Connacht hold off Zebre
Miah Nikora kicks 15 points for visitors, including three penalties
Last Updated: 07/09/12 9:57pm
Miah Nikora: kicked 15 points for visitors
Connacht ruined Zebre's home debut in the RaboDirect PRO12 home debut by securing a 30-17 victory in a fiesty contest in Parma.
Winger Tiernan O'Halloran and number eight George Naoupu both scored tries to help the visitors record their first league win of the new campaign.
Miah Nikora also made a major contribution to Connacht's cause, the fly-half kicking 15 points to keep brave Zebre out of range during a fiesty contest.
Wing Samuele Pace and former Blue Bulls flanker Dries van Schalkwyk both touched down for the hosts, though it wasn't enough to see the Italians come out on top.
New Zealand-born Nikora broke the deadlock in the 13th minute with a penalty before also converting O'Halloran's score that came about from turnover ball.
A further penalty before half-time, awarded when Van Schalkwyk was caught holding onto the ball, meant Connacht held a commanding 13-0 lead.
However Zebre gave themselves some hope with their first ever try in the competition four minutes into the second half, Pace squeezing over in no small part due to some lacklustre defending.
Luciano Orquera added the extras but Pace then went from hero to villain when he tackled Connacht full-back Gavin Duffy in the air and was shown a yellow card.
The away side made the most of the man advantage with Nikora's fourth successful kick of the night, while Naoupu's try that followed gave them some breathing space.
Zebre did get close again when Van Schalkwyk touched down, Orquera converting to reduce the deficit to 23-14, and their comeback bid was boosted when Dave Gannon and Rodney Ah You were both sent to the sin-bin for Connacht.
But Zebre's Luca Redolfini were also ordered off for 10 minutes and Connacht sealed the win through lock Mike McCarthy, allowing Nikora to knock over his sixth successful goal of a successful night for both him and his team.