As it happened: Connacht 25-20 Zebre

Updated: Sunday, 20 Jan 2013 11:11

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Connacht battled their way to a narrow Heineken Cup victory Zebre at a cold and wet Sportsground. See how it all unfolded here.

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21:42

Full time: Connacht 25-20 Zebre

Connacht hold up the Zebre ball carrier in the centre of the field, eating up crucial seconds before forcing a scrum. There's no time to take it however and Connacht hold on for a hard fought victory.

It wasn't pretty but Eric Elwood bows out of Heineken Cup rugby with Connacht with another win. 

21:40

78 mins: Zebre win the line out but are held up by some stout defence just a metre from the line. Connacht manage to snatch the ball and it's kicked to safety by O'Donohoe.

21:38

77 mins: Zebre get their first penalty of the night from the scrum, well within kicking distance but the go for the corner. This is going to be a tight finish.

21:37

75 mins: CONNACHT DROP-GOAL, Parks

Paul O'Donohoe, Ronan Loughrey and Ethienne Reynecke are all introduced into the game by Elwood and Connacht are suddenly revitalised. 

Robbie Henshaw again makes the yards for the home side, bursting forward and the Westerners go through the phases well. The ball is worked across to Parks who has little room to operate in but he still manages to find his range and kicks over.

21:33

71 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY, Parks

Parks, from 40 metres out and in front of the posts, puts his previous misses behind him and kicks his side back into the lead.

21:28

68 mins: ZEBRE PENALTY, Halangahu 

Henshaw is penalised for coming across Trevisan just inside the Connacht half and for the first time, Zebre go for the line out. 

The home side are then penalised for interference in the line. This time Zebre go for the kick and Halangahu's effort from the 22 is good. 

21:26

66 mins: Zebre steal the ball for the first time tonight from a Connacht line out and it's indicative of how much the game has turned in their favour. Eric Elwood should be looking at making changes now.

21:21

63 mins: Parks has the chance to settle Connacht nerves with the kind of penalty that he really should be making with ease, but the Scot's kick hits the outside of the right post and Zebre take heart.

21:18

60 mins: ZEBRE TRY, Trevisan

It's been coming and it's a simple, simple try. Marmion opens a gap and Venditti breaks the Connacht line, bursting forward. He off-loads to Pratichetti who then hands off to Trevisan and he goes over in the corner. The TMO is called upon but Trevisan is there comfortably and the try is awarded.

Halangahu misses the conversion

21:15

58 mins: It's a tidy throw and Connacht fail to disrupt the play. Zebre push forward but are stopped right in front of the posts. Replacement Luca Martinelli is wayward with his pass and throws the ball against team-mate Dave Ryan's head, allowing Connacht to gather the ball.

21:12

55 mins: Connacht's discipline has all but collapsed since being awarded that penalty try and Zebre are really starting to dominate. Parks is forced to kick the ball out not far from his own try line and this line out could be crucial.

21:10

51 mins: ZEBRE PENALTY, Halangahu 

Another Zebre penalty, this time awarded after Eoin Griffin failed to roll away. Halangahu has it all to do, kicking into the wind and rain at an angle but again he finds the range and Connacht's lead is down to seven points.

21:07

49 mins: ZEBRE PENALTY, Halangahu 

The Italians manage to stay in touch after Jason Harris-Wright is, rather harshly, penalised for coming off his feet inside his own 22. Halangahu makes no mistake with the kick.

21:03

PENALTY TRY CONNACHT, Parks conversion

44 mins: Connacht opt for the scrum with another penalty for the home side coming as Zebre collapse. Elwood's men take the scrum again and shove forward before the referee blows and this time awards the penalty try. Parks adds on the additional two points.

21:01

43 mins Dan Parks kicks a penalty from inside his own half to within inches of the Zebre line. The lineout goes to the back and Zebre are penalised for coming in from the side just two metres from the try line.

20:43

41 mins: Former Munster prop Dave Ryan is introduced to proceedings by Zebre, who get the second half underway.

