GUINNESS PRO12: Jared Payne bags try hat-trick as Ulster move into fourth
Fullback Jared Payne bagged a hat-trick of tires as Ulster put Zebre to the sword and secured all five match points to push themselves back into the top four of the Guinness PRO12.
With defending champions Glasgow inflicting a heavy defeat on Scarlets in Wales Ulster seized the opportunity to leapfrog the Welsh side with a ??-?? Victory in Parma.
Ulster made their intentions clear when, after just two minutes, a wrap around move involving outhalf Paddy Jackson and number eight Roger Wilson - setting a new appearance record for Ulster on 204 - with the latter going clear on the blindside and missing out Payne to send Ruan Pienaar over.
Jackson converted but Zebre hit back within five minutes with a try from Guigllemo Palazzani crossing and the conversion from Carlo Canna levelled matters.
Tommy Bowe, making his first senior appearance of the season since suffering a serious knee injury with Ireland at the Rugby World Cup last October, took a lovely line to go over for a try on 12 minutes, Jackson again converting.
Zebre remained in touch with Canna kicking an 18th minute penalty to leave it 10-14.
Ulster’s dominance was eventually rewarded in the second quarter.
First Craig Gilroy raced on to a lovely grubber kick from Pienaar after 24 minutes and just before the break Payne went in at the corner after a lovely quick pass from Bowe which secured the bonus point.
Jackson added one of the two conversions to send Ulster ini 26-10 ahead at the break.
With Zebre down to 14-men after the sin-binning of Palazzani during the Payne try at the end of the first half, Ulster seized the chance to extend their lead.
Payne crossed on 43 and 51 minutes and Pienaar, taking over the kicking duties from Jackson who was retired on 44 minutes, landed both conversions to leave Ulster well in command at 40-10.
A bad mix up by Ulster resulted in a loose ball falling kindly for Zebre replacement Ulrich Beyers to race away and score under the posts leaving Canna with a simple conversion.
Ulster took the opportunity to empty the bench and the game became a bit loose by both teams.
But Bowe put the icing on the cake with the seventh try for his side a minute from the end.
Stuart Olding converted to seal a 47-17 win.