Pro12: Connacht 34-15 Zebre
|Connacht (29) 34|
|Tries: Healy, Marmion, E McKeon, Ronaldson, Buckley Cons: Ronaldson 3 Pen: Ronaldson|
|Zebre (10) 15|
|Tries: Berryman, Meyer Con: Padovani Pen: Padovani|
Connacht ran in five tries as they claimed a second consecutive bonus point win in the Pro12 by beating bottom club Zebre 34-17 in Galway.
The hosts built up a 19-point half-time lead with the help of tries from Matt Healy, Kieran Marmion, Eoin McKeon and Craig Ronaldson.
Dion Berryman's 35th-minute touchdown was Zebre's lone response.
Prop Denis Buckley crossed for his side's fifth try and flanker Johan Meyer grabbed a late consolation score.
Impressive fly-half Ronaldson, who started in place of an ill Jack Carty, slotted an early penalty before Connacht notched their opening try against the run of play.
Ronaldson launched a kick chase out of his 22, Berryman failed to deal with the bouncing ball and the onrushing Healy hacked on and picked up to score.
Ronaldson's conversion was cancelled out by an Edoardo Padovani penalty and Connacht absorbed some more Zebre pressure before striking again at the midpoint of the half.
Following a fine aerial take by Danie Poolman, Bundee Aki put boot to ball and Healy did brilliantly to control it and flick it back for Marmion to finish off by the posts.
Australian international scrum half Luke Burgess' brilliant reverse pass over his shoulder released winger Berryman for his converted try.
But Zebre were rocked back onto their heels by prop Andrea Lovotti's sin-binning for obstruction and Ronaldson's well-taken seven-pointer which saw him step inside two defenders.
Buckley plunged over from a maul wide out on the right for try number five, but the remaining half hour was particularly listless with Zebre dictating play and Aki and John Cooney making try-saving interventions.
Pat Lam will have been disappointed with the way his side ceded territory and played second fiddle to the Italians.
The one positive was the collective performance of their young replacement front row - Shane Delahunt, Conan O'Donnell and Finlay Bealham.
However, with 78 minutes on the clock, Aki saw yellow following a series of infringements in Connacht territory, and the hard-working Meyer immediately mopped up with an unconverted try.
Connacht: O'Halloran, Poolman, Parata, Aki, Healy, Ronaldson, Marmion, Buckley, McCartney, Ah You, Roux, Browne, Muldoon, Fox-Matamua, E. McKeon.
Replacements: Leader for Poolman (55), C. McKeon for Ronaldson (71), J. Cooney for Marmion (49), O'Donnell for Buckley (59), Delahunt for McCartney (52), Bealham for Ah You (59), Muldowney for Browne (41), Masteron for E. McKeon (66).
Sin Bin: Aki (78).
Zebre: Beyers, Berryman, Boni, Pratichetti, Van Zyl, Padovani, Burgess, Lovotti, Manici, Ceccarelli, Bernabo, Biagi, Meyer, Sarto, van Schalkwyk.
Replacements: Palazzani for Beyers (59), Visentin for Berryman (41), Canna for Padovani (53), De Marchi for Lovotti (71), D'Apice for Manici (59), Coria Marchetti for Ceccarelli (54), Bortolami for Bernabo (63), Caffini for Sarto (48).
Sin Bin: Lovotti (37).
Referee: N Whitehouse (WRFU).