Ulster up to second after seeing off Zebre

Ulster up to second after seeing off Zebre

Ulster made it four wins from five games in the Guinness PRO14 to move up to second in Conference A after a hard-fought 22-7 win over Zebre at a rain-drenched Kingspan Stadium.

Tries from Dave Shanahan and Rob Lyttle, along with a penalty try, brought Ulster four points from this dour encounter which also saw the Irish province unexpectedly fail to take a bonus point.

Ulster led 10-7 after coming from behind thanks to Shanahan’s score and a conversion and penalty from Bill Johnston.

All Zebre’s points came in the opening half, through a try from Mattia Bellini and conversion from Carlo Canna, but when Ulster upped the pressure in the second half the Italians saw two players binned, forcing them to play for 20 minutes reduced to 14 men which allowed Ulster to profit.

Zebre took an early lead after winger Bellini scored following Guglielmo Palazzani’s inside flip-pass. Canna converted and the Italians were 7-0 ahead with less than a minute played.

Ulster, who had struggled up until this point, finally got on the scoreboard after 20 minutes.

Marcell Coetzee’s pass in the tackle allowed Luke Marshall to burst through and he put Shanahan clear to run in. Johnston converted to tie the scores.

Ulster took the lead for the first time in the 32nd minute when Johnston kicked a penalty after Zebre had been penalised for straying offside.

There were no further scores in what remained of the half, with the opening 40 minutes ending with Ulster running a scrum but eventually having to kick the ball away.

Rob Herring then surged over in the 47th minute though Ulster had initially lost the lineout but Kieran Treadwell’s block on Maxime Mbanda ruled it out.

Ulster came back though, with a 51st-minute penalty try giving them a 17-7 lead which also saw Ian Nagle booked after he pulled down the home side’s maul.

The hosts failed to score during Nagle’s absence but they were now turning the screw and when flanker Giovanni Licata was also sin-binned shortly after Nagle’s return, Ulster got their third try after Johnston’s cross kick for Lyttle.

At 22-7, Johnston failed to convert and that ended the scoring.

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