Pro14: Zebre 24-10 Connacht

Tom Farrell aims to find his Connacht centre partner Pita Ahki with a pass
New Zealand-born centre Pita Ahki (centre) made his first start for Connacht in Parma
Pro14: Zebre v Connacht
Zebre (6) 24
Try: Meyer, Venditti Con: Canna Pens: Canna 3 Drop Goal: Canna
Connacht (0) 10
Try: Farrell Con: Crosbie Pen: Carty

Connacht suffered their seventh defeat of the Pro14 campaign as improving Zebre earned a deserved win in Parma.

After two Carlo Canna penalties left Zebre 6-0 ahead at the break, a controversial Tom Farrell try helped Connacht lead before Zebre regrouped.

Farrell touched down after team-mate James Cannon looked to have knocked on.

But Johan Meyer's 68th-minute try saw the energetic Zebre side regaining the lead and wing Giovanbattista Venditti's late touchdown sealed their victory.

Two missed straightforward penalties from fly-half Steve Crosbie didn't help Connacht's prospects in the first half as the 2015-16 champions failed to profit from two periods of territorial domination.

In truth, Connacht's ball-in-hand approach rarely looked likely to breach the Zebre defence with the home team looking more threatening and pacy when they attacked.

Misplaces passes from full-back Matteo Minozzi and Venditti saw Michael Bradley's side squandering great try chances before Tiernan O'Halloran held up Venditti in first-half injury time after the wing had crossed the line.

Farrell's contentious 44th-minute Connacht try came during the sin-binning of their flanker Eoghan Masterson who had been yellow carded by Irish referee George Clancy moments before half-time.

All players bar Farrell appeared to have stopped in the expectation that Cannon would be pinged for a knock-on on the edge of the Zebre 22 but Clancy awarded the score as the centre ran on after trying his luck.

Connacht wasted a chance to build on their good forture as hooker Shane Delahunt knocked on just short of the Zebre line after a Kieran Marmion burst.

Penalties at either end from replacement fly-half Jack Carty and Canna kept Connacht 10-9 ahead by the 67th minute but as Zebre finished by far the stronger, tries from Meyer and the imposing Venditti, and a Canna drop goal, sealed the merited home win.

New Zealand-born centre Pita Ahki showed some running ability in the first half after making his first start for Connacht but made little impression in the second period.

Zebre: M Minozzi, M Bellini, G Bisegni, T Boni, G Venditti, C Canna, M Violi, A Lovotti, O Fabiani, D Chistolini, L Krumov, G Biagi, M Mbandà, J Meyer, R Giammarioli

Replacements: L Luus, C Ah-Nau, E Bello, D Sisi, J Sarto, G Palazzani, S Bordoli, C Gaffney

Connacht: T O'Halloran; C Kelleher, P Ahki, T Farrell, M Healy; S Crosbie, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, F Bealham; U Dillane, J Cannon, E Masterson, J Connolly, J Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: D Heffernan, P McCabe, C Carey, C Gallagher, N Dawai, J Mitchell, J Carty, E Griffin.

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