Sluggish Ulster 'get out of jail' with win against Zebre
Zebre 25 Ulster 27: Ulster coach Mark Anscombe admitted his side were lucky as a late penalty try saw them avoid defeat against Zebre.
In a remarkable game, the Pro12 leaders were outscored four tries to two by the league's basement side, who appeared to be on course for their first ever win when Andries van Schalkwyk scored the second of his two tries 10 minutes from time to put them five points up.
However, a controversial decision by referee Neil Paterson to award a penalty try on a reset scrum five metres out allowed Ulster to scrape over the line and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Afterwards, though, Anscombe admitted his side were blessed to have come away with the victory.
"We got out of jail in the end," said the relieved New Zealander. "We played poorly and probably didn't deserve to win. Zebre put together some nice plays and deserved to get more out of the game."
Part of the reason put forward for such a disappointing display were Ulster's travel arrangements, which saw them arrive in Parma at 11.0 the night before the game after a 14-hour journey.
"I think we have to be better as an organisation about how we organise our travel," added Anscombe.
Zebre – D Odiete; L Sarto, M Pratichetti, S Pace, A Castagnoli; D Halangahu, T Tebaldi; M Aguero (S Perugini 52), A Manici, L Redolfini (F Tripodi 63); F Cazzola (E Caffini 41), J Sole; F Ferrarini (N Cattina 56), F Cristiano, A van Schalkwyk.
Ulster – R Andrew; M Allen, J Payne, P Wallace, C Cochrane; N O'Connor, M Heaney; C Black (T Court 56), N Brady (capt) (R Herring 53), J Afoa; R Diack, N McComb; N Williams, M McComish, R Wilson.
Ref – N Paterson