Match Report: Treviso 9 Ulster 19
After storming to a 37 – 15 win in Cardiff last weekend, Ulster were determined to build on their success with a victory over Italian side, Treviso, at the Stadio di Mongio on Friday night. With only the Cardiff Blues having defeated Treviso at home this season, the pressure was on Ulster to seek out a highly anticipated away win. As Ulster dominated the Italian side, tries from Craig Gilroy and Simon Danielli put an end to their worries, and they went on to claim a pleasing 19 – 9 victory over the home side, and move to second place in the league.
Ulster were fired up from the kick off, as Tim Barker jumped on a Treviso kick; however a fumble from Treviso’s Marco Filippucci invited the visiting side to have the first scrum of the game. With Ulster gaining the upper hand, Marshall’s quick pass to Ian Humphreys allowed him to kick down field, where Simon Danielli then bolted down the left wing before being tackled to the ground. Pedrie Wannenburg was penalised 6 minutes into the game for hands in the ruck, and it was the first occasion where Treviso were given a chance to put some points on the board. Tobie Botes was the kicker and his kick was on target, taking the score to Treviso 3 – Ulster 0.
As both teams exchanged possession and intermittent advances in territory, a clearance kick from Humphreys was charged down by Treviso centre Andrea Pratichetti. However, Paul Marshall sprinted back for the ball and managed to clear it away before Treviso could do any damage. An Ulster infringement minutes later, gave Botes another chance to kick at goal, but his strike went wide of the posts.
As the second quarter of the game got underway, Willie Faloon gathered a loose pass from Treviso’s Joe Maddock and offloaded to Tim Barker, 15 metres from the line. Barker threw the ball out wide to Humphreys, setting him up to kick downfield, where youngster Craig Gilroy ran onto the ball and touched down in the right corner. The tight angle of the conversion was not an issue for Humphreys as he successfully slotted over his first attempt of the night, giving his side a narrow lead. Treviso 3 – Ulster 7.
Botes opted for the posts, just under the 30 minute mark, when Ulster were penalised for infringing at the ruck. His long-distance kick sailed directly through the posts, reducing the points’ gap to one, and intensifying the pressure on the visitors. Treviso 6 – Ulster 7.
Undeterred however, Ulster attacked with force from the restart, and four minutes after Botes had landed his penalty, Danielli picked up from Marshall’s clearance kick and charged down the wing, manoureving swiftly past a number of Italian players before diving in to the corner to score a magnificent solo try. Humphreys landed the conversion, bringing the score to Treviso 6 – Ulster 14.
With three minutes left in the first half, Botes had the chance to close in on Ulster’s lead with another penalty. However, his penalty was pushed wide to the left of the posts, taking his kicking record to two from four in the first forty minutes.
As the second half began, Treviso knocked the ball forward, giving Ulster an early advantage to set up camp in the oppositions’ half. Awarded the lineout on 44 minutes, Barker took the pass and gave it out wide to Wannenburg and Marshall before Humphreys’ chipped kick landed in the arms of Gilroy once again, taking the teenagers’ try count to four in just two matches. Humphreys missed the conversion as it bounced back off the upright, but his side had been given more breathing space as Treviso desperately tried to chase the lead. Treviso 6 – Ulster 19.
The 50 minute mark provivded one of the more controversial issues in the match, when Humphreys chipped another kick for D’Arcy to gather. He did so successfully and dived under Treviso’s posts to score what looked certain to be a try. However, as the referee went to the TMO, the fourth official decided no try had been scored, denying Ulster a bonus point.
As Treviso upped their intensity, the men in white had to defend tirelessly against a continous attacking onslaught from the Italians. As Ulster began to tire, a number of errors and penalties were given away; and after Faloon failed to roll away from a tackle, it proved the final straw for the referee who sent the flanker to the sin bin. Botes wasted no time and opted to kick at goal, which he easily slotted between the posts. Treviso 9 – Ulster 19.
65 minutes into the match and Wannenburg was penalised for coming in from the side, alowing Botes to add to his points’ tally. Luckily for Ulster, his kick was wide of the posts, leaving the score unchanged.
Both teams battled for possession and territory as the final ten minutes began to count down, but neither side showed any real threat of scoring. After Ian Whitten knocked on, the final play of the game went to Treviso; but Kristopher Burton also knocked the ball forward in the dying seconds, putting an end to any scoring opportunities they may have had.
As the final whistle blew, Ulster gained their second successive away win, as well as becoming only the second team to defeat Treviso at home this season.
Full-time score: Treviso 9 – Ulster 19
Thoughts on the game?
A second successive win – away from home – has to give the squad a massive boost of confidence as they head into the Dragons’ game next week, when they will also have the added advantage of playing back at Ravenhill.
Despite being overjoyed with the win, there were a number of areas which Ulster will need to work on between now and Friday night, so I’ll start with the negatives.
We came away without a bonus point. Okay, D’Arcy’s try should have been awarded, but the fact that it wasn’t should have spurred the team on. Instead, they appeared to go backwards and lost any fighting spirit that they had – the last 20 minutes seemed to be dominated by Treviso. Whether the players were tiring, or they became slightly disheartened after their disallowed try, I’m not sure but I felt the replacements needed to come off the bench at this point. Yet they didn’t.
Far too many penalties were given away by the team, for coming in from the side and not rolling away. These are the basics and only for Botes’ inconsistency, we could be looking at a very different score today.
D’Arcy’s ‘try’. It looked like a try to me last night and it still looked like a try to me this morning when I watched the match again. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come back to haunt us at the latter end of the season. Faloon’s yellow card could also be deemed as controversial. Yes, the team were warned a number of times and Faloon bore the brunt of the punishment, but I felt it was a harsh call from the referee.
And now for the postitives…
I mentioned it earlier, but a second win away from home, in poor weather conditions, at Treviso’s home ground is a fantastic achievement for Ulster as the Cardiff Blues are currently the only other side to have defeated the Italian’s at home.
Craig Gilroy. In his second match for Ulster, scored two more tries – some may say it’s early days to label him as the next ‘big thing’, but there is no doubting the amount of talent the youngster has, especially when it comes to being clinical and finishing off tries or set pieces. Adding his name to the scoreboard again, will have greatly increased his confidence and the confidence of his teammates.
Paul Marshall showed his pace, talent and ability to read the game well again and made a number of clever kicks as well as a few potentially try-saving tackles and decisions, i.e. Ian Humphreys’ clearance kick. Humphreys’ (despite that poor kick) also had a decent game and his precise kicking downfield set Gilroy up for both his tries. A couple of his conversions were at extremely tight angles but he landed them accurately and confidently.
It was nice to see Faloon starting a game again, and I felt his performance justified him being in the starting 15. He was everywhere on the pitch and in the middle of everything; making tackles, turnover ball, etc. and I hope he starts in the games leading up to Christmas.
Ulster’s defence was very strong, and when down to fourteen men, only managed to concede 3 points. A vast improvement on previous occasions.
After last night’s win, we’re sitting second in the league. It feels good to be able to say that!