The northern province trailed 23-20 as the clock ran into overtime at the end of the second half and looked to condemn them to their second defeat of the season against the Italian minnows. Cue one final throw of the dice, however, and a dramatic late push to tee up Whitten for the game-breaking score.
“That’s testament of the belief that these guys have now,” remarked McLaughlin afterwards.
“That is something we have being trying to instil in them over the last three seasons. We were nip and tuck more than once but we ground out hard wins.”
A third-minute try by Enrico Ceccato had given Treviso an early lead but was cancelled out by Chris Henry’s 23rd-minute touchdown. Alberto di Bernardo’s try 10 minutes into the second half looked like the winner, but Paddy Wallace replied with one of his own to set up a grand-stand finale.
Scorers for Treviso: Try: Ceccato, Di Bernardo. Cons: Burton (two). Pen: Burton. Drops: Burton (two).
Scorers for Ulster: Try: Henry, Wallace, Whitten. Cons: Humphreys, Pienaar (two). Pens: Humphreys, Pienaar.
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.
Ref: L Hodges (WRU).