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Classy Connacht’s show of strength

Connacht 43-3 Zebre

Connacht hit their stride in the final quarter as they ran out 43-3 bonus-point winners over second-from-bottom Zebre at the Sportsground.

Winger Danie Poolman's 27th-minute try was supplemented by four Ian Porter penalties as the hosts built a 17-3 half-time lead in very wet conditions. David Odiete landed Zebre's lone reply.

Zebre were missing 13 Italy internationals and had to cope with three sin-binnings, as well as captain Mauro Bergamasco's departure through injury.

Pat Lam's men started the second half with a Michael Kearney maul try and they capitalised on two successive Zebre yellow cards to claim a penalty try while replacements John Cooney and Jack Carty also touched down.

The expectant crowd came to see Mils Muliaina's belated debut for the province following elbow surgery and the All Black centurion, who had not played since March, provided the assist for Poolman's opener.

After dominating the first half in the heavy rain, Connacht stepped up the intensity entering the closing 20 minutes of the game, as forwards Andries Ferreira and Andrea Lovotti were sent to the bin in quick succession.

Referee Ben Whitehouse awarded the penalty try at the very next scrum, and Cooney soon registered the bonus point.

Edoardo Padovani's dropped pass was hacked on by Carty, who showed impressive dribbling skills to finish off his 68th-minute try which he converted for a 40-point winning margin for the home side.

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