Zebre 10-19 Connacht
Dan Parks kicked 14 points as Connacht ground out a hard-fought 19-10 victory away at Zebre in Parma.
Dan Parks and Daniel Halangahu exchanged penalties in the early stages at the Stadio XXV Aprile as both sides wrestled for the upper hand in terms of possession and territory in what began as a very even contest.
But with clear-cut opportunities at a premium, Halangahu was guilty of straying wide of the posts with his next attempt and Parks made him pay with two more penalties before the break, the latter coming after Mauro Bergamasco was also sinbinned for a dangerous tackle.
And, although they failed to register any points in the opening ten minutes of the second half when they had a one-man advantage, Connacht really upped the intensity and their forwards in particular began to exert their authority on the game.
Parks, who was making his Heineken Cup debut for the Irishmen, continued his flawless kicking display with a fourth penalty on the hour mark before the visitors finally made the crucial breakthrough with a try several minutes later.
Flanker John Muldoon crashed over underneath the posts to ensure Connacht's relentless pressure was rewarded and Parks added the conversion to give them a commanding 19-3 lead.
The hosts did respond with a try of their own through replacement Filippo Ferrarini in the final ten minutes but they were unable to mount a serious comeback and Connacht held on to make a winning start to only their second ever Heineken Cup campaign.