Zebre 7-52 Connacht, Stadio Sergio Lanfranch
Wing Stacey Ili made his first start for Connacht a memorable one scoring hat-trick tries as the Galway based club trounced Zebre by 7-52 in their European Champions Cup game at Stadio Sergio Lanfranch on Sunday.
Ili scored the opening try in the ninth minute and was soon followed by Jack Carty in the 12th minute as Pat Lam's men took an early 14-point lead following Craig Ronaldson's double conversion.
The 21-year-old flanker Sean O'Brien was sin-binned in the 28th minute on his first start for Connacht but a minute later Zebre lost hooker Oliviero Fabiani, who was red carded for biting. The scoreline was 14-0 in favour of Connacht at half time.
With Zebre down to 14-men, Ili once again provided a perfect start to Connacht with a 41st minute try. The infringements continued from Zebre as they temporarily lost Tommaso Castello, who was sin-binned in the 48th minute which was capitalised by Connacht as they scored three tries between 50th and 54th minute, one being a penalty try and the other two was scored each by fullback Cian Kelleher and replacement Conor Carey following which Connacht raced to a 40-point lead.
Even though, replacement Tommaso d'Apice provided some respite by taking Zebre off the mark with a 60th minute try, Kelleher and Ili strolled across the post once again to secure a 45-point win for Connacht.
The win has taken Connacht to the top of the table with nine points while Zebre are placed at the bottom after losing both their games.