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More 'Great Escape' than 'Italian Job' for lucky Ulster

Treviso missed a last-minute penalty as Pro12 leaders Ulster clung on for a 16-15 win in Italy.

Peter Nelson fends off Marco Filippucci.
Peter Nelson fends off Marco Filippucci.
Image: ©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

Benetton Treviso 15-16 Ulster

THEY SAY IF you can’t be good, be lucky. The latter was Ulster’s saving grace tonight as they plundered the points against Benetton Treviso and extended their 100% start in the RaboDirect Pro12.

It took late penalty try to see Ulster past Zebre last weekend and the league leaders made their fans sweat again with another dramatic finale against Italian opposition. With the game on the line, Treviso fly-half Alberto di Bernardo missed a last-minute penalty and Mark Anscombe’s men clung on for a 16-15 win.

Treviso opened the scoring in the eighth minute, full-back Brendan Williams finishing a nice move and di Bernardo tacking on the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Ulster responded through a penalty from Niall O’Connor before quick thinking from scrum-half Paul Marshall created the opening for the visitors’ only try. From a tap penalty, Marshall fed Tom Court and full-back Peter Nelson crossed to score on only his second start since promotion from the province’s Academy.

Di Bernardo levelled matters at 10-10 with a penalty shortly before the half-hour mark and Treviso were then rewarded when winger Ludovico Nitoglia scored on the stroke of the break to put them 15-10 in front.

Two second-half penalties from O’Connor proved to be the difference in the end, edging Ulster back in front by a point. Di Bernardo still had a chance to have the final say in the game’s dying moments, but skewed a straightforward penalty to let Ulster off the hook.

Scoring sequence: Williams try, di Bernardo con, 7-0 8 mins; O’Connor pen, 7-3 20 mins; Nelson try, O’Connor con, 7-10, 24 mins; di Bernardo pen, 10-10 28 mins; Nitoglia try, 15-10 40 mins; O’Connor pen, 15-13 49 mins; O’Connor pen, 15-16 58 mins.

Treviso: Williams; Toniolatti, Loamanu, Vilk, Nitoglia; di Bernardo, Semenzato; Muccignat, Sbaraglini, Roux; Fuser, van Zyl; Bernabo, Derbyshire, Filippucci. Replacements: Ceccato, Maistri, Fernandez-Rouyet, Giusti, Pratichetti, Esposito, Ambrosini, Morisi.

Ulster: Nelson; Trimble, Payne, Wallace, Allen; O’Connor, Marshall; Court, Herring, Fitzpatrick; Diack, McComb; Williams, McComish, Wilson. Replacements: Brady, Black, Afoa, Simpson, Birch, Heaney, Olding, Cochrane.

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Niall Kelly

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