It may have been a stuttering performance from Ulster, but it was one which was good enough to secure a 15-10 win over Benetton in Treviso.
The victory ended Ulster’s first block of fixtures this season and has them sitting second in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14.
It was really important that we won against a good Benetton side,” said head coach Dan McFarland.
“Although we put ourselves under the pump in the first half we showed some fight for every inch mentality.
“We fought hard and to go in at half-time 7-3 down was testament to our defence, and I was pleased with that aspect. It was a gusty effort.
“Coming out we showed much better urgency at the breakdown, and we managed to put some phases together, and it resulted in pressure and tries.”
Reflecting on the eight games in the PRO14 up to the break, McFarland added: “We have battled a lot in this first block and we have had a lot of young guys coming through, the Academy fellas making debuts, James Hume was another one in this game.
“It has been tough, but the one thing we have certainly learned is that we do have that (fight) every inch mentality.
“If a game goes to dogging out we know we are not going to lose on our mentality. Yes there are a little bit of smarts in our play that we could be better at but there is plenty to be excited about going forward.”
Defence was at the heart of Ulster’s win as they came back from 7-0 down after three minutes.
Benettonled three minutes in, Hame Faiva going over and Tommaso Allan tagging the conversion.
Billy Burns landed a long-range penalty to keep Ulster in touch, with Sean Reidy then powering in after the break.
Burns missed the goal but Rob Herring scored a second try and Burns was faultless at the second time of asking.
Michele Lamaro was in the sin bin for the hosts at the time although Ulster were unable to make the advantage count.
Allan slotted a penalty but it was not enough to spark a comeback as Dan McFarland’s men held on - debutant James Hume making a crucial tackle near the end to deny a certain try for the Italians.