Ulster grind out victory in dreadful conditions but fail to land bonus point against Treviso

Ulster 19Treviso 7

Adam McKendry reports from the Kingspan Stadium

ULSTER BLEW THE chance to go level with the Scarlets in fourth in the Guinness Pro12 as they won 19-7 at the Kingspan Stadium against Treviso but failed to pick up the bonus point.

In absolutely dreadful conditions, which saw torrential rain for all 80 minutes and featured puddles on the pitch, Ulster slogged to an unattractive but gritty win that takes their winning streak to four.

But they will be disappointed not to score the four tries after passing up many opportunities to cross the line in both halves, and that will overshadow the win thanks to tries from Jared Payne, Sean Reidy and Charles Piutau.

Treviso had a chance to open the scoring after just two minutes from a penalty, only for scrum-half Tito Tebaldi to skew the kick wide, losing his footing slightly in the awful conditions.

From there it was all Ulster, who despite the conditions were clearly seeking the maximum five-point haul, and they kept the pressure on through several kicks to the corner, however they struggled to break open a stern Treviso rearguard.

Eventually they found the way through, though, a delicate, well-timed pass from Stuart Olding setting Payne through the gap and under the posts for the opening score midway through the half.

To the disbelief of the crowd, that was as good as it got in the first half for the Ulstermen, with a combination of their own poor play and some impressive Treviso defence keeping them at bay for the remainder of the opening 40.

Early in the second half the hosts got a boost when Treviso flanker Francesco Minto was sin-binned for repeated offences and they immediately made it count, Reidy driving over from the five-metre line.

The third followed five minutes later when Olding, now at fly-half, picked out Piutau with a pinpoint cross-field kick and the winger did the rest, finishing in the tightest of spaces in the left corner.

Remarkably, Ulster couldn’t find that elusive fourth try, nor did they even come relatively close to it, with Treviso finishing the stronger of the two teams, having unloaded the bench.

They weren’t to be kept scoreless either, getting a deserved try after some sustained pressure on the Ulster line 10 minutes from the end, with former Ulster lock Filo Paulo leaping over the top of a ruck to score the touchdown.

The hosts desperately sought the bonus-point try, but in the end their efforts were fruitless, despite a prolonged period of play after the 80-minute mark, ending what was a dismal night, in terms of weather and rugby.

Ulster’s Marcell Coetzee with Treviso’s Teofilo Paulo. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Ulster: Craig Gilroy (Jacob Stockdale 61); Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Stuart Olding, Charles Piutau; Peter Nelson (Luke Marshall 54), Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 75); Callum Black (Andy Warwick 53), Rob Herring (John Andrew 71), Wiehahn Herbst (Ricky Lutton 53); Kieran Treadwell, Franco van der Merwe; Roger Wilson (Clive Ross 48), Sean Reidy (Pete Browne 66), Marcell Coetzee.

Benetton Rugby Treviso: Luca Sperandio; Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Iannone, Michael Tagicakibau (Alberto Sgarbi 53), Andrea Buondonno (Andrea Pratichetti 55); Ian McKinley, Tito Tebaldi (Giorgio Bronzini 58); Federico Zani (Romulo Acosta 61), Luca Bigi (Roberto Santamaria 55), Tiziano Pasquali (Matteo Zanusso 55); Filo Paulo, Dean Budd; Marco Lazzaroni, Francesco Minto (Filippo Gerosa 71), Robert Barbieri (Guglielmo Zanini 58).

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales).

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