Mis firing Ulster leave it late with Trimble try in final minutes
It was another stuttering performance from Ulster yet this time they dug out an unlikely looking win when Christian Lealiifano converted replacement Andrew Trimble’s 78th-minute try.
The Wallaby’s two points snatched a scarcely deserved four points on what had been another misfire from Les Kiss’s admittedly injury-hit side, which saw them lose second place in Conference B to Leinster’s better points differential.
The warnings had been there when they failed to take advantage of Andrea Bronzini’s first-half yellow card and Charles Piutau was having a mostly anonymous evening. The gifting of Robert Barbieri’s 56th-minute try was a horror.
The visitors opened the scoring with a Tommaso Allan penalty after four minutes. The Benetton out-half added a second after 12 minutes. But all that changed five minutes later when John Cooney supplied Tommy Bowe for the evening’s opening try. Cooney’s conversion nudged Ulster ahead, and then put them 10-6 up with a 21st minute penalty.
That became 13-6 just after the half hour when Cooney slotted a straightforward effort following winger Alberto Bronzini’s yellow-card for a high hit on Louis Ludik.
Allan was then wide with a 34th minute penalty, but he made amends four minutes later when Nick Timoney was pinged and the half ended with Ulster leading 13-9.
Allan put the Italians one point behind with a 50th minute penalty, before a mix-up from a Paul Marshall box kick saw new cap Schalk van der Merwe pass straight to Robert Barbieri who accepted the score. Allan converted the 56th minute try and Ulster now trailed 19-13.
Yet after turning down a kickable penalty to only see their rolling maul held up, Ulster’s Lealiifano nailed a 63rd minute penalty from long range.
Sub Mary Banks then slotted a 73rd-minute penalty to push the Italians into a 22-16 lead which looked as if it could replicate their win in Belfast back in 2011. Then, with the clock nearly in red, Ulster came again, with Trimble surging over and Lealiifano adding the vital conversion.
Christian Lealiifano: he converted Andrew Trimble’s 78th-minute try