20:41

40 mins: Johnny O'Connor and Bergamasco get involved in a little bit of afters, but the referee is happy just to have word and that's the last incident of the first half.

20:40

38 mins: The Italians are defending well when Connacht try to build pressure and despite have the possession and territorial advantage, the home side continue to run into a wall on the Zebre 22.

20:35

34 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY, Parks

Ruggero Trevisan picks up Parks' little dink through but is caught isolated under his own posts by Connacht and is eventually penalised for holding on. Parks kicks the penalty to put his side six points in front.

20:29

28 mins: ZEBRE PENALTY, Halangahu 

More sloppiness from Connacht as Park's Garryowen drops to the ground uncontested. Halangahu is left with the easiest of tasks in reducing the deficit and taps over.

20:27

25 mins: Filippo Ferrarini is a very lucky man and gets away with a late hit on Kieran Marmion. Would have been a yellow card had the referee seen it.

20:25

23 mins: CONNACHT DROP-GOAL, Parks

Filippo Ferrarini is caught offside and this time Parks goes for the line. Zebre are again penalised as Connacht work the ball across to Parks, who has all the time in the world to pick his spot and ensure that the penalty isn't necessary. 

20:22

21 mins: This game has all the hallmarks of an end of campaign game with nothing riding on it. There's plenty of kicking up and down, handling errors and all around sloppiness on both sides. Someone needs to grab this match by the scruff of the neck.

20:17

16 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY, Parks

A nice, positive kick from Parks puts Connacht within touching distance of the Zebre line. The visitors make a mess of the lineout and Connacht are patient, going through the phases before Zebre are penalised for their tackler not rolling away.

Parks slots it over from 21metres to re-establish his side's lead.

20:12

11 mins: ZEBRE PENALTY, Halangahu 

Connacht are penalised for holding on immediately after the kick-off and Zebre's Daniel Halangahu levels the scores with a kick from just outside the 22. That's sloppy from the home side.

20:11

10 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY, Parks

Dan Parks opening the scoring with a super penalty from just inside the Zebre half that creeps over the bar. 

20:07

6 mins: Zebre look almost too eager and have already turned the ball over a couple of times. Bergamasco tries to power forward when he would have been better served holding on the ball and Connacht have it again.

20:05

4 mins: A sloppy Zebre lineout gives Connacht the first scrum of the evening in the middle of the park. Dan Parks' kick is a poor one and it comes straight back at Connacht giving Robbie Henshaw the chance to make a lung-bursting break, skipping challenges left and right before being stopped just in front of the 22. 

That's a nice early cameo from the youngster.

20:01

1min: Dan Parks kicks-off and we're underway.

19:58

Zebre have lost 18 consecutive games and Connacht will really be expecting to sign off with a flourish tonight. Italian veteran Mauro Bergamasco leads the visitors tonight.

19:44

It's a wet and cold night at the Sportsground but a good crowd is still expected to give Connacht a send-off in what has been, thus far, a decent Heineken Cup season. 

Head coach Eric Elwood will not be letting his side rest on their laurels and another win tonight will give them a solid return from what is only their second season in Europe's elite tier as well and some momentum for the rest of their RaboDirect Pro12 campaign.

19:34

Connacht: Robbie Henshaw; Tiernan O’Halloran, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Fetu'u Vainikolo; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White; (C) Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy; Mick Kearney, Johnny O’Connor, Andrew Browne.

Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, JP Cooney, Ronan Loughney, Dave Gannon, Eoghan Grace, Paul O’Donohoe, Miah Nikora, Danie Poolman

Zebre: Tito Tebaldi; Giovanbattista Venditti, Roberto Quartaroli, Matteo Pratichetti, Ruggero Trevisan; Daniel Halangahu, Alberto Chillon; Salvatore Perugini, Davide Giazzon, Luca Redolfini, Micheal van Vuuren, Josh Sole, Emiliano Caffini, Mauro Bergamasco (C), Filippo Ferrarini.

Replacements: Carlo Festuccia, Matias Aguero, Dave Ryan, Nicola Belardo, Andrea Manici, Luca Martinelli, Alberto Chiesa, Samuele Pace

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

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