Connacht power to bonus-point victory over Benetton

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Connacht Power To Bonus-Point Victory Over Benetton Connacht Power To Bonus-Point Victory Over Benetton
Connacht’s Jack Aungier and Giovanni Pettinelli of Benetton. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
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Replacement Caolin Blade claimed a 66th-minute bonus point as Connacht overcame Benetton 38-19 at the Sportsground.

Connacht captain Jack Carty converted tries from Niall Murray and Paul Boyle and added a penalty to establish a 17-7 half-time lead.

Marcus Watson sandwiched in his second try in the space of a week, while Marco Zanon cancelled out a Finlay Bealham effort to keep the Italians in contention.

Scrum-half Blade wrapped up the result, taking advantage of a red card for Benetton’s Kiwi second row Scott Scrafton, before Tommaso Menoncello and Dylan Tierney-Martin traded late scores.

Second-row Murray showed an impressive burst of pace to score from halfway, Carty’s short pass releasing him to romp over despite Edoardo Padovani’s cover tackle.

Following the first of Carty’s five conversions, the visitors showed their threat out wide when English duo Jacob Umaga and Watson combined from a cross-field kick.

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With 18 minutes on the clock, former sevens international Watson ran in an opportunist try. The ball went loose at a Connacht ruck, allowing Scrafton to send the speedster over from the left wing. Umaga levelled from the tee.

Connacht were back in front when Bundee Aki’s inviting pass off a lineout put Boyle hurtling over for Carty to make it 14-7.

Benetton prop Ivan Nemer managed to hold up Oisin Dowling, and another promising Connacht attack was spoiled by obstruction from Conor Oliver.

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A Carty penalty put 10 points between the sides before the break, and Bealham added another seven-pointer early in the second half. The initial surge came from slick handling by centres Aki and Tom Farrell.

Connacht were sloppy at times, though, and they allowed Benetton to respond by the hour mark. Skipper Dewaldt Duvenage’s partially blocked pass was grounded by centre Zanon to restore the 10-point deficit.

Scrafton, though, was too high when tackling Tierney-Martin near halfway, his dismissal leaving Benetton shorthanded for the remainder.

Blade tucked away the bonus point, reaching over after Aki was stopped short, but the lively Menoncello got past Aki for a well-taken consolation try. A maul right at the death saw Tierney-Martin complete the scoring.

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