BENETTON TREVISO 13 ULSTER 32
It was a case of getting the Italian job done for Ulster on Saturday afternoon as they secured a try scoring bonus point win over Benetton Treviso.
After a mediocre first half by Ulster standards, the patience was rewarded in the second half as the Irish Province crossed for four tries against the Italians who were to suffer their 26th successive loss.
Ulster showed seven changes from the side which had defeated Oyonnax 56-3 the previous week in the European Champions Cup.
The Irish Province had scored eight tries against the Top 14 side in ideal conditions in Belfast, but in Treviso things were not as pleasant and conditions made handling difficult.
Ulster made a solid start and dominated territory and possession. However, the Italians restricted them to just one Ian Humphreys penalty.
The home side hit a purple patch just going into the second quarter, but Ulster’s defence was solid and kept their line intact.
Fullback Jayden Hayward did bang over a penalty to level things on 32 minutes.
There were few other highlights as the clock ticked down to the break, but Ulster went in 6-3 ahead after another Humphreys penalty.
The initial start to the second half was poor from Ulster and Hayward levelled matters once again with soft penalty giveaway by the visitors.
However, Ulster’s pack grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and having turned down two kickable penalties, a superb mauling effort was rewarded when openside Sean Reidy was driven over. Humphreys added the extra to put seven points between the sides.
A break then by Reidy which saw Roger Wilson and Franco van der Merwe involved, saw ball fired to the backline and Stuart Olding - making his first appearance for the senior side in 10 months after injury - cut a lovely line to go clear before being hauled down at the Treviso ‘22’.
The forwards carried again and then centre Darren Cave took a clever line and the pass from Paul Marshall saw him in under the posts just before the hour mark. Humpheys’ conversion made it 20-8.
In an interesting substitution, Ian Humphreys was taken off and replaced by Luke Marshall - which saw Olding move into the outhalf position.
Ulster’s third try came after winger Rory Scholes intercepted and raced in from halfway, with Olding slotting over the conversion in front of the posts after
Lorcan Dow made his bow for the Irish Province when he replaced blindside Clive Ross.
It was probably fitting that the fourth and bonus point securing try was by Olding. Ulster had patiently built having turned over a Treviso scrum and Olding, having started one attack on the left, was on hand to take ball on the left several phases left and power over.
Touching down in the corner as he did, his conversion was always going to be tough and scuffing the effort did not help - although it mattered little as the Italian job was completed.
Treviso replacement Braam Steyn got over for a consolation try at the death, Hayward converting, but that was not taking the gloss of an impressive second half display from Ulster.