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Prop Rodney Ah You crossed for a rare try to help Connacht avenge last season’s defeat at the Stadio di Monigo in their 11-9 RaboDirect PRO12 defeat of Benetton Treviso.
Connacht became Treviso’s fourth victims since their incorporation into the Celtic League in their 24-17 victory last year, but as one of the RaboDirect Pro12 sides most affected by World Cup call-ups the Italians could not repeat the trick.
There was very little between the teams in the 32 degree heat of the summer sun, which sapped energy as the game went on.
Connacht were made to work hard in the early stages though as Treviso came out with all guns blazing.
Despite twice going close in the corner, the hosts only had Willem de Waal’s eighth-minute penalty to show for their efforts.
After weathering the early storm, Connacht came into the match and Eoin Griffin would have been in for a certain try had the officials not spotted a forward pass.
However they were handed a break when de Waal missed a straightforward penalty which allowed Matthew Jarvis to level up the scores on the half-hour mark.
After Jarvis was also off-target with a kick of his own, Connacht did take the lead on the stroke of halftime.
Following a lineout deep inside the Treviso half, lock Michael Swift made the initial break and Kiwi tighthead Ah You was on hand to drive over from close range. Jarvis was off target to make the halftime score 8-3 to the visitors.
As would be expected, the second half was an incredibly tight affair and Connacht had to withstand several phases of pressure before Jarvis’ second penalty put the Irish side ahead by a score.
However Jarvis blotted his copybook with his third missed kick of the match, de Waal slotted two penalties to bring the hosts within two points with five minutes remaining.
In a hectic finish, Connacht survived a Treviso lineout deep inside their own 22 but despite hammering at the door the Italians just could not find a way through.
There were plenty of positive signs for Connacht coach Eric Ellwood who has had to adapt to the departures of Ian Keatley, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan and Fionn Carr in a victory short on quality but high on spirit.