Monday 23 April 2018

Zebre defeat Connacht to secure first Guinness PRO12 home win of season

Carlo Canna, pictured right, kicked 10 points for Zebre against Connacht
Carlo Canna, pictured right, kicked 10 points for Zebre against Connacht

Zebre claimed their first Guinness PRO12 home win of the season with a 25-22 victory over reigning champions Connacht in the rearranged round-three clash.

The Bianconeri, who remained bottom of the standings despite the result, ran in three tries courtesy of Derick Minnie, Tommaso Boni and Edoardo Padovani.

Stacey Ili, Craig Ronaldson and Josh Rowland scored tries for Connacht, who were unable to fully capitalise on a two-man advantage in the game's closing stages while Minnie and Matteo Pratichetti were both in the sin-bin.

The original fixture was suspended in September due to bad weather at Stadio Lanfranchi, with Connacht trailing the Italian side 10-22 at half-time.

Ili got the visitors off to the perfect start when he scored a try in the second minute, and, while Carlo Canna's opening penalty of the match cut the deficit, the Irish province increased their lead shortly after.

Ronaldson crossed in the 13th minute, with John Cooney slotting the conversion.

Minnie hit back for Zebre with a try after 24 minutes, and Italy international Canna added the extras.

Another penalty for fly-half Canna meant the hosts led 18-12 at the interval.

Boni increased Zebre's lead with a try a minute into the second half before Connacht scrum-half Cooney cut the gap with a 47th-minute penalty.

Ronaldson took over kicking duties after Cooney was replaced by Caolin Blade, and missed his first effort from the tee.

Minnie was then sent to the sin-bin for an offside offence, but it did not disrupt Zebre's flow as Padovani scored their third try in the 66th minute with Canna converting.

Pratichetti joined him in the bin and Connacht finally made another breakthrough when Rowland crossed with two minutes remaining, Ronaldson converting from the corner, but it was not enough as Zebre held on for victory.

Press Association

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