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Ulster v Benetton: Last-minute penalty try rescues draw for misfiring hosts

Billy Burns has come through return to play protocols to start for Ulster.
Billy Burns has come through return to play protocols to start for Ulster.
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Ulster needed a penalty try with the last play of the game to rescue a 17-17 draw with Benetton at Kingspan Stadium on their return to the Guinness PRO14.

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The hosts saw a maul sacked on the line by their Italian opponents who, up until that point, had controlled proceedings, and referee Nigel Owens went under the posts to hand the two sides a share of the spoils.

Ulster had gotten off to a great start when they scored after just 47 seconds, Michael Lowry setting Stuart McCloskey through a gap and he in turn released Louis Ludik over in the corner.

But Benetton struck back in the tenth minute when lock Federico Ruzza bulldozed over in the corner, going full stretch to set the ball on the line to take the lead when Ian McKinley converted.

The rest of the half paled in comparison, with the only score coming from the boot of McKinley when he slotted a penalty on the half-hour mark to give Benetton a five-point half-time lead.

But Ulster struck back four minutes after the restart, Rob Herring piloting a maul over the line and getting the touchdown from the back.

Benetton's wing duo of Monty Ioane and Ratuva Tavuyara were causing havoc, and it was the latter who put the Italians back into the lead when he went over in the corner, McKinley again converting.

With 20 minutes left, Ulster had another set of mauls in the corner that this time refused to go over the line, while Darren Cave knocked on from a great Rob Lyttle break down the wing.

But with mere seconds remaining, Ulster won a penalty as Benetton tried to run the clock down, and when the maul was hauled down as it was about to cross, Owens went under the posts for the tying score.

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