Fionn Carr marked his return to The Sportsground with a late try as Connacht got their RaboDirect PRO12 season off to a perfect start with a 25-16 victory against Zebre.
Carr, who was back in action for Connacht after a two-year stint at Leinster, scored in the second half before Andrea Manici broke through for a consolation try at the death.
Tries from Nathan White and Matt Healy saw the hosts race away in the first half while Dan Parks recovered from a sluggish start to kick two penalties and two conversions.
A deadeye Luciano Orquera was on target with all three of his penalties – and a successful conversion – but Zebre were always trailing a dominant Connacht.
Former Samoa captain Pat Lam took over the reins at The Sportsground in the summer and saw his new charges get off to a flying start as tighthead White touched down for the hosts after Andrew Browne poached the ball from a lineout.
The try was converted by Parks but almost immediately Orquera drilled a penalty between the posts after Connacht failed to roll away.
Parks, who is into his second season at Connacht after making the switch from RaboDirect PRO12 rivals Cardiff Blues last year, missed two of his own penalties in quick succession midway through the half.
But the Irish outfit finally pressed home their superior play after 29 minutes when winger Healy stole in for the try – and this time, Parks was on point to nail the extras.
Though the veteran fly-half was hit-and-miss from the tee, his boot was helping to pin Zebre back inside their own 22 and following an advantage at the scrum, he was at hand to smash through a penalty just before half-time.
Zebre, who failed to record a win in their maiden RaboDirect PRO12 season last year, boosted their hopes of a comeback after the break as Italy international Orquera made no mistake with his second penalty of the afternoon.
Sensing an opportunity the visitors pushed on and their trusty fly-half kicked another three points on to the board on the hour mark, as Parks’ penalty misses began to look costly for Connacht.
However, his kicking blossomed as the game went on and his penalty helped the home side record an almost immediate response to a Zebre side growing in confidence.
The Italians could not find a way through a stout Connacht line and their subsequent chances came in the form of more penalties – centre Gonzalo Garcia booting wide an ambitious effort from just inside Zebre’s half.
Replacement wing Matteo Pratichetti was sin binned with six minutes to go before wing Carr put the gloss on proceedings for Connacht – as Parks converted – while Manici replied in stoppage time.