Connacht extend home hot streak
Connacht 31 Benetton Treviso 25
Connacht's excellent post-Christmas form continued at the Sportsground last night when they made it three home wins on the trot in the Magners League to continue their drive up the table.
And with back-to-back games to come against Aironi, Eric Elwood's men can nail down their best league finish in years. But they will be disappointed not to secure a bonus point, especially when Brian Tuohy crossed for their third try six minutes after the restart to put Connacht 24-12 in front. They failed to push on from there and had to endure a nervous finish as the Italians hit back. Connacht seemed poised for a facile win when they raced 18-0 in front after 23 minutes.
Troy Nathan gave them a perfect start with a try just two minutes in, after cutting a great line in from the right and Ian Keatley added the points and then a penalty.
There was no respite for the Italians who are still looking for their first win abroad and another super drive, with Jamie Hagan making some great ground, opened the way for scrum-half Frank Murphy to cross and make it 15-0 after just 11 minutes.
The Connacht pack were on top and it was no surprise when Keatley extended the lead with another penalty after 23 minutes. But Treviso hit back and making the hard yards they reduced the deficit to 18-12 by the 32nd minute.
Michele Sepe got their first try off a lineout drive in the left corner on the half hour before flanker Manoa Vosawal, who had spent 10 minutes in the bin, pounced on sloppy Connacht handling to dash over.
But Connacht extended their lead to 24-12 by the break with penalties from Keatley and should have had a bonus when Tuohy got over early in the second-half for his fifth try of the campaign. However, they failed to score again and penalties from Willem de Waal and a penalty try ensured a nervy finish.
CONNACHT -- G Duffy; B Tuohy, N Ta'auso, T Nathan; F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson (R Loughney, 65), S Cronin, J Hagan (R Ah You, 60); M Swift, M McCarthy; A Browne, J O'Connor, R Ofisa.
BENETTON TREVISO -- B Williams; M Sepe (G Garcia, 60), E Galon, A Pratichetti, J Maddock; W De Waal, L Nitoglia; I Fernandez Rouyet (M Rizzo, 48), F Sbaraglini, L Cittadini (P Di Santo, 48); A Pavanello (P Derbyshire,48), C van Zyl; B Vermaak, M Vosawai (G Padrò, 48), M Filippucci (E Pavanello, 60).
Ref -- G Knox (Scotland).