Ferris wins first half of battle

ULSTER successfully manoeuvred the first part of their Heineken Cup back-to-back clashes with Aironi at Ravenhill last night with a bonus-point victory in Pool Four.

It was not a polished effort by any means but there was plenty of shine in the scoreline with the five tries putting a gloss on things.

It was Stephen Ferris, again man of the match, who started the try-scoring, with Adam D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson also crossing the whitewash, while Ian Humphreys added three conversions.

Ulster took an immediate stranglehold of the game and in the opening 10 minutes Aironi were never allowed to venture out of their own half.

But once again a lack of concentration and silly errors stunted Ulster’s progress as the Italian visitors slowly found their feet.

However, it was no surprise that Ulster finally carved an opening for that man Ferris to do what is now becoming a weekly habit. The move originated from deep with Darren Cave cutting a swathe up the left; the ball was moved to number eight Pedrie Wannenburg who slipped the ball to Ferris. He steamed up the touchline, brushing aside an attempted tackle, to charge over out wide. Humphreys converted from the touchline.

Ulster, though conceded an easy penalty four minutes later with Tito Tebaldi punishing a ruck offence 30 metres out.

Both Tebaldi, twice, and Humphreys then missed kickable penalties by a whisker before Aironi were reduced to 14 men in the run-up to the break when full-back Giulio Toniolatti saw yellow for interfering with the ball at the base of a ruck.

Ulster went for broke and after sustained pressure in the red zone, it was full-back D’Arcy who flung himself over for the second try.

The third quarter was vintage Ulster. It only took them two minutes to push out their advantage with their third try, again made by Ferris. His surging run allowed D’Arcy to put workaholic Trimble away down the right and the Ireland winger charged over.

Coach Brian McLaughlin rang the changes with new recruit Stefan Terblanche making his debut, while Tom Court and Paul Marshall were also introduced.

And it was Marshall who grabbed that all-important bonus point six minutes later when he took a quick tap penalty five metres out to waltz over the line.

It was all Ulster as Aironi had great difficult getting their hands on the ball and try number five came compliments of replacement Jackson, who took a wrap-around ball to sprint in.

It was all done and dusted by the time Aironi finally grabbed a consolation try through replacement hooker Tommaso D’Apice.

The victory will give a big boost to Ulster who travel to Viadanna next Saturday for the return clash.

Scorers for Ulster: Tries: Ferris, D’Arcy, Trimble, Marshall, Jackson. Cons: Humphreys 3.

Scorers for Aironi: Try: D’Apice. Pen: Tebaldi. Con: Olivier.ULSTER: A D’Arcy; A Trimble (Terblanche 50), D Cave, N Spence (Jackson 52), C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar (Marshall 50); P McAllister (Court 50), R Best (Kyriacou 70), J Afoa (Macklin 70), J Muller, D Tuohy (Stevenson 66), S Ferris (R Diack 66), C Henry, P Wannenburg.

AIRONI: G Toniolatti ; S Sinoti, R Quartaroli, G Pavon (Benettin 66), M Pratichetti; T Tebaldi (Olivier 61), T Keats (Bronzini 61); S Perugini (de Marchi 54), F Ongaro (D’Apice 61), L Romano (Redolfini 57), C del Fava Biagi 73), M Bortolami, N Cattina (Ferrarini 74), S Favaro, J Sole.

Referee: Andrew Small (England).

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