Ul­ster strug­gle but do enough

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

Ul­ster moved up to sec­ond in Con­fer­ence B af­ter an­other stut­ter­ing per­for­mance proved to be enough to get past their hosts. The north­ern prov­ince came from be­ing 7-0 be­hind to make it two wins from two.

Ul­ster’s li­ne­out is­sues were ex­posed again but they did just about enough to keep Benet­ton, who at­tacked with more pur­pose than Dan McFar­land’s squad, at bay. “It was really im­por­tant [we won],” said McFar­land. “Al­though we put our­selves un­der the pump in the first half we showed some [fight] ev­ery inch men­tal­ity. We fought hard and to go in at half-time 7-3 down was tes­ta­ment to our de­fence. Com­ing out we showed much bet­ter ur­gency at the break­down.”

The Ital­ians were to­tally dom­i­nant in the open­ing half, but could only man­age a soli­tary try by hooker Hame Faiva, scored off a li­ne­out maul in the sec­ond minute, along with Tom­maso Al­lan’s con­ver­sion to show for all their ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion.

Dis­lodge the ball

Tom­maso Ben­venuti should have scored in the 39th minute, and was over the line only for James Hume to dis­lodge the ball.

Af­ter the restart, an early try from Seán Reidy – Burns who had kicked a first-half penalty missed the con­ver­sion – put Ul­ster in front, and they stayed there un­til the end.

Stu­art McCloskey had a 51st-minute try ruled out for not ground­ing the ball af­ter his stretch for the line was looked at by ref­eree Mike Adam­son and the TMO but, with flanker Michele La­maro in the bin for pulling down a sub­se­quent maul, Ul­ster took im­me­di­ate ad­van­tage, with Rob Her­ring driv­ing over from close range.

Burns’ con­ver­sion put Ul­ster eight in front, and al­though the Ital­ians fin­ished strongly – Allen kicked a 62nd-minute penalty – their own in­ac­cu­racy un­did their ef­forts.

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