Connacht consolidated third place in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14 with a hard-fought 6-5 win over Zebre in Parma.

Jack Carty's two first-half penalties proved enough to beat the bottom-placed Italians and establish a four-point lead over Cardiff Blues, who visit the Sportsground next Saturday, in fourth.

Zebre winger Mattia Bellini crossed for the only try of the match with a powerful run just after the break.

Darragh Leader dotted down for Connacht with 25 minutes remaining, but the score was disallowed by the television match official because of a forward pass earlier in the move.

Zebre applied late pressure to claim a fourth win of the season, but Edoardo Padovani and Guglielmo Palazzani both sent penalty attempts wide.