Connacht warm up for Champions Cup double header with Wasps by thrashing Treviso
Connacht warmed up for their Champions Cup double header with Wasps by thrashing Benetton Treviso 47-8 in the Guinness PRO12 at the Sportsground.
Hooker and man-of-the-match Tom McCartney bagged a brace of tries and late inclusion Danie Poolman, who replaced the injured Matt Healy, and Denis Buckley also touched down for a 28-3 half-time lead.
With their bonus point secured, the westerners added two more tries by the hour-mark from John Cooney and Quinn Roux, before replacements Vittorio Flammini and Jack Carty swapped scores in a scrappy final quarter.
Treviso, who suffered a 46-3 loss at Munster last week, hit the front in Galway thanks to a fourth-minute penalty from Ian McKinley, after Connacht flanker Jake Heenan had been dispossessed in a tackle.
Pat Lam's men improved as the first quarter progressed, Heenan being hauled down short before a kickable penalty was turned down and McCartney, from a standing start, drove over in the clinical fashion for a 13th-minute try.
Despite losing winger Cian Kelleher to the sin-bin for taking a player out in the air, Connacht pressed on and ended the first half with four tries - all converted by scrum-half Cooney. His new half-back partner, South African Marnitz Boshoff, also played well, kicking astutely down the line as the province's try-hunt gathered pace.
Poolman was next over the whitewash in the 25th minute, benefiting from a brilliant one-handed pass from blindside Nepia Fox-Matamua. Treviso were soon down to 14 men, their tighthead Simone Ferrari paying the price for persistent ruck infringements.
Connacht took full advantage with two seven-pointers before the break, McCartney going over from close range after a bout of pressure from the forwards and lovely hands from Kelleher. Cooney and Bundee Aki set up prop Buckley's 37th-minute score.
A clever training ground move from a lineout, involving Boshoff and Poolman, saw Cooney cross in the 49th minute and second row Roux rumbled over from a maul five minutes later.
Connacht's front row replacements ceded advantage in the scrum as Treviso got on top in successive set pieces, forcing a 66th-minute try. The scorer Flammini saw yellow for cynical play six minutes later.
Despite losing Boshoff to an arm injury, the hosts gave the 5,903 attendance a seventh and final try to cheer thanks to Carty's show-and-go effort which he converted himself.