alberto Sgarbi of Benetton Treviso during the Guinness PRO12 match at Stadio Monigo. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Bill Kiely

Connacht picked up a vital bonus-point win in their quest for the top six as Pat Lam's patient side ran in four tries in Treviso.

Caolin Blade and Finlay Bealham scored in the first-half, while tries from Craig Ronaldson and Tiernan O'Halloran after the break wrapped up the win to move Lam's eighth-placed side to within seven points of sixth-place Glasgow.

Connach'ts Tom Farrell makes a break during the clash with Benetton Treviso. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Connach'ts Tom Farrell makes a break during the clash with Benetton Treviso. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Ronaldson also had a great day from the tee with five kicks from five, as a third win in a row launched Connacht's drive to the Champions Cup.

With last year's Pro12 player of the year Bundee Aki back for the first time in 2017 Connacht would have felt a lot more settled around the middle and after the New Zealander was hit high, his centre partner Ronaldson made no mistake from an early penalty.

Connacht continued to grow into the game and shortly after Ronaldson made it 6-0, Blade scampered over for his second try in a week, which Ronaldson converted.

After half an hour a great break by Niyi Adeolokun set the visitors on the way to a second try, eventually scored by Bealham.

Connacht's Tiernan O'Halloran runs in to score his side's third try during the match against Benetton Treviso. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Connacht's Tiernan O'Halloran runs in to score his side's third try during the match against Benetton Treviso. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

There was a reply from the home side when winger Andrea Buondonno crossed but Connacht were happy to lead 20-5 at the interval.

It took them only 20 minutes to claim the bonus point with Ronaldson and O'Halloran crossing the line, and although Treviso responded with late tries from Luca Sperandio and David Odiete, Connacht were never in danger.

Treviso - L Sperandio; M Tagicakibau (D Odiete 48), T Iannone, A Sgarbi, A Buondonno; I McKinley, T Tebaldi (E Francescato 72); F Zani, L Bigi (R Santamaria 61), T Pasquali (M Irving 72); T Paulo (L Nostran 48), D Budd; M Lazzaroni, F Minto (A Pratichetti 68), R Barbieri (F Ferrarini 63).

Connacht - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki (S Ili 62), C Ronaldson (T Farrell 54), D Poolman; J Carty, C Blade (John Cooney 63); D Buckley (JP Cooney 62), S Delahunt, F Bealham (J Andress 62); U Dillane (Q Roux 58), J Cannon; S O'Brien, N Fox-Matamua (D Heffernan 67), J Muldoon (N Dawai 62).

Ref - I Davies (WRU).

Irish Independent

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