Keatley holds off Aironi
Connacht 11 Aironi 6
Published 12/03/2011 | 05:00
Eric Elwood's Connacht continued their march up the Magners League table as they dug deep to secure their fourth win in five games in the competition, with Ian Keatley scoring all the Westerners' points.
Aironi defended superbly in the opening half and while Connacht enjoyed an abundance of possession, they could not break down the visitors' defence.
A Keatley penalty after 15 minutes was all Connacht had to show for their early dominance, though the Irish side could have been further ahead had the out-half not been off target with a brace of penalties.
Connacht did not panic, however, and struck a timely blow in first-half stoppage-time when they finally cracked the Aironi defence -- Keatley looping with Troy Nathan before making it over in the left corner.
Keatley extended the lead with a penalty from distance having missed one closer to the posts, but Aironi finished strongly.
Scrum-half Tito Tebaldi got them off the mark with a 65th-minute penalty and ensured a tight finish when he got another six minutes from time.
However, Connacht kept their composure and held on for their fifth home win in succession.
Connacht -- G Duffy (K Matthews 72); B Tuohy, N Ta'auso, T Nathan, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; R Loughney (R Ah You 68), A Flavin, J Hagan; M Swift, M McCarthy (B Upton 70); A Browne, J O'Connor, R Ofisa.
Aironi -- J Marshall; K Robinson (G Toniolatti 62), G Pavan (G Pizarro 58), M Pratichetti, D Demas; R Bocchino (G Rubini 68), T Tebaldi; A de Marchi, R Santamaria, U Gamboa (F Staibano 46); J Furno, M Bortolami; J Sole, G Krause, N Williams.
Ref -- J Jones (WRU).