Match Report: Ulster Rugby 32-0 Zebre

Paul Marshall

Paul Marshall scored Ulster’s bonus point try in the 78th minute

A brace of tries from Nick Williams gave Ulster a 32-0 win at the Kingspan Stadium over Italian side Zebre, with Paul Marshall’s late try giving the home side a very important bonus point as well.

Williams scored two first half tries to go with two Paddy Jackson penalties before second half scores from Marshall and Pete Browne secured all five points for Ulster that gets them back to winning ways in the Guinness PRO12.

Les Kiss can also be happy with his team’s defence as they managed to hold their Italian visitors scoreless despite coming under heavy pressure on several occasions, particularly in the second half.

The hosts made sure they went into an early lead as Jackson sent over two penalties in the first eight minutes, although that was after he had sent his first penalty dead in an attempt to go for the corner.

But having gained those two early kicks to give them a buffer, Jackson turned down a third effort at the sticks to go into the corner and from there number eight Nick Williams was able to barrel over from close range against his old side.

Zebre were showing threatening signs though, and a dangerous break from Johan Meyer nearly took them in for a score soon after but for Craig Gilroy’s last ditch saving tackle.

The home side then thought they had a second try in the 25th minute when Rory Scholes picked a line off the back of a scrum and ran in under the posts only for it to be called back for an obstruction from Luke Marshall.

Marshall’s centre partner Stuart Olding then thought he might have a try a couple of minutes later when he burrowed his way underneath the sticks, however the Italian defence scrambled well to hold him up.

They wouldn’t have long to wait for the second try though as from the resulting scrum Williams was again on hand to bulldoze his way over in dramatic fashion for his second of the evening.

Although it was Les Kiss’ side who were pressing for a try before half-time to solidify their lead, Zebre were the ones who came closest to scoring at the end of the half through their strong set-piece, however Ulster’s defence was up to the task of keeping them out.

Instead it was Ulster who went on the offense immediately after the break and after Luke Marshall made an excellent break to the Zebre 5 metre line it was Williams who thought he had his hat-trick try only for the score to be chalked off due to a Rob Herring knock on.

Despite having not scored yet, Zebre still looked threatening with ball in hand and they were having some decent possession in the Ulster 22 only for the hosts’ defence to repel them time and time again.

And that defence was rewarded when Ulster went up the other end of the field and finally notched their third try of the night – lock Peter Browne the one picking and driving over from close range in the 62nd minute.

Ulster now needed just one more try for the bonus point, but it was Zebre who were doing more of the pressing and but for a try saving tackle from Jacob Stockdale then winger Ulrich Beyers would have been over for their first points of the night.

Instead the stage was set for Paul Marshall to score the crucial bonus point try with the replacement scrum-half on hand to take Stuart Olding’s inside pass to go under the posts after Darren Cave’s initial break.

 

The scorers

For Ulster

Tries: Williams (2), Browne, P Marshall

Cons: Jackson (3)

Pens: Jackson (2)

 

ULSTER RUGBY

(15-9) Craig Gilroy, Rory Scholes, Luke Marshall (Darren Cave 62), Stuart Olding, Jacob Stockdale, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 75); (1-8) Kyle McCall (Callum Black 66), Rob Herring (John Andrew 56), Ricky Lutton (Andrew Warwick 46), Peter Browne (Sean Reidy 64), Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams (Roger Wilson 62).

Sub not used: Sam Windsor.

ZEBRE

(15-9) Junior Muliaina, Ulrich Beyers, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Castello (Giulio Toniolatti 67), Kayle van Zyl, Edoardo Padovani (Ian McKinley 40), Fabio Semenzato (Luke Burgess 52); (1-8) Andrea de Marchi (Guillermo Roan 40), Oliviero Fabiani (Emiliano Coria 73), Dario Chistolini (Pietro Ceccarelli 52), Quintin Geldenhuys (Gideon Koegelenberg 66), Marco Bortolami, Emiliano Caffini, Federico Ruzza (Filippo Cristiano 64), Johan Meyer.

 

Man of the Match: Nick Williams (Ulster)

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)