Connacht get off mark with win over Zebre
September 7, 2012
Connacht captain Gavin Duffy led his side to an opening win of the season
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Connacht ran in three tries and fly-half Miah Nikora weighed in with 15 points from the boot to wrap up the Irish side's first victory of the season with a 30-17 victory over Zebre.
After Nikora opened the scoring with a penalty in the 11th minute, Tiernan O'Halloran scored the opening try on the half-hour mark. Mike McCarthy went over on the stroke of half-time and George Naoupu added a third midway through the second half. Samuele Pace and Dries van Schalkwyk went over for tries for Zebre and Luciano Orquera finished with seven points as the Italian side rallied in the second half.
New Zealand-born Nikora drew first blood with a calmly-struck penalty. He then set up wing O'Halloran for the first try with a clever chip and he added the extras with the conversion. He added another penalty just before half-time when Van Schalkwyk was penalised for holding onto the ball and maintained his perfect record from the tee to send his side in at half-time 13-0 ahead.
Zebre scored their first ever try in the RaboDirect PRO12 try four minutes into the second half when Pace took advantage of some lacklustre defending to run in a try that Orquera converted. Pace was then sent to the sin bin after he tackled Connacht captain Gavin Duffy in the air and Nikora quickly took advantage of his side's numerical superiority to extend Connacht's lead to 16-7. Zebre made a number of substitutions, but it failed to slow down Connacht who went further ahead when No. 8 Naoupu went over for a try that Nikora converted.
Van Schalkwyk replied immediately for Zebre as he shrugged off three defenders to score a try that Orquera converted to reduce the deficit to 23-14. Orquera added a penalty to take the Italians to within seven points, but McCarthy added a third try, which allowed Nikora to round off his night's work with a sixth successful kick at goal.
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