Heineken Cup: Connacht beat Zebre to finish campaign with third win
Connacht finished their Heineken Cup campaign on a high with a battling 25-20 victory over Zebre on Friday night.
Last Updated: 18/01/13 11:00pm
The Irish province overcame testing conditions and stubborn opposition at the Sportsground to prevail and end with three Pool 3 victories to their name.
The returning Dan Parks kicked 20 points for Connacht, who bossed the forward exchanges and were awarded a decisive penalty try in the second half.
Zebre picked up a losing bonus point for their efforts to ensure they avoided the ignominy of finishing the campaign pointless.
Parks, who returned to the side after missing last week's defeat to Harlequins, kicked two penalties to just one from Daniel Halangahu in the opening quarter of an hour as the home side dominated territory for the most part.
Both sides struggled to find their attacking fluency in difficult conditions and a further penalty apiece saw the players make their way to the changing rooms at half time with Connacht leading 12-6.
Connacht probably thought they had made the crucial breakthrough five minutes after the restart as the power of their pack proved too much in the scrum and the referee had no option but to award them a penalty try.
Zebre had other ideas, however, and their forwards responded in the best possible manner by marching straight back up the field and giving their kicker two penalty opportunities in quick succession to reduce the deficit to seven points.
And the Italian backs then did their bit as well, producing the moment of the match as Giovanbattista Venditti found a gap in the defence and sprinted away before offloading to Matteo Pratichetti, who fed Ruggero Trevisan to score in the corner.
Halangahu missed the conversion from out wide but he made up for that moments later with another penalty that gave Zebre an unlikely lead with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
The Italians' ill-discipline cost them in the though and they let Connacht off the hook by conceding a penalty almost immediately, which Parks converted.
And the former Scotland international made sure that the home side did make it a total of three victories in this season's Heineken Cup and the visitors remain winless in all competitions with a second drop goal of the night five minutes from time.