|21 May 2022||5:00 pm||United Rugby Championship||2021/22|
Connacht ended their season in the United Rugby Championship, with a narrow 22-20 bonus point win over Zebre in Galway this afternoon.
A performance they will be content by as they had to endure a late scare to put down the challenge of the Italian minnows.
The home supporters showing their support for their departing players, as all eye will now turn to the 2022/23 season.
Zebre signalled early that they had arrived in Galway to play rugby, controlling the game for the opening minutes but could not convert chances into a try scoring opportunity, they did however lead after four minutes, Carlo Canna landing a penalty for a 3-0 lead.
The Connacht reply was swift and emphatic, after kicking for touch from penalty, they worked the phases well and a couple of fantastic offloads saw them gain ground to the try line, a ruck formed just short of the line and Kieran Marmion was on hand to cross after 7 minutes, the missed conversion leaving just a two point gap in the tie.
After the opening try for the hosts, it looked to have steadied the ship in their favour as they began to come alive and showcase their array of talents, in the attractive style of rugby we expect to see from Andy Friend's outfit.
Niall Murray was the next man on the board for the Westerners, almost a carbon copy of the opening try, a well worked move which saw the Forward power his way over the line for a 10-0 lead on the 16th minute mark, again Jack Carty just missed the target with the conversion.
Zebre were having their door knocked off the hinges by the Connacht attack, but were managing well in defence to push them back, however once the Connacht maul came into the tie it was game over for the visitors, driving them back toward their line before Eoghan Masterson in his final appearance in green, ran over the third try. Carty found his range to make it 17-3 before the half hour mark.
The Azzurri were up against it for the majority of the half, but showed signs of life after the clock ticked into the red, Lorenzo Pani broke for the line and despite the best efforts of three Connacht players he crossed for their first try of the afternoon, Canna missed the conversion as they reduced the deficit to 17-8 going into the interval.
It took just nine minutes after the restart for Connacht to get their bonus point try, John Porch skipping through the tackles and evaded the Zebre defence before touching down for the try, Carty would again miss the conversion but a healthy 22-8 lead saw them looking comfortable.
As a contest the second half was a dull and dismal affair, evident by the hush coming from the Sportsground, it really failed to come alive until Zebre got their second try after 67 minutes, substitute prop Matteo Nocera getting over after a well worked move in the ruck.
Alarm bells started to ring two minutes from time as Enrico Lucchin ran through the defence, as the men in green failed to land a tackle on the centre as he breezed his way over the try line, the conversion made it 22-20 into the final minutes, a nail biting end to the tie but one Connacht will be happy they managed to come out with a win.
|The Sportsgrounds, Galway City, County Galway, Ireland|