Connacht hang tough in Treviso
Three Craig Ronaldson penalties enough to secure victory against Treviso
Connacht’s Jack Carty looks on from the bottom of a ruck. Photograph Elena Barbini/Inpho
Treviso 6 Connacht 9
Connacht may have been denied victory at the death last weekend but tonight in Italy they held on grimly to carve out a fourth win of the campaign.
It was only the second time Connacht have been victorious at Stadio Monigo but in a game with far too much kicking, they held an edge throughout and were deserving winners.
They will now head into their European Challenge Cup campaign at home to La Rochelle next Saturday with confidence soaring having suffered just one defeat in ten league starts.
Cardiff robbed them of victory last weekend and for long periods last night it seemed Connacht might draw for a second successive weekend.
But three Craig Ronaldson penalties were sufficient to secure victory against a Treviso side who have now lost all six games this season.
Treviso got an early edge when Kiwi Jayden Hayward, one of the many wholesale summer changes, landed a penalty from 38 metres on the right after six minutes.
The lineout has been one of the few problem areas for Connacht during their good start to the season but Offaly native Shane Delahunt settled well to his task and was boosted with three early throws which worked to perfection.
The strong set-piece gave Connacht plenty of possession and it took some decent defending by a Treviso side who had coughed up 24 tries in their opening five matches to keep the visitors at bay.
Ronaldson never got hold of his first penalty attempt from 25 metres on the right but he tied the match with a kick in front of the posts after 17 minutes after a dozen phases of Connacht pressure off a lineout to the right corner could not find a way through.
Ronaldson edged Connacht in front on the half hour as more pressure yielded another penalty.
But Treviso were dangerous on the break and it took a great dash by Kieran Marmion to get the decision off the television match official when it seemed that Treviso winger Michele Campagnaro had got the game’s only try in the right corner.
And full-back Darragh Leader did well just before the break to deny his opposite number Hayward as Treviso again came from deep but they got a penalty which the Kiwi converted to tie the match at 6-6 at the interval.
The third quarter saw little good rugby as both sides tried to kick for possession but Hayward missed a chance to put Treviso back in front after 53 minutes when he missed a penalty from 25 metres on the right.
The pace of Leader going forward led to a few promising openings for Connacht while his ability to find distance with the boot also relieved pressure several times as both sides slugged it out.
The tension spilled over into a dust-up which saw both sides pile in and when it settled Connacht’s Marmion and Treviso outhalf Sam Christie were sinbinned.
Ronaldson edged Connacht back in front after 67 minutes with a penalty from 30 metres but he was off target with one from the right with seven minutes remaining on the clock.
That ensured a nervous finish and Treviso almost snatched it in the final minute but Eoin McKeon executed a superb tackle to deny hooker Davide Giazzon a match-winning try as Pat Lam’s men held on for victory.
Treviso: J Hayward; L Nitoglia, L Morisi, E Bacchin, M Campagnaro; S Christie, E Gori; M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden; M Fuser, C Van Zyl; S Favaro, A Zanni, M Luamanu. Replacements: A Pavanello for Van Zyl (42 mins), F Minto for Luamanu (51 mins), T Vallejos-Cinalli for Fuser (66 mins), A Anae for Zanusso (66 mins), R Acosta for Hardem (66 mins), A Lucchese for Gori (69), S Ragusi for Bacchin (70 mins).
Connacht: D Leader; N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, C Ronaldson, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, R Ah You; M Kearney, Q Roux; J Muldoon, E McKeon, G Naoupu. Replacements: D Heffernan for Delahunt (52 mins), A Muldowney for Roux (54 mins), D Poolman for Adeolokun (57 mins), R Loughney for Buckley (62 mins), W Faloon for Naoupu (66 mins), D McSharry for Leader (72 mins), F Bealham for Ah You (73 mins).
Referee: D Wilkinson (IRFU).