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Connacht score nine tries but Zebre still give them a scare

(Photo by George Tewkesbury/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Connacht survived a scare as they held off a second-half fightback by Zebre to emerge 57-34 winners from their United Rugby Championship clash in Parma. The Irish province appeared to be cruising to a routine victory as they led 38-13 when wing Diarmuid Kilgallen went over in the 45th minute but Zebre burst into life, inspired by their fly-half Tiff Eden to plunder three rapid tries.


Hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin completed an early hat-trick as Connacht found success through their maul and it was the pack who ended the home uprising by engineering the try that placed them back in control before the floodgates opened late on.

It was as early as the sixth minute that Connacht made their presence felt at the maul when Tierney-Martin completed the lineout drive. Eden rifled over his second penalty and Zebre showed signs of endeavour as they broke across the halfway line, capitalising on the scrappy nature of the opening quarter.

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This is Zebre | A RugbyPass Originals Documentary

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This is Zebre | A RugbyPass Originals Documentary

Tierney-Martin claimed a second maul try with backs this time joining in as the Irish side again looked to their set-piece to make the breakthrough. The 23-year-old front row clinched his hat-trick inside the half-hour mark as Connacht tightened the screw using a weapon Zebre were unable to contain.

Tiernan O’Halloran and Simone Gesi exchanged tries as the game opened up, but Connacht started to pull clear as O’Halloran selflessly sent scrum-half Caolin Blade over. Kilgallen broke two tackles to get the visitors off to a try-scoring start to the second half but Zebre hit back immediately through Erich Cronje as the match continued to produce tries at both ends.

Giampietro Ribaldi was absolved of illegally clearing out Conor Oliver and the Italian team were the next to score when Eden’s sleight of hand saw lock Josh Furno surge over. Eden’s silky hands and movement then set Gesi up for his second and suddenly Zebre trailed just 38-34.

Connacht, though, returned to their maul and were rewarded when Adam Byrne went over from close range before Kieran Marmion and Colm de Buitlear ran in tries at the death.


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