Treviso caused a big surprise at Ravenhill on Friday night when they defeated Ulster by 23-12 in the RaboDirect Pro12 series. It was the home sides third successive defeat in a row and they are now in trouble as the competition takes a break.
The Italians had the better of the early exchanges and led 3-0 after only seven minutes. Chris Burton kicked the penalty that gave the visitors the advantage. The outhalf was the best player on view in the first half, and his kicking for touch was of the highest order. Time and time again he forced Ulster back into their own half, as he used the strong wind to gain ground. Only for some excellent defending by the home side, the score could have been much bigger at the break. Ulster struggled with the scrum throughout the opening forty minutes and eventually paid the price.
Brendan Williams made a huge run with ten minutes to play and but for a try saving tackle from Darran Cave, the Italians could have been 8-0 in front. Williams beat the entire home defence but was just stopped short on the line. The visitors spent the remainder of the half camped inside the Ulster 22, and it only looked a matter of time before they made their possession tell on the scoreboard. It took until the thirty seventh minute before this score arrived for the Italians. Declan Fitzpatrick was sinbinned for failing to bind in the scrum and his replacement Nigel Brady was penalised for bringing down the play that followed. Burton added the two points and Treviso led 10-0. Humphries had a last minute penalty for Ulster but his effort was very poor, summing up his sides first half performance.
Within twenty minutes of the second half, Treviso had doubled their lead and finished this match as a contest. It was that man Chris Burton again, with a penalty, a try and conversion. The five pointer was as a result of an intercepted pass, which allowed the outhalf run from the halfway line and touch down near the posts. He easily converted his own score and at 20-0,the Italians were heading for only their second ever away win in the competition.
Pedrie Wannenburg touched down under the posts on sixty four minutes, and Humphries converted to make it 20-7. Ulster raised their game after this score and tried hard to narrow the gap. Nevin Spence went close with a mazy run but he was stopped short by the visitors defence. South African Wannenburg scored his second try on seventy minutes and suddenly Ulster were right back in this tie. Humphries was having a poor night with the boot however, and he missed the conversion. It stood at 20-12 to the visitors with ten minutes remaining. In the dying minutes Burton fittingly had the final say, when he kicked a penalty to leave the final score at 23-12 to Treviso.