Ulster impress against Treviso but fail to bank a bonus
Treviso 11 Ulster 22
Ulster flanker Sean Reidy admitted that the province returned home from northern Italy with mixed emotions after defeating Treviso on Saturday night.
The 22-11 victory came courtesy of tries from Luke Marshall, Rob Herring and Ruan Pienaar, the latter pair both dotting down for the second time this season, but Les Kiss's men were unable to add the fourth score that would have delivered a bonus point.
A second consecutive win to start the season, the first time Ulster have managed such a feat since 2012, has the Kingspan outfit third in the table at this early stage, with only Glasgow and Ospreys banking a full complement of points.
Reidy, however, sounded content despite not banking a five pointer at the Stadio Monigo.
"It was pretty tough going out there," admitted the flanker who made his Ireland debut on the summer tour to South Africa.
"We knew Treviso were going to be tough on their home paddock and with their never-give-up attitude. We were trying to chase that bonus point at the end but fell short. At the end of the day we got four points so we are happy enough."
Ulster started the game in the best possible fashion with Luke Marshall's try coming after just four minutes and before Treviso had even enjoyed possession of the ball.
Far from having it their own way, however, a pair of Tommasso Allan penalties for the hosts, with only one Ruan Pienaar effort off the tee in reply, left the score at just 10-6 heading into the half-time interval.
Indeed the slog of the first-half would only ease when former Ulster lock Filo Paulo was handed a yellow card for a late tackle on the 50-minute mark.
With Pete Browne impressing off the bench, after coming on for Kieran Treadwell who had a solid Ulster debut, the Ulster maul began to click with captain Herring the beneficiary for the second time in as many weeks when he scored with 25 minutes remaining.
With Treviso still down to 14, Ulster were in again before the hour mark with scrum-half Pienaar linking well with Jacob Stockdale to dot down underneath the posts.
The departing Springbok's subsequent conversion, however, would be the visitors' last points of the day.
A yellow card for Herring didn't help the bonus point chase and indeed it was Treviso who would provide the final try of the contest when Tomasso Benvenuti gathered a cross-field kick with the last action of the game.
Played in scorching heat, Reidy refused to blame the conditions for Ulster's failure to add the crucial fourth try.
"We are used to it being a bit cooler than that but it's something we had to adapt to," he said.
"It wasn't too bad. We've played in similar conditions before and we had the pre-season camp in Portugal.
"The boys were fit enough but we just made too many mistakes.
"In the second half we really tried to push on but had a few handling errors and a few missed opportunities. Although, it was our first away game and we're two wins from two games so we've got to be happy with that."
Ulster will look to carry the momentum into Friday's contest with Scarlets, the Welsh region having begun their campaign with defeats to Munster and Edinburgh.
Reidy believes he and his team-mates are in a good place ahead of the visit from the Llanelli outfit.
"There's a really good buzz around the squad," he said. "Obviously there are internationals slotting into the team each week after being away on tour with Ireland. There's a good vibe and Kissy is creating something special here and all of the boys are buying into it.
"If you just look at their team (Scarlets), they have got class all around the park.
"It will be good to get home and playing in front of our home crowd. We always love playing at Kingspan (Stadium) and it will be another big challenge for us."
TREVISO: J Hayward; A Esposito, T Benvenuti, L McClean, A Buondonno; T Allan, G Brozini; N Quaglio, O Gega, S Ferrari; M Fuser, F Paulo; F Minto, M Lazzaroni, M Barbini
REPLACEMENTS: R Santamaria (for Gega, 49), A De Marchi (for Ferrari, 57), T Pasquali (for Quaglio, 57), D Budd (for Paulo, 67), E Gori (for Brozzini, 57), I McKinley (for Allan, 72)
ULSTER: L Ludik; R Lyttle, L Marshall, S Olding, J Stockdale; B Herron, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring, R Ah You; K Treadwell, F van der Merwe; C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson
REPLACEMENTS: A Warwick (for McCall,62), R Kane (for Ah You, 49), P Browne (for Treadwell, 43), R Diack (for Wilson, 62), S McCloskey (for Herron, 75), D Cave (for Marshall, 56)
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
Man of the match: Clive Ross