A last-gasp try by Ian Whitten secured a dramatic victory for Ulster yesterday as they came from behind to beat Treviso.
Brian McLaughlin's men had to wait 81 minutes before super-sub Whitten crossed the chalk, breaking Italian hearts and ensuring Ulster avoided the ignominy of being the first non-Italian side to suffer a double-league defeat against Treviso.
Chris Henry and Paddy Wallace also crossed for tries for the visitors, whose hopes of claiming a top-four berth remain alive and well after what was, in the end, a smash-and-grab victory.
There was nothing to separate the sides after a finely balanced opening 40 minutes.
Treviso had looked the brighter earlier on, scoring an outstanding team try after just three minutes, finished off by hooker Enrico Ceccato, and converted by Kris Burton to leave Ulster on the ropes.
Ulster bounced back strongly, however, Ian Humphreys nailing a stunning long-range penalty before Chris Henry capitalised on a Wallace break to touch down for an opportunist try.
Humphreys added the conversion, Burton responded with a drop goal for Treviso before trading penalties with Ruan Pienaar, all of which saw the sides locked at 13-13 going into the tunnel.
As it was, the visitors looked decidedly loose after the break, and it was Treviso who struck first blood, another drop goal attempt by Burton, taking the score to 16-13.
That remained the score until 10 minutes from time, Alberto di Bernardo crossing over for what seemed to be the match-winning try, converted by Burton.
Ulster replied immediately with a try of their own, scored by Wallace and converted Pienaar, but looked destined for defeat until Whitten pulled it from the flames with literally the last roll of the dice. Pienaar added a superb conversion from the sideline.
Scorers -- Treviso: Ceccato, Di Bernardo try each, Burton pen, 2 cons, 2 d-gs. Ulster: Henry, Wallace, Whitten try each, Humphreys pen, con, Pienaar 2 cons, pen
Treviso: B Williams (A Di Bernardo 66); T Iannone, A Sgarbi, G Garcia, L Nitoglia; K Burton, E Gori (F Semenzato 75); M Rizzo (M Muccignat 62), Ceccato (D Vidal 62), L Cittadini (I Fernandez Rouyet 62); A Pavanello (F Minto 62), C Van Zyl; A Zanni, M Vosawai (V Bernabo 75), R Barbieri (G Padro 52)
Ulster: A D'Arcy; C Gilroy, D Cave (I Whitten 64), P Wallace, S Terblanche (N Spence 50); I Humphreys, R Pienaar; T Court (P McAllister 62), A Kryiacou (N Brady 52), J Afoa, J Muller (capt) (L Stevenson 60), D Tuohy, C Henry, W Faloon, R Diack
Referee: L Hodges (WRU)
Sunday Indo Sport