Ulster 31 Aironi 10: Hopes alive for Ulster after thumping win
Ulster kept their European hopes alive with a thumping five-try win over Aironi, a result which puts Brian McLaughlin”s squad top of Pool Four at least until Clermont and Leicester Tigers do battle on Sunday.
Tries from man of the match Stephen Ferris, Adam D”Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Paul Marshall and 19-year-old Paddy Jackson saw Ulster on their way.
The win sets them up well to repeat the dose when they visit Aironi for the second part of the European double-header next Saturday, a game which Ulster again have to bid to take maximum points from.
Battle: Aironi”s Tommaso D”Apice is tackled by Paul Marshall and Pedrie Wannenburg
Ulster showed their intent pretty much from the off, spurning an early penalty chance to go for the corner.
It did not pay off during Ulster”s bright opening – with Ferris making his presence felt – nor indeed the next time they tried it after just 10 minutes.
But just after the first quarter they made the breakthrough when a long pass from Ruan Pienaar saw fellow South African Pedrie Wannenburg pop a pass to Ferris and with some space out on the left the Ireland flanker powered through one tackle and scored in the left corner.
Ian Humphreys nailed a great conversion and Ulster were off, though Tito Tebaldi narrowed the home side”s lead to 7-3 three minutes later with a penalty.
The Aironi out-half was then wide with a long-range attempt after Ferris was penalised at a tackle and then Humphreys was also wide with a much more straightforward attempt just before the half hour.
Tebaldi should have put the Italians a point behind but missed a fairly run-of-the-mill effort after 32 minutes and Ulster had been granted a fairly major let-off.
Jump to it: Aironi”s Marco Bortolami wins a line-out
The home side were also given a considerable boost by the sin-binning of full-back Giulio Toniolatti and with seven men now in the Aironi scrum, Ulster shoved them backwards and won the put-in in the Italians” 22 late in the half.
From there, after a couple of minutes of constant pressure, full-back D”Arcy scored in the same corner as Ferris and with Humphreys this time missing the extras Ulster went in at the break leading 12-3.
They hit the ground running on the re-start with a great wraparound from Pienaar with Rory Best allowed D”Arcy to put Trimble in some space though the Ireland winger had to work hard for his score, which was unconverted by Humphreys to make it 17-3.
With Aironi full-back Toniolatti coming back from the bin just after Trimble”s score, Ulster had put on a useful 10 points in his absence before Stefan Terblanche, on his debut, Marshall and Tom Court were brought on for Trimble, Pienaar and Paddy McCallister respectively.
The impact was swift as from a lineout take from Johann Muller, Simone Favaro strayed offside and Marshall scored from a quick tap for the bonus score Ulster had needed so much. Humphreys slotted the conversion and Ulster led 24-3.
With seemingly mass substitutions breaking up the game”s pattern, there was still more to come from Ulster as sub Jackson ran a nice loop and made the try line. Humphreys kicked his third conversion for Ulster to lead 31-3.
Replacement hooker Tommaso D”Apice”s late score, converted by Naas Oliver, was little consolation for Aironi.