Sunday 22 January 2017

Injuries mar Connacht rout

Zebre 34-51 Connacht

Published 21/02/2016 | 02:30

Connacht's Eoin McKeon charges forward Photo: Max Pratelli / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's Eoin McKeon charges forward Photo: Max Pratelli / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's Craig Ronaldson Photo: Max Pratelli / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's Matt Healy scores a try Photo: Max Pratelli / SPORTSFILE
Zebre's Oliviero Fabiani, Zebre, is tackled by Jake Heenan (left) and John Moldoon of Connacht Photo: Max Pratelli / SPORTSFILE

Matt Healy did his Ireland aspirations no harm at all with a hat-trick, but Pat Lam's side were left counting the cost of victory in Parma as his injury-battered side took a bonus-point win to go top of the table.

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Healy and Kieran Marmion crossed in the first half before Healy ran in another two in the first eight minutes after the break, but a horror leg injury for Eoghan Masterson and further injuries to Jake Heenan and Craig Ronaldson spoiled their tenth Pro12 win of the season. Niyi Adeolokun racked up two second-half tries, but the concession of four tries will annoy Lam.

Ronaldson got Connacht on the board from a fourth-minute penalty but Zebre responded and Kelly Haimona levelled matters from the tee. A blistering spell midway through the first half gave Connacht a couple of significant scores. Firstly Tiernan O'Halloran sent Healy down the wing for his third try in four games, before the quick-thinking Marmion dived over after a tap penalty. Both tries were converted by Ronaldson for a 17-6 interval lead.

A minute from half-time a misfiring lineout cost Connacht as Johan Mayer crossed from close range. Ronaldson hit the post with a penalty straight from the restart, and in the following attack, Healy ran in his second. Again Zebre's response was rapid and Haimona dived over to make it 24-15. Healy completed his hat-trick in the 48th minute, before Adeolokun twice finished well as the game ended in a flurry of tries.

Scorers - Zebre: K Haimona try, 2 pens, 4 cons; J Meyer, A Van Schalkwyk, F Ruzza tries. Connacht: M Healy 3 tries, N Adeolokun 2 tries, K Marmion try; C Ronaldson pen, 3 cons; AJ MacGinty 3 cons, 2 pens.

Zebre: M Muliaina (U Beyers 51); G Toniolatti, G Bisegni (T Boni 57), M Pratichetti, K Van Zyl; K Haimona, L Burgess (M Panunzi 68); B Postiglioni (A De Marchi 57), O Fabiani (E Coria 75), D Chistolini (P Ceccarelli 56); G Koegelenberg, M Bortolami; E Caffini, J Meyer (F Ruzza 56), D Van Schalkwyk (F Cristiano 66).

Connacht: T O'Halloran (D Poolman 67); N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson (P Robb 50), M Healy; AJ MacGinty, K Marmion (C Blade 60); D Buckley (R Loughney 60), T McCartney, F Bealham (R Ah You 60); B Marshall (D Heffernan 61), A Muldowney; J Muldoon, J Heenan (E Masterson 26, G Naoupu 46), E McKeon.

Referee: G Conway (IRFU)

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