Ulster survive Treviso scare
November 23, 2012
Brendan Williams scored for the home side
© PA Photos
Treviso's Alberto di Bernardo missed a last minute penalty to hand the home side a famous victory but Ulster maintained their unbeaten start the season with a narrow 16-15 triumph in Italy on Friday evening.
A week after an unimpressive success over bottom club Zebre, Mark Anscombe's side turned an interval deficit into a narrow victory. Peter Nelson's try and consistent kicking from Niall O'Connor enabled them to prevail by a single point.
Wing Andrew Trimble and scrum-half Paul Marshall, both released from the Ireland squad ahead of tomorrow's Test against Argentina, returned for Ulster. Academy prospect Nelson got only his second run-out at full-back, while Tom Court, Rob Herring and Declan Fitzpatrick replaced the benched Callum Black, Nigel Brady and John Afoa in an all-new front row.
The hosts took the lead in the sixth minute when fluid movement from the Italian backs end in a try for Brendan Williams, which was converted by Di Bernardo. Nick Williams was denied a 17th-minute try thanks to an inconclusive video replay, before O'Connor got the visitors on the board with a penalty after Treviso had collapsed a scrum.
Six minutes later, Marshall's quickly-tapped penalty caught out the home defence and he supplied Court, who in turn fed Nelson to cross in the corner. O'Connor's conversion from wide had the visitors 10-7 ahead.
However, the hosts hit back with Di Bernardo's penalty squaring the scores after half an hour, then eight minutes later Ludovico Nitoglia exposed another post-scrum gap down the Ulster right to slide over in the corner. Bernardo's conversion was wide but the Italian side went into the interval with a 15-10 lead.
Ulster started the second slowly but were given hope when a Treviso offside gave O'Connor the chance to despatch his second short-range penalty of the encounter, which he accepted. The visitors were denied a try when the TMO was faced with the impossible task of determining whether Nick Williams had grounded amid a mass of bodies.
The lead changed hands decisively in the 58th minute when O'Connor got his angles right from wide out. Treviso rallied but a 72nd-minute penalty proved well out of Di Bernardo's range - and five minutes later he squandered a great chance from a more promising position, after Afoa had been pulled up for coming in from the side. It meant the home side only had a losing bonus point to show from a strong performance, while Ulster were grateful for a win from a game they failed to impress in.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside