Payne agony as Ulster fall

ULSTER crashed to their first defeat in any competition to an Italian team and third in succession when they were outplayed by Benetton Treviso at Ravenhill last night.

To make matters worse they have probably lost their star New Zealand signing Jared Payne for the rest of the season after he picked up what looked like a ruptured Achilles tendon in the 16th minute.

Following loses to the Ospreys and the Dragons, it was hoped that home venue would help bring them back on track in the RaboDirect Pro12. Not a bit of it as a multitude of mistakes, lazy running and passing, poor scrummaging and missed tackles gave Treviso a fairly easy ride.

Two atrocious passes deep in their own 22 by the Ulster half-backs set the tone and gave Treviso the opportunity to open the scoring in the seventh minute when Kristopher Burton floated over a close-range penalty. The fly-half finally ending-up with 18 points.

Treviso maintained a vice-like grip on the game thanks mainly to a litany of Ulster mistakes and Burton’s cute kicking to the corners.

After Brendan Williams’ storming run and a succession of collapsing five-metre scrums, Ulster had Declan Fitzpatrick yellow-carded and conceded a penalty try, which Burton duly converted.

Burton slotted another penalty and then replacement full-back Adam D’Arcy kicked into Burton’s gleeful arms and the Treviso fly-half sprinted 55 unobstructed metres to the try line, adding the extras himself.

Flanker Pedrie Wannenburg, the only Ulster player worth his salt on the night, did get a try brace for Ulster late on but it would have cut much joy in the changing room afterwards.

Scorers for Ulster: Tries: Wannenburg 2, Con: Humphreys.

Scorers for Treviso: Tries: Burton and penalty try. Cons: Burton 2: Pens: Burton 3

ULSTER: J Payne (D’Arcy 16); C Gilroy, D Cave, N Spence, I Whitten (Jackson 40); I Humphreys, P Marshall; D Fitzpatrick, A Kyriacou, J Cronin (Macklin 61), T Barker (Stevenson 56), D Tuohy, P Wannenburg, M McComish (Diack 77), C Henry.

BENETTON TREVISO: L Nitoglia; T Iannone; E Galon (Sgarbi 54), L Morisi, B Williams; K Burton, T Botes; M Rizzo (Muccignat 68), E Ceccato (Vidal 54), L Cittadini, A Pavanello, V Bernabo (Padro 68), F Minto, Vermaak, M Filippucci (Vosawai 54).

Referee: S Penne (Italy).

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