Ulster struggle to beat Treviso in Italy

ON THE ATTACK: Ulster's Niall O'Connor
ON THE ATTACK: Ulster's Niall O'Connor

Ulster are still unbeaten in the RaboDirect Pro12 after victory in Italy on Friday night.

A week after an unimpressive success over Zebre, Mark Anscombe’s side turned an interval deficit into a narrow victory over Benetton Treviso.

A fine try from Peter Nelson’s and consistent kicking from Niall O’Connor enabled them to prevail by a single point.

Wing Andrew Trimble and scrum-half Paul Marshall returned for Ulster.

Treviso took the lead in the sixth minute when fluid movement from the Italian backs end in a try for Brendan Williams, which was converted by Alberto di Bernardo.

Ulster’s Nick Williams was denied a 17th-minute try thanks to an inconclusive video replay, before O’Connor got the visitors on the board with a penalty after Treviso had collapsed a scrum.

Six minutes later, Marshall’s quickly-tapped penalty caught out the home defence and he supplied Court, who in turn fed Nelson to cross in the corner.

Outhalf O’Connor’s conversion from wide had the visitors 10-7 ahead.

However, the hosts hit back with Di Bernardo’s penalty squaring the scores after half an hour.

Then eight minutes later Ludovico Nitoglia exposed another post-scrum gap down the Ulster right to slide over in the corner.

A conversion from Bernardo was wide but the Italian side went into the interval with a 15-10 lead.

Ulster started the second slowly but were given hope when a Treviso offside gave O’Connor the chance to despatch his second short-range penalty of the encounter, which he accepted.

And they were denied a try when the TMO was faced with the impossible task of determining whether Nick Williams had grounded amid a mass of bodies.

The lead changed hands decisively in the 58th minute when O’Connor got his angles right from wide out.

Treviso rallied but a 72nd-minute penalty proved well out of Di Bernardo’s range.

Aand five minutes later he squandered a great chance from a more promising position, after Afoa had been pulled up for coming in from the side.

The result means the home side only had a losing bonus point to show from the game.

And Ulster were just grateful for a win from a game they struggled to win.