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Best finishes Italian job early to give Ulster Euro lift

Ulster got the fillip they needed ahead of next week's crucial visit of Biarritz with a comfortable Magners League victory -- despite failing to register a point in the second half.

With a constant drizzle and bitingly cold wind at Ravenhill, Ulster had too much firepower for the Italians in the first half and had the bonus point wrapped up after 35 minutes with tries from Ruan Pienaar, Nevin Spence, Adam D'Arcy and skipper Rory Best.

However, coach Brian McLaughlin will be disappointed that his side failed to show a ruthless streak in not adding to their 32-6 lead after the break.

The Italians started the brighter and they were immediately rewarded with a penalty after five minutes which their out-half Willem de Waal popped over.

Ian Humphreys levelled things up four minutes later, before he instigated a superb opening try for Ulster in the 13th minute with a quick throw-in to Andrew Trimble.

The Ireland winger carved his way upfield, with the ball threaded through the hands of Best and Johann Muller before finding its way to Pienaar. The scrum-half sprinted in for the touchdown, with Humphreys adding the extras.

Treviso pulled back three points through the boot of de Waal, only for Humphreys to respond with a brilliant effort from half-way.

Spence grabbed Ulster's second try in the 25th minute, getting his boot to the ball and wrong-footing the Treviso defence, following up to touch down. Humphreys converted -- as he did with the third try which stemmed from a quick penalty deep in his own half by Pienaar. Wallace,Trimble and Pieenar took the ball on and Pedrie Wannenburg fed D'Arcy, who spun out of a tackle to crash in under the posts.

It was no surprise when the bonus arrived five minutes before half-time, a catch and drive at a five-metre line-out that allowed skipper Best to burrow his way over.

The sight of Stephen Ferris coming off the bench in the 47th minute didn't frighten Treviso as they barnstormed their way upfield, with lock Gonzalo Padro crashing over and de Waal converting. With Ulster switching off completely, Treviso dominated possession and territory and were unlucky not to pick up another try.

It was not a brilliant display from the hosts, but it is a springboard for next week's vital game.

Ulster -- A D'Arcy; A Trimble (McIlwaine 50), N Spence (Whitten 77) P Wallace, S Danielli; I Humphreys, R Pienaar (Marshall 40); T Court (Young 76), R Best (capt, N Brady 77), BJ Botha (Fitzpatrick 67); J Muller, T Barker (Tuohy 48); C Henry, W Faloon (Ferris 47), P Wannenburg.

Treviso -- K Burton; L Nitoglia, T Benvenuti (Gonzalo 46), A Sgarbi, A Vilk; W de Waal, F Semenzato; I Fernandez Ruoyet Allori, L Ghiraldini, (capt, Sbaraglini 59), L Cittadini (Di Santo 59); G Padro, C van Zyl; M Filipucci (Derbyshire 67), A Zanni, M Vosawai (F Minto 46).

Ref -- L Hodges (WRU).

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Irish Independent