Zebre v Connacht

After last week's heroics Connacht look to take that form to Italy

John O'Sullivan Sun, Oct 23
LIVE: Zebre v Connacht

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  • 15:12
    Good afternoon and welcome to the Irish Times rugby blog of Connacht's Champions Cup clash with Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.  
  • 15:13
    Hopefully they'll manage to sneak a win to supplement their superb victory over Toulouse on the opening weekend in Europe.  
  • 15:13
  • 15:14
    Connacht players and management wearing red armbands to honour the late Anthony Foley.  
  • 15:14
  • 15:16
    Connacht tighthead and Irish international continues a remarkable run by playing every match for Connacht since April 2015.  
  • 15:18
    Referee Mathieu Raynal starts and ends the one minute silence in memory of Foley. An interesting aside, neither Connacht or Zebre have ever won a game that Raynal has refereed. That must change....unless it is a draw of course.    
  • 15:19
    Zebre with some comical errors from the kickoff. Connacht have a five metre scrum under the posts.  
  • 15:22
    John Muldoon charges off the side, Eoin McKeon, Andrew Browne both carry hard for the line and when the ball is moved further out Craig Ronaldson with a neat step makes it two millimtres from the line and is then kind of dragged over. We're going to the TMO.
  • 15:22
    TMO rules double movement. Penalty Zebre.  
  • 15:23
    It's raining in Italy.  
  • 15:23
    Connacht get a scrum turnover by stopping Zebre's lineout maul on the home side's 10 metre line.  
  • 15:24
    Zebre penalised in the scrum. One up for Bealham.  
  • 15:25
    Connacht turn down the shot at goal and go up the touchline but Jack Carty loses possession.  
  • 15:28
    Neat from Connacht, good width, fluidity, going through the phases. It's been a bright opening.  
  • 15:31

    TRY: Stacy Ili. Wonderful piece of skill from Carty, grubber along the ground and Ili demonstrates a slip fielder's hands to gather in diving over. Ronaldson with the touchline conversion.

    10 mins: Zebre 0 Connacht 7

  • 15:34

    TRY: Carty. Thumping tackle from Peter Robb sees ball slip to ground and Carty races in from 55 metres under the posts. Ronaldson adds the conversion. Great start for the Irish province.

    13 mins: Zebre 0 Connacht 14

  • 15:38
    Zebre penalised at a scrum in the Connacht 22. Raynal is an excellent referee in that respect. He doesn't mess around and has warned Biagi the Zebre captain.  
  • 15:41
    Connacht have lost a few balls in contact and Zebre are fyling up in defence. The visitors just need to recalibrate slightly, work closer-in first before going wide. Another Zebre error, sees the ball flyhacked down the field and Connacht will have a five metre scrum.  
  • 15:44
    John Muldoon loses control as the scrum goes forward; turnover.  
  • 15:52
    YELLOW CARD: Sean O'Brien. After consulting with the TMO, he gets a card for slapping the ball out of the scrumhalf's hands at a ruck. Little schemozzle now.  
  • 15:54
    TMO being consulted about a punch.  
  • 15:54
    Another stoppage. It's been like that.  
  • 15:55
    Quinn Roux is claiming he's been bitten and may have reacted with a punch.  
  • 15:57
    RED CARD: Zebre hooker Fabiani sent off for biting.  
  • 15:58
    It was Fabiani's first Champions Cup match. He won't be recalling it with any affection.  
  • 15:58
    Lovely touch from Edinbugh yesterday.  
  • 15:58
  • 15:59
    We have just seen very clear footage of Fabiani biting. Disgraceful.  
  • 16:00
    There are eight minutes to halftime. Zebre are a danger to themselves in possession. Some brilliant stuff and then basic error.  
  • 16:04
    Connacht need to commit more players to the breakdown. They have to refocus, the yellow and red cards seem to have distracted them following a super opening 15-minutes. Pat Lam will be keen to get them in and provide a bit of direction.  
  • 16:05
    Zebre win a scrum penalty. Fullback Padavani misses from 23-metres.  
  • 16:09

    Great break from Ronaldson but Connacht turn over the ball two metres from the Zebre line. It is the last action of the first half.

    HALFTIME: Zebre 0 Connacht 14

  • 16:11
    Red card for Fabiani, yellow card for Sean O'Brien, tries from Stacey Ili and Jack Carty, Craig Ronaldson with two conversions; it's been an eventful opening 40-minutes.  
  • 16:27
    TRY: Ili. Stacey Ili grabs a second try. Superb work initially by Marmion and the Kiwi, then Kelleher on the other touchline before Carty's inch perfect cross kick, was collected by Ili. He owes his outhalf a beer tonight. That's two kicks from carty that have led to Ili's brace.  
  • 16:28

    Ronaldson kicks a touchline conversion.

    41 mins: Zebre 0 Connacht 21

  • 16:29
    Connacht have three tries and are playing against 14 men following Fabiani's sending off.  
  • 16:36
    YELLOW CARD: Tommaso Castello. Zebre down to 13 men. Good break from O'Brien, Kelleher takes it on then Marmion held up short. Castello on his knees playing ball. Connacht go for scrum five mtres out. Conor Carey on for Connacht.
  • 16:37
  • 16:38

    PENALTY TRY. Referee Raynal walks under the posts. Ronaldson converts. Four tries and a bonus point. Half an hour left.

    50 mins: Zebre 0 Connacht 28

  • 16:38
    Dave Heffernan on for Shane Delahunt.  
  • 16:41

    TRY: Kelleher. Some lovely continuity and great power from Heffernan. Simple run in for Kellher against the 13-man Zebre team. Ronaldson with the conversion.

    52 mins: Zebre 0 Connacht 35

  • 16:43

    TRY: Carey. Ili with the initial break, through several pairs of hands and a great offload from Ronaldson keeps the move alive. Marmion's speed a catalyst for the up tempo game. Ronaldson misses a converion.

    55 mins: Zebre 0 Connacht 40

  • 16:46
    Eoin McKeon for Muldoon, Caolin Blade for the outstanding Marmion.  
  • 16:47
    Danie Poolman a late change on the bench today made the break for Carey's try and he is on for Adeolokun.Shane O'Leary for the excellent Ronaldson too  
  • 16:47
    There are still 20-minutes left.  
  • 16:49

    TRY: D'Apice. Lineout maul and a kind of quarterback sneak from the replacement hooker. Padovani lands the conversion.

    62 mins: Zebre 7 Connacht 40  

  • 16:59
    It's been a pretty ragged 10 minutes with both teams making a raft of replacements and errors in probably equal measure.  
  • 17:01
    Connacht mauling their way to the Zebre line.  
  • 17:02

    TRY: Kelleher. Forwards make the hard yards, O'Leary with a neat break and offload to Kelleher who runs it in from about eight metres for his second try of the day. Carty misses the conversion.

    73 mins: Zebre 7 Connacht 45

  • 17:08

    TRY: Ili. Good strength from the left wing as he grabs his hat-trick and takes Connacht over the 50 points mark with the conversion from Shane O'Leary.

    79 mins: Zebre 7 Connacht 52

  • 17:08
    Eight tries for Connacht.  
  • 17:09
    FULLTIME: Zebre 7 Connacht 52
  • 17:11

    Connacht score eight tries. Zebre play 51 minutes with 14 men after hooker Fabiani got a straight red card for biting. The Italians were poor but there was much to admire in what Connacht did. Pat Lam's side now face an interpro derby against Leinster in the RDS at the weekend.

    Two Champions Cup matches for Connacht, two wins and nine points. Excellent.  

  • 17:13
    Connacht lead the pool after Wasps draw with Toulouse in France.  
  • 17:14
    For all you golf fans, Padraig Harrington won the Portuguese Masters. Holed a tricky five foot putt on the last to win by one shot by Andy Sullivan
  • 17:14
  • 17:14
  • 17:16

    Thank you for your company this afternoon. It'll be some sibling rivalry next week from an Irish perspective, Ulster v Munster and leinster v Connacht in the Pro12.  

    As for the Champions Cup, Ulster, Munster win at home, Connacht triumh away and Leinster eke out a bonus point in Montpellier. And the rugby community came together to honour the late Anthony Foley.