Comfortable win for Ulster but missed chances squander bonus point
Ulster 22 Zebre 7
It should have been five PRO 14 League points for Ulster but too many scoring opportunities were squandered in the atrocious playing conditions at Kingspan.
Zebre started brilliantly with a try in the second minute when scrum-half Marcello Violi popped an inside pass to Mattia Bellini five metres out for the winger to go under the posts. Ulster were unfortunate to lose the services of Will Addison with an arm injury after 17 minutes so Louis Ludik went to full-back for Craig Gilroy to come on to the wing.
Man of the Match Luke Marshall set up Ulster’s first try when he cut through to give David Shanahan the simple task of scoring for Johnston to goal. In an evenly contested first period out-half Johnston made it 10-7 with a 31st minute penalty.
Ulster completed dominated the first ten minutes of the second half and should have increased their advantage. Johnston who had a brilliant game considering the handling conditions was brought down just short before another break by Marshall resulted in Shanahan remaining upright instead of sliding over for a try. Then Rob Lyttle’s failure to pass to an unmarked Gilroy six metres out was another chance lost but the pressure had to tell and a penalty try was awarded.
Towards the close both teams brought on their replacements and after a number of penalties the Italians were shown the yellow card for the second time in the half. The extra man allowed Johnston to accurately cross kick for Lyttle to simply catch and dive over.
Ulster scorers: One pen try, D Shanahan, R Lyttle; one try each, B Johnston; one pen, one con
Zebre scorers: M Bellini; one try, C Canna:;one con
Ulster - W Addison, L Ludik, M Faddes, L Marshall, R Lyttle, B Johnston, D Shanahan, J McGrath, R Herring (c), T O'Toole, A O’Connor, K Treadwell, M Rea, N Timoney, M Coetzee. Replacements - A McBurney, K McCall, R Kane, S Carter, S Reidy, J Cooney, A Curtis, C Gilroy Zebre - J Laloifi, C Walker, J Elliott, T Boni, M Bellini, C Canna, G Palazzani, D Fischetti, O Fabiani, G Zilocchi, I Nagle, G Biagi, M Mbanda, G Licata, R Giammarioli. Replacements - L Bigi, D Rimpelli, E Bello, L Krumov, A Tauyavuca, R Tenga, E Lucchini, J Renton
Referee - S Grove-White