Men from the West on a collision course with Wasps
Zebre 7 Connacht 52
Connacht blew away an incoherent and indisciplined Zebre at Stadio Lanfranchi yesterday to take charge of Pool 2 in The Champions Cup.
Pat Lam's men hold a precious two-point lead over Wasps following Dai Young's side's epic 20-all draw in Toulouse.
This all places even greater significance on Connacht's back-to-back fixtures against the English club, who have Jimmy Gopperth and Marty Moore in their ranks, beginning at Wasps in mid-December.
The scene for the eight-try rout in Italy was set by out-half Jack Carty, who made one and scored one of their two tries in three minutes.
This was accelerated by a red card shown to prop Oliviero Fabiani for blatantly biting Quinn Roux in the bottom of a ruck at the half-hour mark as Connacht led 14-0 at the interval.
The landslide was kick-started by Stacey Ili's second of three tries before a penalty try, Cian Kelleher (2) and Conor Carey all add to Zebre's woes.
Just when it looked like Gareth Steenson would come back to haunt his home province, Ulster's Paddy Jackson got one over on the Exeter Chief in an absorbing, error-riddled contest in Ravenhill on Saturday night.
Steenson's drop goal from mid-range in the 76th minute was trumped by Jackson's from close-range in the 78th minute to maintain the northern province's interest in making it out of the Pool.
"It just became a proper old school dog fight out there," said Ireland wing Andrew Trimble.
"Whenever it comes down to that it's about who wants it more and who has more character and who is going to be brave enough to stand up and take the game by the scruff of neck.
"We had to do that a couple of times," he said.
"Whenever there is three or four minutes left and you have to get down there we put Jackie in the pocket and he delivered."