Connacht 20 Zebre 2 match report: Irishmen give themselves a mathematical chance of a quarter-final place with solid win

Matt Healy and Robbie Henshaw crossed the tryline either side of half-time to secure the win

Sportsground

Connacht got the required victory to keep themselves in the hunt for a Heineken Cup quarter-final place, as they ran out 17-point winners over Zebre at the Sportsground.

Matt Healy and Robbie Henshaw scored tries either side of half-time and 20-year-old tournament debutant Jack Carty kicked the rest of the points for Pat Lam's men.

Carty kicked two penalties to Luciano Orquera's lone first-half effort, with winger Healy's first Heineken Cup try - scored while Zebre's Filippo Ferrarini was in the sin-bin - moving Connacht 13-3 ahead at the break.

Henshaw then touched down with the promise of more scores, but the concluding 37 minutes were scoreless as the hosts' bonus-point push failed to materialise.

The result is enough to keep Lam's charges in contention to reach the last eight, a scenario which is only possible if they beat Saracens at Allianz Park next Saturday and other results go their way.

Zebre had the better of a scrappy first quarter in Galway that was pockmarked with mistakes, and the kickers also each missed their first shot at the posts.

A burst through midfield from Eoin Griffin set up a left-sided penalty for fly-half Carty but he sent his kick narrowly wide, while Orquera also missed the target after an intercept from Kameli Ratuvou.

The Italians hit the front in the 16th minute when they won a scrum against the head and their international fly-half punished a Connacht maul infringement with the opening three points.

Fionn Carr flew through a gap to get the hosts into scoring range and Carty duly levelled matters with a 34-metre penalty from the left.

Carr was again involved just moments later before Henshaw's chip through bounced favourably for the westerners. Prop Nathan White was held up short after a powerful charge and Zebre flanker Ferrarini saw yellow for not rolling away.

Carty claimed the three points on offer and Connacht continued to knock on the door, locks Andrew Browne and Michael Swift both going close before man-of-the-match Healy broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.

Healy did extremely well to fend off Guglielmo Palazzani's initial tackle and Giulio Toniolatti also lost his grip on the 24-year-old as he crawled over in the left corner. Television match official Iain Ramage gave the thumbs-up to the score, which Carty brilliantly converted from the touchline.

Zebre went further behind three minutes into the second half, as Henshaw stepped his way over to the right of the posts after Swift's clever offload and an instinctive between-the-legs pass from Griffin.

Carty's conversion made it 20-3 and the home crowd urged Connacht to cut loose, although the Italians fought valiantly right to the finish.

Their stubborn defence prevented the province from using their lineout maul as a springboard for further scores.

Healy was unfortunate to lose control of the ball as he dived low for the try-line in the 67th minute following some incisive running from Henshaw and Carr.

There was another near miss late on for Healy who got no reward for his own breakaway effort, with Zebre replacement David Odiete getting back to deny him in the same left corner.

Despite the frustrating finish, the two-try performance still saw Connacht match their best return in a Heineken Cup season - three wins from last year.

They lie third in Pool 3, two points behind Toulouse and Saracens who meet on Sunday.

PA

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'