Two tries each from Caolin Blade and Tom McCartney did most of the damage as Connacht overcame Benetton 41-5 at the Sportsground for their first win of the Pro14 season.

Beaten 18-10 by Scarlets in their opener, Andy Friend's men rebounded in bonus point-winning fashion with the foundations laid by a three-try first half - Kyle Godwin with a superb solo score and Blade and McCartney also touching down to establish a 22-0 lead.

Man of the match Blade and McCartney crossed again during the third quarter, sandwiching a lone Luca Sperandio score for the Italians, before replacement Kieran Marmion wrapped up the six-try success with five minutes remaining.Benetton ran defending champions Leinster to just five points last week, but the westerners had them under pressure from first whistle to last.


A big carry from Connacht captain Jarrad Butler preceded a Conor Fitzgerald penalty goal before Australian centre Godwin countered superbly from 60 metres out, weaving through midfield and shrugging off Sperandio to score wide on the right.

Scrum-half Blade added a smartly-taken 18th-minute effort, firstly luring the Italians into conceding a penalty before attacking off the maul where a couple of deft sidesteps took him around his opposite number Luca Petrozzi. Fitzgerald converted to open up a 15-point advantage.

A barnstorming 23rd-minute maul put hooker McCartney over for another converted try, following an initial lineout steal from Gavin Thornbury and Fitzgerald's booming kick to touch.

Benetton's Irish-born Italian international Ian McKinley 

Connacht's swarming defence negated the influence of former Connacht favourite Ian Keatley, with Quinn Roux's forceful tackling driving them back behind the gain-line.

Connacht failed to score from some late scrum pressure before half-time, but the bonus point arrived within three minutes of the restart.

Blade combined with Peter Robb, Godwin's decoy run causing confusion in the Benetton defence, and the nippy half-back needed no second invitation as he zoomed through the gap to complete his brace.

Fitzgerald converted for a 29-0 scoreline, the concession bringing the best out of the Benetton attack as Keatley looped around to exploit space on the right and feed full-back Sperandio to finish past Tiernan O'Halloran in the 47th minute.

That score went unconverted as did Connacht's fifth, McCartney burrowing over on the back of a defence-splitting run by Robb who was stopped short by Keatley.

O'Halloran went close from a chip over the top and Ultan Dillane was foiled by Ian McKinley's try-saving rip, but a sixth try did eventually come for Connacht when Marmion grounded the ball with an outstretched left arm following some determined carrying from his forwards.