Second-half tries from Marcell Coetzee and Adam McBurney brought Ulster a hard-fought bonus-point win over Benetton Treviso in the PRO14. James Hume, Stewart Moore and Michael Lowry also scored in a 35-24 win in front of 600 supporters at Kingspan Stadium.
Benetton battled back from 14-0 down to level at 21-21 at half-time with tries from Federico Ruzza, Paolo Garbisi and Braam Steyn, the latter two while Ulster were down to 14 men with wing Jacob Stockdale in the sin bin. Young fly-half Garbisi scored 14 of their points in total.
Ulster got off the mark after eight minutes when John Cooney’s grubber was pounced on by Hume near the posts. Cooney converted and Ulster were 7-0 up, which became 14-0 just four minutes later when the home side broke out from their own 22, with Stockdale and Cooney combining to send Moore over on his debut.
The young centre planted the ball under the sticks, allowing Cooney the easiest of conversions. The Italians then came close to a try of their own – they had already had two significant incursions into Ulster’s 22 – only for Stockdale to prevent Garbisi from getting his pass away.
The visitors deservedly got the next score when after a huge period of pressure, lock Ruzza burrowed over and Garbisi converted to cut Ulster’s lead to 14-7 three minutes before the half-hour.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) October 2, 2020
Ulster were stung into action and after some good work from their forwards close to the Benetton line, Cooney put Lowry through a gap to bag the Irish side’s third touchdown. Cooney added a superb touchline conversion to make it 21-7.
But Benetton again came back. Stockdale was yellow-carded for a high hit on a rampaging Toa Halafihi and after the Italians put the ball in the corner, a bulldozing run from Ratuva Tavuyara helped pave the way for Garbisi to run in a score under the posts and convert it.
Then on the stroke of half-time, Tavuyara ran a Cooney kick back and his line-bust helped set up Steyn for Benetton’s third try from close in. Garbisi’s conversion levelled the scores and the half ended at 21-21, which meant Ulster had coughed up 14 points during Stockdale’s absence.
Three minutes after the restart Garbisi landed a penalty to put the Italians in the lead for the first time. It lasted only three minutes, though, as Coetzee got over from close in for the Ulster PRO14 bonus-point try which Cooney again converted.
There was no further score until seven minutes from time when McBurney barrelled over from a lineout maul and fellow replacement Bill Johnston converted.
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