PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Tuesday, August 16
Connacht 20 Overmach Parma 13, The Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht: Tries: Mark McHugh, Chris Venter; Cons: David Slemen 2; Pens: Slemen 2
Parma: Try: Penalty try; Con: Alejandro Canale; Pen: Canale; Drop: Canale
Connacht tuned up last night for the new season with a well-merited seven-point success over Overmach Parma, who, like their hosts, are gearing up for the European Challenge Cup.
Connacht face Sicilian side Catania in their European opener in October and this was seen as ideal preparation by the province's coach Michael Bradley. Parma, who included US Eagles centres Paul Emerick and Albert Tuipulotu, provided a tough test at the Sportsground and led 6-3 at the break thanks to a drop goal and penalty from the boot of Alejandro Canale.
Connacht, who handed debuts from the start to newcomers Chris Venter and David Gannon, and also Academy graduates Dan Riordan and Philip Rowe, the first Mayo man to play for Connacht since Ireland international Gavin Duffy, stepped up the pace in the second half.
Just three minutes in, a sweeping backline move was finished by centre Mark McHugh with a try to the left of the posts. David Slemen, who stepped ably into the boots of retired fly-half Eric Elwood, who now assists Bradley, converted and also added the extras to former Natal Shark Venter's debut try from a 50th-minute forward drive.
Ireland Under-21 winger Riordan came close to a debut try of his own, but dropped the ball just short of the line, allowing Parma the chance of a comeback. The Italians secure a penalty try on 72 minutes for a collapsed Connacht scrum, but Bradley's charges deservedly held on.
Leicester Tigers are next up for Connacht at the Sportsground (6.30pm) on Friday.
CONNACHT: M Mostyn (Capt); C McPhillips, P Warwick, M McHugh, D Riordan; D Slemen, T Tierney; D McFarland, C Venter, A Clarke, D Gannon, C Short, M Swift, B O'Connor, P Rowe.
Replacements used: J Muldoon for O'Connor (32 mins), J Merrigan for Venter (54), R Loughney for Clarke, A Gallagher for Gannon (both 64), K Matthews for Warwick (70), T Richardson for Rowe (74).
OVERMACH PARMA: E Galon; N Mazzucato, P Emerick, A Tuipulotu, G Ghidini; A Canale, J Pellicena; G Fontana, S Busatto, M Coletti, A Giacon, L Tait, L Paascu, P Sciarretta, M Vosawai.
Sin bin: C Short (Connacht) (32 mins), A Tuipulotu (Parma) (40+2)
Referee: Olan Trevor (IRFU)