Sunday 22 September 2019

Henshaw back with bang to send Connacht top

Connacht 33 Treviso 19

Kieran Marmion, Connacht, is tackled by Teofilo Paulo and Abraham Steyn, Benetton Treviso
Kieran Marmion, Connacht, is tackled by Teofilo Paulo and Abraham Steyn, Benetton Treviso
Matt Healy, Connacht, scores his side's third try, despite the attempted tackle of Luke Mclean
Simone Ferrari, Benetton Treviso, is tackled by Craig Ronaldson and Andrew Browne, Connacht

John Fallon

Robbie Henshaw crowned his return to Connacht by scoring the try which sent them on their way to equal their best winning run when they chalked up their fifth success in-a-row to go top of the table.

Henshaw, operating at full-back where he played most of his early rugby for Connacht, struck early in the second-half for his first try in over a year for the province to push them 16-5 in front against the dogged Italians.

Treviso managed to pull back a try but the result was then put beyond doubt when replacement hooker Tom McCartney got over after a one-two with John Muldoon in a lineout - although he then had to go off after suffering a hamstring injury.

Treviso may have lost all six games before this but it was clear from the outset that they were going to make Connacht work hard for everything.

Connacht, forced into a late change with Nathan White starting after Rodney Ah You returned to New Zealand following the sudden death of his father, enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the opening half.

But they struggled to break down a decent Treviso defence who looked a lot more organised than the team that had conceded 20 tries in their last six games.

Connacht, who themselves had scored 20 going into this one, tried to get the ball wide but met stiff resistance, although a Craig Ronaldson penalty after four minutes gave them an ideal start.

But another penalty at the end of the opening quarter was all Connacht had to show for their dominance. And then they were jolted into action when Treviso full-back Jayden Hayward combined with Andrea Pratichetti to race over in the right corner for a try after 27 minutes.

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The Kiwi Hayward was unable to add the conversion when he pulled it wide of the near post.

Connacht's dominance in the scrum started to pay dividends and when scrum-half John Cooney was whistled back as he went over for a try, Pat Lam's men won a penalty off the Treviso scrum and Ronaldson made it 9-5 four minutes from the break.

Treviso, who started with three players back from the World Cup and with another two on the bench, held off Connacht to trail by just four at the break.

Henshaw's try in the right corner sent Connacht on their way and while Hayward responded with a second touchdown, Connacht pulled away again when McCartney scored and Ronaldson again converted from the right to lead by 23-12 after 54 minutes.

Dublin native AJ MacGinty, fresh from his World Cup exploits with the USA, made his Connacht debut in the final quarter before Matt Healy got their third try.

Connacht - R Henshaw; T O'Halloran (D Leader 74), B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; J Carty (AJ MacGinty 64), J Cooney (K Marmion 37); D Buckley (C O'Donnell 74), D Heffernan (T McCartney 51, Heffernan 53), N White (F Bealham 33); U Dillane (A Muldowney 56), A Browne; J Muldoon, N Fox-Matamua (E Masterson 63), E McKeon.

Treviso - J Hayward; A Pratichetti, T Iannone, E Bacchin (S Christie 69), S Ragusi; L McLean, A Lucchese (E Gori 38); M Zanusso (M Muccignat 66), L Bigi (D Giazzon 46), S Ferrari (F Filippetto 40); F Paulo (A de Marchi 79), J Montauriol; M Barbini (M Lazzaroni 61), A Zanni (D Budd 44), B Steyn.

Ref - I Davies (WRU)

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