Ulster to open up Kingspan as Dan McFarland highlights four-try Marcell Coetzee

Coach Dan McFarland hailed Marcell Coetzee as he scored four of Ulster’s nine tries in the 57-14 win away at Zebre.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16th November 2020, 8:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 2:03 am
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland. Pic by Pacemaker.
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland. Pic by Pacemaker.

McFarland’s side made in six wins out of six by putting Zebre to the sword at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma - out-scoring the Italians by nine tries to two.

The No8, celebrating his 50th cap, became the first Ulster player to score four tries in a competitive game.

“Marcell did a great job, he’s a great player, it’s his 50th cap and he’s spent a long time getting there, he deserves the plaudits,” said McFarland, who used the opportunity to rotate his panel. “I thought Ethan McIlroy did really well and we’re really pleased with him, he was very composed, a lot of his defensive positioning was excellent, he took his try really well.

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“I thought Bill Johnston was excellent at 10, controlling the game and implementing the game plan.

“There were a lot of guys in there who contributed to a pleasing result.

“We’ve got a lot of players who might not roll out in what people would assume to be our Champions Cup team who played through this whole period.

“They’ve done a really good job, that ‘building the depth’ cliche gets bandied around a little but it’s true.

“You have to have a squad of players who can play well and, bottom line, win games.”

Ulster will open up Kingspan to 1,000 supporters on Sunday for the PRO14 clash with Scarlets.

Having played behind-closed-doors fixtures since October 2 due to coronavirus restrictions, 500 pairs of tickets will now be made available via a #TogetherUlster members-only online ballot process for 24 hours from Tuesday at 1pm.

South African Coetzee got the game’s first try on six minutes.

It started with a penalty Ulster drove deep into Zebre territory before a crossfield, Ethan McIlroy caught it and then the visitors hit the power switch with Jordi Murphy, Eric O’Sullivan and Sam Carter all having darts for the line.

The Italians repelled waves of attack before Coetzee crashed over and out half Bill Johnston converted.

Zebre worked a scrum across the pitch and won a penalty, with the advantage out half Antonio Rizzi put a speculative punt up in the air, centre Enrico Lucchin beat Ethan McIlroy to the high ball, he didn’t catch it cleanly, winger Pierre Bruno pounced on the loose ball and despite juggling it behind his back he managed to keep control and ground it, Rizzi tied the score with the conversion.

Twice Ulster turned down kickable penalties to go for the corner and on both occasions Zebre were able to stop the maul and clear. It was third time lucky for Ulster on 24 minutes, again they kicked a penalty to the corner, the forwards were able to set the driving maul up and Coetzee surged over for his sixth try of the season with Johnston converting.

Coetzee gave away a soft penalty at the break down but Ulster went punished as Rizzi dragged his kick wide.

Ulster were gifted their third try four minutes later, Michael Lowry cleared his lines which a huge kick, the Ulster full back then charged Rizzi’s attempted clearance down.

Lowry gathered and threw a wild pass infield, the Zebre out half could caught it and knocked it to centre Stewart Moore to gather and fall over the line, Johnston converted.

Coetzee completed his hat-trick to wrap up the bonus point try on 35 minutes, again Ulster kicked a penalty to the corner, the forwards mauled and the Springbok No8 was able to dot down.

Johnston failed to and Dan McFarland’s side led 26-7 at the interval.

Johnston was next to profit from a driving maul on 46 minutes, Zebre stop the forwards close to the line before Alby Mathewson put his out half over on the blindside with the No10 converting his own try.

Craig Gilroy set up Luke Marshall for Ulster’s sixth try on 50 minutes.

The centre took his winger’s pass before wrong-footing four defenders to score, Johnston added the extras.

Replacement scrum half Nicolò Casilio caught Ulster napping as he darted over from a quick tap penalty with Paolo Pescetto.

Coetzee got his fourth try form a driving maul on 59 minutes.

Ethan McIlroy got a try on his first start and replacement scrum half Dave Shanahan rounded of the rout with a ninth try with the final play of the game which Johnston converted.

ULSTER: M Lowry, C Gilroy, L Marshall, S Moore, E McIlroy, B Johnston, A Mathewson, E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore, A O’Connor, S Carter, G Jones, J Murphy, M Coetzee,

Replacements: A McBurney for Andrew 55 mins, A Warwick for O’Sullivan 55 mins, G Milasinovich for M Moore 47 mins, D O’Connor for A O’Connor 51 mins, S Reidy, D Shanahan for Mathewson 55 mins, I Madigan for S Moore 51 mins, R Lyttle for Lowry 61 mins

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